Nuclear energy is a well-established component of electricity supply in many OECD countries and is attracting renewed interest from policy makers and the public in the light of its potential role in long-term strategies aiming at alleviating the risk of global climate change and more generally in sustainable development policies. However, the implementation of nuclear projects often raises social concerns about risks associated with possible releases of radioactivity in routine and accidental situations, radioactive waste disposal and nuclear weapons proliferation.
Understanding risk perception, communicating with civil society on the issues at stake and associating the public with decision making in an effective way are essential for the future of nuclear energy. The NEA Nuclear Development Committee therefore included a desk study on those topics in its 2001-2002 programme of work with the objective of providing policy makers with fundamental findings and recommendations on the way forward to a better understanding of society and nuclear energy.
The study, based upon a comprehensive review and analysis of research work and published literature on topics such as risk perception, risk communication and decision-making theory, provides insights into key issues to be considered by policy makers in order to develop consensual decision making.