Towards a Shared Understanding of Radiological Risks

Summary Report of the NEA Stakeholder Involvement Workshop on Risk Communication

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The decisions made about protective actions of people and the environment in situations involving exposure to ionising radiation have tended to be driven by subjective judgements about the health risks that radiation exposure may cause. In order to reach decisions that are effective and sustainable, it is essential for nuclear safety regulators, governments, nuclear facility operators and other nuclear energy decision makers to communicate scientific knowledge and uncertainties, and technical and regulatory information regarding radiological and other risks to all stakeholders. Communicating such information can be complex since people judge and evaluate risks differently depending on the context and on their perceptions of risk.

In this context, the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) organised the “Stakeholder Involvement Workshop on Risk Communication: Towards a Shared Understanding of Radiological Risks” in September 2019. The workshop provided an opportunity for participants to share perspectives and lessons learnt in risk communication, identifying what has been effective and what has been less effective under different prevailing circumstances. Throughout the three-day workshop, trust has appeared as an essential and demonstrated value for effective communication. By understanding how situation-specific factors influence risk communication, a common framework addressing such circumstances can begin to emerge.

This report attempts to capture the collective wisdom generated over the three days of interactions in the hope that the knowledge gained from this workshop will benefit governments and citizens alike.