Building on the experience of the TRUSTNET concerted action (1997-1999) the COWAM activities were based on a two-step structured dialogue methodology. In the first step participants convened in ten small groups according to their category (B in table below; most groups gathered local involved people and NGOs; one group was composed of regulators; implementers met in two additional groups). The purpose of these single-interest working groups was to assess case studies and to enable the participants to network. In a second step, participants met in mixed groups with representatives of all categories (recommendation groups; E in table below) to elaborate conclusions and proposals.
The case studies provided information about various local experiences from the complementary views of different stakeholders. The meeting of single-interest working groups provided room and time to analyse the case studies and share experience among peers - notably for local communities and NGOs. The recommendation groups built on the analysis carried out throughout the four seminars to bring out pluralistic conclusions through direct discussions between local players, national authorities, implementers and experts. Beside this structured methodology, face to face contacts and discussions off the sessions were a significant aspect of COWAM. The four seminars took place within a time scope of a year and a half, thus enabling participants to build close and lasting relationships.
A summary of the methodology as used in the Verdun seminar is available in English, French, German, Spanish and Sweden at the following link.
The COWAM seminars were a major opportunity to review actual case studies (A on Table above) in different local and national contexts : Sellafield in UK, Tierp and Oskarshamn in Sweden, Görleben in Germany, Bure in France, Wellenberg in Switzerland, the Spanish situation, and Mona, Stola-Dessel and PaLoFF in Belgium.
In order to grasp the complexity of each context, case studies were all presented by a panel of speakers with different positions and playing different roles in the decision-making process: local communities, NGOs, implementers, experts, and public authorities. Each case study pointed out the salient features of decision-making process in siting and/or managing a nuclear waste facility. Moreover, these case studies enabled the COWAM network to learn lessons and identify possible ways to improve future strategies, while acknowledging the specific cultural and institutional aspects of each situation.
A striking characteristic of these case studies is that the issues raised as regards the decision-making process were very close from one case to another, irrespective of the differences in the type of waste and in technical option (see table below).
Last update - February 2005
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