|The Future of Radioactive Waste Governance: Lessons from Europe
European countries learned to involve society in radioactive waste management through trial and error. This is a key conclusion from this study by the Rathenau Instituut that charts how ten European countries engage with the long-term management of radioactive waste, which originates for example, from nuclear energy production. ‘Radioactive waste was initially seen as primarily a technological issue, and hence policymakers sought technological solutions’, says research coordinator Rinie van Est from the Rathenau Instituut. ‘This only works in countries where a large amount of trust in the government, industry, and science is present. In other cases, this trust must be created and suitable ways need to be found to deal with mistrust. This can be done by applying political principles such as the separation of responsibilities and the distribution of power and knowledge.’ The edited volume The Future of Radioactive Waste Governance: Lessons from Europe shows that countries have applied such principles in different ways within their decision-making processes about radioactive waste management. Finland, Spain, and the United Kingdom gave local authorities veto powers concerning site selection. Germany strengthened participation opportunities for citizens and civil society organisations. Sweden installed a research fund where also civil society organisations could apply for research funds.