To be successful, nuclear power and other nuclear projects must engage with all relevant stakeholders, including the public. The IAEA has just released its first guide-level publication to support national efforts to engage with stakeholders throughout the lifecycle of all nuclear facilities, from uranium mining to new reactors and in operation, through non-electrical applications, radioactive waste management and decommissioning.
Stakeholder Engagement in Nuclear Programs (Nuclear Power Series No. NG-G-5.1) provides theoretical and practical advice on developing and implementing stakeholder engagement programs and activities. This is the latest in a series of IAEA initiatives to support countries in this area, including through the Agency’s Milestones Approach for Countries Introducing Nuclear Power, technical meetings, webinars and other publications.
Stakeholders come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some, like regulators, are required by law to participate in projects. Others include individuals or groups who feel affected by an activity. In order to improve confidence in the project and build confidence, organizations are encouraged to develop and implement a stakeholder engagement program, which can enable these individuals and groups to be involved and understand the basis for decisions.
“This publication builds on years of direct work with governments and organizations, identifying best practices and developing methodologies and approaches for effective stakeholder engagement,” said Lisa Berthelot, technical manager of the publication. “There is no recipe for engagement, ultimately, because every context is different, but this guide lays the foundation for what is a crucial part of any nuclear program.”
Explaining nuclear energy, strengthening relationships and building trust with stakeholders is the key to the successful implementation, operation and expansion of all nuclear facilities, including nuclear power plants. The new guide will help communications experts, senior managers and other experts establish and maintain a long-term stakeholder engagement strategy and activities for a nuclear program. These experts work for key organizations involved in the nuclear project or facility, including the government, the owner / operator, and the regulator. Other employees involved in communication or engagement activities will also find the content in this guide useful and relevant to their work.
“The publication is an excellent foundational document that will be used as part of our internal familiarization and on-the-job training programs for new communications managers and for senior and middle managers,” said Jaana Isotalo, Senior Vice President (HR & Communication) at TVO, a Finnish nuclear energy company. “It provides an overview of the key elements of open, successful and transparent stakeholder engagement, as key elements for the sustainable use of nuclear energy.
The publication identifies five key principles for effective engagement: building trust, demonstrating accountability, being open and transparent, engaging in early and frequent consultation, and communicating the benefits and risks of nuclear technology.
After providing an overview of the topic, the new guide covers developing stakeholder engagement strategies and plans, including practical information such as stakeholder mapping. It then discusses the roles and responsibilities of the main nuclear organizations and the differences between the types of approaches and activities selected. Finally, engagement approaches for the different stages of the lifecycle are examined, showing how each stage requires its own strategic approach.
Last month, the IAEA hosted two events on stakeholder engagement and public acceptance. The “19th INPRO Dialogue Forum on Improving Public Acceptance of Nuclear Energy through Institutional Innovations” and the webinar on “Engaging with Policymakers and Policymakers: Informed and Interested Leaders Underscored how effective stakeholder engagement is needed to support nuclear power in realizing its potential to help countries mitigate climate change and achieve energy security and sustainable development.
Stakeholder engagement is of particular interest to newcomer countries looking to introduce a new nuclear power program and is one of the 19 nuclear infrastructure issues that make up the IAEA’s Milestones Approach, along with others. such as nuclear safety and security, financing and radioactive waste. management. There are currently around 30 of these new arrivals, with Bangladesh and Turkey already building their first nuclear power plants.
“The IAEA has provided newcomer countries with insightful capacity building support in stakeholder engagement for years,” said Arda D. Duran of the Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. “This new publication adds to its valuable bibliography as the first” guide-level document on the subject. With this publication, the IAEA will continue to help newcomer countries improve our understanding and ability to collaborate effectively with stakeholders. ”