Public Information, Consultation and Involvement in Radioactive Waste Management A review of history, issues, and approaches from an NEA perspective Claudio Pescatore, Claire Mays firstname.lastname@example.org PIME, Barcelona, 10 February, 2004
Outline of the presentation Stakeholder activities have been ongoing at the NEA at least since the early 90’s. • Pre-FSC work at the NEA (1990-1999) • First phase 1990-1995 • Second phase 1995-2000 • FSC work (2000 - ongoing) FSC = Forum on Stakeholder Confidence
1990-1995 activities • … responded to a wish to increase the understanding by decision-makers regarding issues of public information and public participation. • Four major workshops: • Public information on Nuclear Energy (1991) • Public Participation in Nuclear Decision-Making (1992) • Informing Parliamentarians on Nuclear Energy (1994) • Informing the Public About RWM (1995)
Informing the Public About RWM (1995) • “Social and ethical issues are at least as important as technical issues” There is a difficult balancing problem to be resolved between local ethical desirables and national ethical imperatives. • “We must include the economic dimension in our communication programmes, including setting out the funding methods that will ensure that costs will be met when they are incurred, which may well be far in the future.” • “Public involvement, at the earliest possible stage, is perhaps the most vital requirement, although it will not necessarily be enough. The public deserves and should have our respect. We cannot expect their trust if we do not trust them. Without them we are lost.”
Collective Opinion of 1995 • The RWM community had been taking up the issue of ethics • The C.O. of 1995 concluded that: • geologic disposal meets the ethical imperatives • “stepwise implementation of plans for geologic disposal leaves open the possibility of adaptation, in the light of scientific progress and social acceptability, over several decades, and does not exclude the possibility that other options could be developed at a later stage”
Through 1995 ... • Public relations and communication folks had raised the non-technical issues to the technical decision makers • ... the RWM community started by taking up the ethical aspects but not the social aspects, although these were understood to be pivotal. • The need to take up social issues re-enforced in 1996 and 1997 by • the demise of the Canadian programme - one of the major findings was that “social safety” had not been demonstrated – • plus difficulties in other national programmes
(1988-2000)10-YEAR STUDY • Most organisations saw it as their duty to reach out • Even where there was no strong constraint on institutions to consult with the public, the tendency was seen to be seeking a dialogue • The means that had been used to build a dialogue had not been successful, which argued “for increased attention to be devoted by the (RWM) community to the issues involved, even if these issues do not strictly fall with traditional areas of science and engineering”
(1988-2000)10-YEAR STUDY • “Where respondents to the NEA questionnaire did cite national requirements for progressing repository programmes, the emphasis was on policy and organisational aspects, and the mechanisms for public acceptance of current technical solutions, rather than development of improved technical solutions”. • Major needed development: • Clear procedures for staged siting studies and repository development, and methods for communicating effectively and for gaining public acceptance in the stepwise development of appropriate national solutions • Stakeholder issues become part of the RWMC strategic areas
Over 5 years ... • Many important conclusions: Societal aspects are pivotal; adaptation; stepwise development; involve public at early stage; communication beyond technical aspects • … shift to active role of RWM institutions, but still a lot had to be learnt • … learning needs to be done “in the field” besides from closed-access workshops • Launching of the FSC initiative (2000 - ongoing)
FORUM ON STAKEHOLDER CONFIDENCE (FSC) • Initiative to improve understanding of the principles of stakeholder interaction and public participation in decision-making related to radioactive waste management • A wider representation of civil society is obtained through workshops held in national contexts, including national and local stakeholders. • Not everybody can be invited all the time as we move from nation to nation, but a relationship can be maintained with all participants and with other organisations/individuals that wish to be kept abreast
MAIN EXPECTATIONS OF PHASE - 1 • To improve ourselves • Create an atmosphere of trust for the discussion of issues. Document these discussions • Create a working environment conducive to tangible results, e,g., to produce advice that strengthens confidence in decision-making processes • Produce, in later stage, a widely agreed upon document on the principles, implications, practices, and issues in involving technical and non-technical stakeholders in long-term waste-management projects
AUGUST 2000 FSC WORKSHOP; INTERNATIONAL SURVEY • Two parallel initiatives to scope the work • Two publications available today
WORKSHOP THEMES AND LEARNING - 1 • Changing environment • Technology is no longer perceived as the bright future • Stronger involvement of local authorities • Projects not trusted and possibly rejected when stakeholders have not been actively involved • Dynamics of dialogue • The technical side is no longer of unique importance : ability to communicate, to negotiate and to adapt is necessary • Need to "engage, interact and co-operate” rather than "decide, announce, defend"
WORKSHOP THEMES AND LEARNING - 2 • Institutions must adapt. • A list of relevant features : • Organisational features : clarity of role position, dedicated sufficient funding, learning capacity, ethical behaviour … • Mission features : clear mandate and goals, a grounded identity… • Behavioural features : openness, willingness to be "stretched", freedom from arrogance, recognition of limits, proactive practices...
WORKSHOP THEMES AND LEARNING - 3 • The stakeholder :anybody with an interest or role to play • Major issues : • the interactions amongst groups and their respective roles • stakeholders change with time • Trust: implies that an individual is willing to give up a certain measure of control to another person. Trust must be given in order to make it possible to receive it. • Oversight and an active role of governments and regulators contribute to keep up trust. • Waste retrievability and programme reversibility alleviate mistrust of technology, and help in decision making..
INTERNATIONAL SURVEY: “INFORM, CONSULT, INVOLVE” (2000-2003 publication) • Factual reports on the situations in which RWM institutions engaged with the public • The methods and efforts invested • The results: successes and failures • A selection of outstanding observations on which the FSC will reflect further… • There is legislation for involving stakeholders • Environmental Impact Assessment: a decision and planning tool becomes a vehicle for public participation • Engaging with the public has profound impacts on the image and role of RWM players [and produces insight on changes needed inside and outside their institutions]
Legislation is in place to support engagement with stakeholders in RWM • Requirements on national and international level reflect growing awareness of the need to involve public in environmental and long-term decision making • These frameworks furnish legitimacy but cannot furnish methods and guidance for every situation. To some extent these are still experimental tools (e.g., the EIA in Europe...) • Forms of participatory democracy are something recent in our societies. • Engaging with stakeholders implies not only new procedures but also: • More clarity in roles across the board • Change in mentality • New skills and resources • Partnership arrangements
“Partnership” Arrangements • RWM institutions need to encounter their public • Needed: multi-partner forums for examining and deciding on complex topics with technical and societal, national and local dimensions • Such arrangements are being created or realised with or without • a legislative frame • financial provisions and assistance to communities • A challenge to traditional, representative democracy and expert delegation • Stretches traditional, typical public relations or community relations approaches
EIA: MECHANISM AND OPPORTUNITY FOR PUBLIC PARTICIPATION • Difficult to mobilise persons when RWM issues remain general; only when issues become local (siting) does public participation kick in– in a positive or negative manner • People want to talk of more than just technical aspects. EIA is originally a “technical” assessment: • It may not be a good vehicle when pressed into service to evaluate social or ethical aspects. • Current developments in the areas of Strategic EIA, Social Impact Assessments, and Ethical Assessments. • Need to explain, distinguish the role and function of EIA. • Traditional “written comment” format does not always allow the public to become engaged. New formats, new bodies, invented to fill in the gaps.
EVOLVING ROLE AND IMAGE of REGULATOR • Some players, like the regulator, are emerging in a new light and pressed into new role • Higher visibility – by societal demand and by choice • “Peoples’ Expert” , Guarantor of Safety • Educational and confidence-building role • Need for neutrality and transparency
ON-SITE LEARNING Finland Workshop (2001) • Strong example and inspiration for use of Environmental Impact Assessment tool and for Stepwise Approach to Decision Making • Role of the regulator as “defender” of people’s health • The municipality right of veto is a confidence factor • Confirmation that important commonalities exist across diverse cultural settings.
ON-SITE LEARNING Canada Workshop (2002) • The important role of local communities and municipalities; the special place of nuclear municipalities • The importance of at least an informal right of veto • A different optimum may be reached when local aspirations are taken into account when considering technical solutions • The importance to have a legal framework for negotiation and reaching decisions • The importance to have a (government) body that is active in driving the process of dialogue towards taking a decision • The large, positive experience of performing EIAs and SIAs in Canada • Innovation of ethical assessment
ON-SITE LEARNINGBelgium Workshop (2003) • A working model for multi-actor, long-lasting study group partnerships – set up informally • High determination and mobilisation of local persons who deliberate on aspects of facility safety, method, design, and integration into an economic and social context • Implementer is a peer member of the study groups • Impact on implementer’s own organisation and mentality • Will to follow up the facility project through subsequent phases • Need for regulator to take its place in national constellation
MAKING LEARNING SYSTEMATIC • The FSC notices that all issues and situations encountered raise questions about POLICY – PROCESS – STAKEHOLDER INVOLVEMENT – ORGANISATIONAL ADAPTATION • Reflection on how to integrate these levels in • A context of mutual learning within the FSC • An orderly forward progression towards safe and secure management of wastes in the societal context • Stepwise Decision Making project
Why Stepwise Decision Making ? • A decision is made of many sub-decisions • In long-term radioactive waste management: • there will many decisions, • progress will be made in steps, and • there will be many opportunities for stakeholders to influence the path of development. • “What are the steps?” seems to be the wrong question • “How do we approach decision making ? On what basis?” seem better-posed questions
Three general principles ... • Decision-making should be performed through iterative processes, providing the flexibility to adapt to contextual changes, e.g., by implementing stepwise approach that assures sufficient time for developing a competent and fair discourse • Social learning should be facilitated, e.g., by promoting interaction between the various stakeholders and the experts • Public involvement in decision-making processes should be facilitated, e.g., promote constructive and high-quality communication between individuals with different knowledge, beliefs, interests, values, and worldviews
… the aim being • To increase familiarity and control by the stakeholders • Trust and confidence in the institutional actors • Increased legitimacy and supportability of the decision
Ideally, for RWM, these principles ought to be applied in 4 governance areas: the national systems of • Energy production • responsible for decisions on nuclear power/industry • Radioactive waste management • responsible for the strategic directions on how waste is to be managed • Waste facility siting • responsible for identifying a site, as well as benefits/compensation packages and oversight schemes for communities • Implementation of decisions • responsible for keeping to the process that was entered into, including decisions on facility construction, operation, monitoring, and potential closure
Action Goals • Energy productionOpenly debating of national policy on energy production, the future of nuclear energy, and the impact of RWM; • Radioactive waste management. Change to status quo is needed; define scope and end-points; define technically and societally acceptable WM approach; • Waste facility siting.Identifying one or more technically suitable sites where acceptability is possible; tailor-made community benefit packages and community oversight schemes; • Implementation of decisions. Keep to the process that was entered into, including decisions on facility construction, operation, monitoring, and potential closure.
Conclusions… • A more complex interaction is now taking place at national, regional, and especially at local levels • A more realistic understanding of decision making, in steps, involving a range of actors is emerging • Positive outputs of the FSC : • a forum for mutual exchanges, mutual respect and learning • a unique standing forum where technicians, civil servants, social scientists and other stakeholders can interact • promote cultural changes in, and stimulate new approaches by, participating organisations
Publications for download or purchase • August 2000 Workshop • Inform, Consult, Involve Stakeholders (E & F) • Evolving Role and Image of Regulator (E & F) • Proceedings: Finland, Canada Workshops • Stepwise Decision Making (conference presentations) • Exec Summary: Belgium Workshop (soon) • Available here at PIME: List of FSC activities and publications
Contact • Many documents for download : http://www.nea.fr/html/rwm/fsc.html • Join our list for updates: email@example.com • Cynthia Picot of NEA Publications and Public Affairs is here