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Rationales and frameworks for stakeholder engagement in radiation protection

Partners involved: JSI - SCK CEN (Lead) - ISGlobal - UMIL - BFS - EIMV



ENGAGE WP1 investigated the rationales  and frameworks for stakeholder engagement in three field of exsposure (emergency preparedness, indoor radon and  medical exposures to ionising radiation). The  focus of analysis was on requirements  and expectations for participation as  highlighted in European and international  discourses, and transposed at national  level in participating countries. Particular  attention was directed to the extent of, and  justification for, stakeholder engagement. 

The research questions were:

  • how are “stakeholders” and engagement  defined in regulations and guidelines?
  • what are the underlying rationales for  engagement?
  • what is included or excluded from these frames?

Data were collected  through document analysis and interviews  with key actors for each field (e.g. radiation  protection policy makers, civil society  organisations).

ENGAGE showed that in all three fields the  relevance of stakeholder engagement, including wider publics, is increasingly recognised by  institutional and non-institutional actors. The  recently adopted revision of the European Basic Safety Standards directive provides opportunities for enhanced participation, particularly for nuclear emergency prepardness and recovery and randon risk management. However, in most regulatory  frameworks (at European or national level), stakeholder engagement - if prescribed - is  little elaborated upon. This causes uncertainty and potential mismatch of expectations on issues such as: when to initiate stakeholder engagement, who to involve  at which stage, what to  expect from it, and which (legal or not) basis can  foster the participatory  process. Among others, it  highlights the need for more  systematic approaches to  stakeholder engagement in  national policies, with proper allocation of responsibilities  and resources.

The main motivation for engagement points often towards its instrumental use, as a tool to secure particular end points (e.g. gaining acceptance for specific radiological protection actions). This can be a valuable motivation in its elf, but misses a wider view on what stakeholder engageme can deliver few instances, normative  Nadja Zeleznik   rationales  (e.g. transparency in emergency preparedness and response, or patients’ right for information in the medical field), and substantive rationales (e.g. improved decision-making) can also be discerned. To make engagement more impactful and sustainable, the ethical values underlying engagement and its contribution to the quality of decision making should be recognised by those initiating engagement processes.

A distinction is often made in national policies between formal engagement of  professional/institutional stakeholders and that of broader publics. In most cases, the former are involved incollaboration and joint decision-making, while the latter are mostly engaged through awareness raising actions and, less frequently, consultations.

Recommendations and guidelines of international organisations or professional associations reflect a broader view on stakeholder engagement, supporting enhanced interactions with wider groups of stakeholders in radiation protection.

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