Stakeholder engagement describes the process by which an organisation involves people who may be affected by the decisions it makes, or can influence the implementation of its decisions. They may support or oppose the decisions an organization takes, be affected by those decisions in the long-term, be influential in the organization or within the community in which it operates, or they may hold relevant positions in industry or government (Weston et al., 2014).
Stakeholder engagement has been among the main research areas within the social studies in fusion. Empirical work in this area includes a number of projects carried out at the community level (such as the studies around the siting decisions related to ITER in Porto Torres (Italy), Vandellós (Spain), and Cadarache (France) during 2001-2003) and a number of more recent consultations and dialogues with stakeholders and key informants (“informed audiences”) at the general societal level.
In the context ofthe new SES WP (2014-2018)the key challenge is the identification (and implementation) of the most suitable stakeholder engagement options A wide range of methodological options and research tools are available for generating stakeholder engagements processes around fusion, and the team has the expertise to implement them. 2014 focused on describing the different options, with their strong and weak points, as well as with a cost estimation (when/if feasible), to deal with stakeholders engagement around fusion during the 2015-2018 program of work.
On-going research activities in this area include the work carried out to enhance the Eurofusion communication strategy (The SES-COMS group). This engagement option – still at a quite lower level of the engagement ladder– aims to improve the main tools developed by EUROfusion to communicate with the general public: Fusion Expo, EUROfusion Web Page, other informative materials. A pilot multi-method (or mixed-method) strategy would be developed to gather evidence from both, transmitters and receivers of such communication strategies, and use this evidence to enhance its effectiveness. The specific objective for 2015 is to create a SES-COMMs Group to jointly define research activities to be implemented along the PMP in order to enhance the Eurofusion communication strategy
Anotherspecific objective for 2015 is the design and (preliminary) implementation of a dialogue (in the form of a reflection group at the EU level) between social researchers, modellers and representatives from civil society (‘users’ of the storylines) with the objective of exploring the potential role of qualitative scenario story lines for fusion power.