Risk communication as a Complex Interactive Process, a presentation

In January 2016, Stijn Pieters, the executive secretary of the CIP Institute, gave a keynote on Complex Interactive Processes and communicating nuclear risks at Borsele in the Netherlands.

The mayor of Borsele, Mr. J.E.J. Gelok, who presides the interdisciplinary committee about nuclear risk communications, invited Stijn for this first committee brainstorm. Having a nuclear power plant on the territory of Borsele the mayor is very familiar with nuclear risks and civilians’ perception towards these risks.

One of the main objectives of this interdisciplinary committee is to align and prepare a joint communication strategy towards the citizens of South Netherlands. This daunting task originates in the recent reopening of a nuclear power hub in Doel, just across the Belgian border, which notably increased the stress level among a large part of the population in the southern part of the Netherlands.

The 40 years old Belgian nuclear power plant was supposed to be decommissioned by the Belgian government in 2015. However, last year the Belgian government granted the owner of the nuclear power plant an extended operation license for another 10 years. This came as a surprise as the media had been reporting on several small and medium irregularities at the site over the last years.

Stijn Pieters’ presentation focused on safety culture as envisioned by the CIP framework [1] and how Belgian, German and Dutch regulators could highly benefit from this approach in the audits they perform in nuclear power plants.

[1] Acknowledging, identifying and enhancing the complex interactive processes and the role they play in our organizational and societal purposes is a function of how we give effective support (formal dimension) to the spontaneous conversations (informal dimension)

— Paper on Complex Interactive Processes. This publication is available for CIP Institute members.

These insights offered the audience enough food for thought to engage in a strategic debate for the first time on how to balance the political communication and the risk communication.

PresentationMarikoFor the CIP Institute this lecture was an opportunity to inform the participants on the 2016 CIP Conference in Antwerp and one of the keynote speakers: Prof. Mariko Nishizawa who will talk about her research on risk perception and communication after the 2011 Fukushima event.