PIME 2007 -
Defining tomorrow's vision of nuclear energy

11 - 15 February 2007, Milano, Italy

Nuclear community intensifies communications efforts to reach broader public and meet the information needs of the global nuclear renaissance.

From 11-15 February 2007, over 170 professional communicators from 27 countries congregated in the Palazzo delle Stelline Congress Centre in Milan, Italy, to take part in ENS PIME 2007. Now in its fifth year, the annual PIME (Public Information Materials Exchange) conference is organised by the European Nuclear Society (ENS) in co-operation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD (NEA/OECD) and FORATOM. PIME is an international conference that provides communicators in the global nuclear science community with a unique opportunity to discuss the key issues of the day, to focus on new communications solutions and tools and to network with their fellow professionals. Among those who took part were representatives of the major European power utilities, research centres, nuclear science associations and national nuclear associations.

At a time when concerns about security of supply, combating climate change and competitive energy prices have thrust nuclear energy to the top of the global energy agenda and stimulated the nuclear revival, the premium on effective communications is all the greater. So too are the challenges and rewards for nuclear communicators, who must communicate the social, economic and environmental advantages of nuclear energy to an increasingly information-sensitive public. This was one of the key messages to emerge from the conference.

The conference agenda consisted of a series of plenary sessions, panel discussions and parallel workshops focusing on specific communications issues.

Among the main subjects discussed during the plenary and panel sessions were the international ITER fusion project, the drivers and implications of nuclear new build in the UK, countries planning to go nuclear for the first time and the situation in the host country, Italy. The results-oriented workshops gave PIME 2007 delegates the opportunity to concentrate, in a more hands-on way, on issues like applying best practices, enhancing stakeholder consultation and communicating via the Young Generation Nuclear network. The objective was for delegates to learn about new communications skills and approaches.

Among the guest speakers at PIME 2007 were senior representatives of the European Commission, industry specialists, journalists, communications consultants and experts in a range of fields, including public acceptance and crisis communications.

Each year during PIME the nuclear community recognises the contribution that high impact communications can make to reinforcing key messages about nuclear energy to the public by presenting the PIME Award for Communications Excellence. This year the prize went to British Energy, for its innovative and audacious Demarco Skateraw campaign that humanised the image of nuclear energy by establishing a novel link between art and science.

On the final day of the conference, delegates visited the research facilities of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, ISPRA, which are just outside Milan.

ENS President, Frank Deconinck, who chaired the conference, emphasised how information is a prerequisite for a democratic society and how it is the role of scientists and communicators to empower the public by sharing knowledge with them: “People are the ultimate power, but power is only of common good if it is the hands of informed people. We are confronted every day with misconceptions and factual errors about nuclear energy. How can we expect the public to make an informed, objective judgement if scientists cannot effectively communicate the facts? PIME aims to enable nuclear communicators to improve their skills and develop new tools so that the public can make informed choices based on scientific fact, not fiction.”

PIME 2007 was organised in cooperation with

OECD Nuclear Energy Agency