A Cooperative Research on the governance of radioactive waste management

Cowam in practice

Thursday 7 June 2007, by Dominique

Important changes were expected in several Member States in the coming five years (2006-2010). The period was characterized by review of national policy, and discussions about the framing of new decision-making processes at local and national levels. New institutions and/or new policies may be set up in the coming months or years, while at European level the policy on nuclear matters is being reframed. The period is appropriate to follow the implementation of governance principles in radioactive waste management, get feedback and make recommendations for further improvement.

The objectives of COWAM IN PRACTICE (CIP) are :

- to contribute to enabling European societies to make actual progress in the governance of radioactive waste management (RWM) while contributing to increasing societal awareness of and accountability for radioactive waste management (RWM) in Europe in order to reach practicable, accountable and sustainable decisions

- to follow up and analyse five innovative national processes on RWM on the basis of COWAM 2 results with a view to support stakeholders, particularly local communities, directly in their engagement with their particular RWM programme(s) - and to capture the learning from that experience

- to develop best practices and guidance for the application (implementation and improvement) of new inclusive governance of RWM approaches in the EU25, including benchmarking on practical and sustainable decision making processes recognised as fair and equitable by the stakeholders on the short, medium and long term

These objectives will be achieved through the live and direct assessment by concerned stakeholders of ongoing processes in 5 Member States (France, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, UK) through two main interrelated activities:
- For each country a National Stakeholder Group (NSG) will review, from a local perspective, the inclusive governance approaches developed in their country, and elaborate a Prospective Case Study.
- Based on the national reviews, a team of experts will draw lessons and bring out EU-level Guidelines for inclusive governance of RWM

Key orientations of COWAM in Practice include: empowering local communities; facilitating dialogue among local and national stakeholders unpressured by their ordinary context; deepening national insight while drawing on international experience. The project builds on previous Euratom-supported activities COWAM 1 (which identified major RWM governance themes for elaboration) and COWAM 2 (which created sustained working encounters among national stakeholders and international counterparts). COWAM in Practice, like the previous programmes, is both a knowledge-generating research activity, and a governance activity in itself.

The viability and robustness of the project are guaranteed by the contractual participation of skilled institutions and individuals who provide intellectual, mediation, facilitation and managerial skills as well as participation of key stakeholders (local communities, NGOs, regulators, operators, waste producers, experts) in the National Stakeholder Groups on a non-contractual basis. The originality of this project lies in a cooperative research approach, successfully experimented in the COWAM 2 project: with a direct participation of stakeholders in the research groups and in the Steering Committee, the architecture of the project is purposely designed for the stakeholders to effectively influence and feed the project throughout its progress.

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