Start August 2013, for a period of 3 years
- Analysis of education, information and communication needs for the general public related to ionising radiation at EU level.
- Identification and exchange of good practices in communication about ionising radiation.
- Identification of a suitable approach for coordination of information and communication with EU citizens in the perspective of better-informed decisions and joint problem solving related to ionising radiation risks and benefits.
- Provision of support based on modern communication tools for the coordination of information and communication strategies for the general public.
- Founding a platform on communication related to ionizing radiation.
Recommendations from the project EAGLE:
Move closer to a citizen-centred communication
Enhancing education, training and communication processes
Education, training and information to the general public are key factors in the governance of ionizing radiation risks. Communication about ionizing radiation with the general public has to be further improved, as highlighted also by the 2011 nuclear accident in Japan. An effort was identified to analyse the state of the art and the future needs in education, training and information, and to coordinate the information and communication about ionizing radiation at the European level. This was the objective sought by the FP7 project EAGLE (Enhancing educAtion, traininG and communication processes for informed behaviours and decision-making reLatEd to ionizing radiation risks), and the project was active from 2013 to 2016.
In addition, EAGLE fostered a move towards the ideal of citizen-centered communication, including a participative component. The project brought together representatives of nuclear actors, users of ionizing radiation, authorities, mass and social media, and informed civil society. The project website contains the scientific reports and records of many rich interactions.
In the final stage of the project, the EAGLE partners wrote a series of recommendations intended to help European actors in the field of ionizing radiation to move closer to a citizen-centred communication process, supporting better informed decision-making about ionizing radiation risks (IRR). These recommendations are based on the results from the EAGLE activities conducted throughout the entire project duration. They integrate EAGLE stakeholders’ feedback and have been agreed by the EAGLE stakeholders, including the EAGLE advisory board. In addition, most of the work was peer-reviewed and published in different scientific journals. The recommendations are mostly addressed to information-source institutions including schools (official communicators), and thereby reflect a standard of quality that other communication actors—media and civil society representatives—can expect. The recommendations can be found on the project website.
In conclusion, there is much positive work to be done in education and training of professional and workers for them to be responsive to the needs of the wider civil society; trainers, EUTERP Associates and EUTERP NCPs would be wise to take note of these recommendations and adopt them as fully as possible.
Selected EAGLE recommendations of specific interest to the EUTERP community
Communication recommendations related to mass media and social media in order to move towards mutual understanding:
R1 Develop 'risk culture’ throughout society to provide a solid basis for communicating about ionizing radiation risks. Risk culture means that people are aware of the existence of risks but also, of preventive and protective actions that are taken by the authorities, or that people themselves can take in some cases.
R3 Engage in ongoing dialogue among the professionals involved in communicating ionizing radiation risks. Officials, specialists of radiological protection and nuclear safety and media professionals who participated in EAGLE want a continuing exchange and learning platform in the interest of building solid relationships, risk culture and public understanding.
R4 Adapt information delivery to the needs of the media. Journalists need rapid, clear responses from source institutions. Scientists and experts working at the source institutions must be trained to meet these needs. Bureaucratic obstacles should be lifted.
R6 Provide radiological protection training for journalists. Specific training – if possible including a simulation – will improve the protection of journalists themselves when reporting about radiological events (e.g. explosion of a radiological dispersal device), improve mutual understanding between journalists and emergency management, understanding of ionizing radiation concepts by journalists, and quality of information transfer in such events.
R10 Participate in networks with active, empowered citizen communicators. A new type of public is emerging: citizens who are active partners in communication as well as recipients. Source institutions can help build competence by entering the new discussion networks and forming partnerships.
R11 Contribute to the foundations of risk knowledge in the schools. The public should be given a better basis to understand ionizing radiation risk (IRR) issues. This means developing risk culture already at the level of schooling. Source institutions should invest in programs targeting children and educators.
R15 Admit scientific uncertainties related to health effects of ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation exposures, especially low doses, are linked to high uncertainties as to health effects, modelling etc. Experts are not speaking with one voice on these issues. It is important to present balanced information showing the areas of doubt and uncertainties.
R23 Create and support online banks of information that journalists and other stakeholders can consult. These can be integrated with seminar events. Online content can be supplied with a "free to use" licence so that journalists but also bloggers, civil society organizations, teachers, children can obtain easy to understand materials (such as video animations, infographics, photos) as well as links to relevant experts and opinion makers. An integrated model for an IRR information resource combines online and face-to-face components.
R28 Foster multiple sources, a plurality of voices considering the issues and speaking to the public. Support citizen science and citizen journalism, and facilitate the activity of civil society organizations responding to citizen needs "on the ground”. Whether part of organizations or acting independently, civil society volunteers are engaged persons, they render a service to their fellow citizens and can act as channels between authorities and the population – in both directions. Sources can be responsive to them, engage and support them with information, material resources, public-interest partnerships and events, including BarCamps, hackathons, and other crowd-sourced endeavours.
Communication recommendations related to information sources in order to improve the education, training and information (ETI) material and activities about the effects of IR:
R1: It is not advisable to prepare the ETI materials and activities on a common template in all EU member states, as each will have different perspectives.
R16: Contribute to citizens’ science projects by organizing or promoting projects about ionizing radiation, sharing information and verifying collected information.
R17: Support science correspondents by offering education and training related to IR topics including emergencies. In addition, some funds for scholars could be established in order to encourage knowledge gathering in a journalistic population.
R18: Establish “Science Media Centres” as a centralized scientific data service for journalists. Sources can foster this type of resource by becoming dues-paying members and by contributing information and expertise. Similar “Science Education Centres” can be established for teachers.
Recommendations related to communication with the members of general public and informed civil society in order to support informed decision-making about IR:
R5 Risk communication in modern society should be seen as an important form of stakeholder engagement, based on dialogue and two-way communication rather than a simple provision of information. Communication has to be more than just an education and/or marketing process. it should be part of a real engagement with the public for a mutual understanding of reasons, benefits and risks, no matter what IR application is approached. Communication about IR should correctly balance the benefits and risks, and its content should be adapted to the target audience in order to be 100% accessible.
R6 Knowledge-based society requires involvement of citizens on a large scale, including local communities, teachers, students, mothers, volunteers, etc.
 N.B. Institutions disseminating information about radiation issues are described as « source institutions”, this is not to indicate that they necessarily use radioactive sources. In addition “sources” are used to indicate any source of information, individual or institutional.