The NEA Working Group on Public Communication of Nuclear Regulatory Organisations (WGPC) held its bi-annual meeting on 4-6 May 2021 and celebrated its 20th anniversary.
The WGPC was established in 2001 under the umbrella of the NEA Committee on Nuclear Regulatory Activities (CNRA) in response to member countries’ needs regarding the policies of nuclear regulatory organisations in the area of public communication. During the past two decades, the group has provided a forum for nuclear regulatory organisation communicators and outreach officers to exchange information, experience and practices. It has also promoted efficient collaboration between member-countries in this field.
The first day of the May meeting was dedicated to a Workshop on Service Design Approach in Developing Communications organized by Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK). During this online workshop, delegates representing STUK shared their experiences in using service design approach in developing their communication strategy and presented case studies on how to successfully implement this tool. The key take-away for the participants was practical understanding of service design, particularly in terms of stakeholder mapping and analysis.
Another key highlight of the meeting was the thematic session on the lessons learnt from the Fukushima Daiichi Accident with regards to public communication, moderated by NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV. Over the last decade, the Fukushima Daiichi experience has spurred considerable rethinking in Japan and in countries around the world on both crisis communication and risk communication practices. It is now well understood that stakeholder engagement is essential for both policy decision making and emergency management planning decisions.
Further efforts are also needed to develop better and more effective means for communicating and discussing risk with the general public, especially prior to any radiological or nuclear emergency. In this context, the group is currently working on establishing a Nuclear Risk Communication Training Course for communication and outreach officers, technical staff and inspectors working in regulatory bodies.
During the meeting, the group also discussed the status of its ongoing work on the characteristics of a trusted regulator, in particular the results of the public survey conducted by the NEA in February and March 2021.
“Earlier this year, we invited the NEA community and stakeholders worldwide to share their opinions with us by completing an anonymous survey on trust between nuclear regulators and their stakeholders,” noted Greg Lamarre, Head of the NEA Division of Human Aspects of Nuclear Safety. “We have received nearly 800 responses from 35 countries. So, on behalf of our entire team, I would like to thank all the contributors for taking their much valued time to complete our survey.”
Public trust in nuclear regulatory authorities is essential for effective nuclear regulation and is equally important as technical competence, independence and adequate resources. Accordingly, the results of the survey will be used to develop a regulatory guidance report that will outline the organisational characteristics that can help build, maintain and enhance trust between nuclear regulators and their stakeholders. The report will complement the previous NEA reports on “The Characteristics of an Effective Nuclear Regulator” (2014), and “The Safety Culture of an Effective Nuclear Regulatory Body” (2016).