After a few lovely days in Oxford two weeks ago, I made a brief stop in London to check in with some of the excellent organizations working on communications, education and outreach in the nuclear sector in the UK. I stopped in at the World Nuclear Association (WNA) Offices- which is also the headquarters of the WNA subsidiaries World Nuclear News (WNN), the World Nuclear University (WNU), as well as the UK’s Nuclear Industry Association (NIA). I was greeted by Jeremy Gordon, the Head of Information Management of the WNA and Editor of WNN.
“The World Nuclear Association is the international organization that promotes nuclear energy and supports the many companies that comprise the global nuclear industry.” It achieves this mission through offering up to date public information on the global nuclear industry, conferences, training and represents the nuclear sector “in key world forums that shape the nuclear industry’s regulatory and policy environment.”
While WNA acts on the global stage, NIA is “the trade association and representative voice of the UK’s civil nuclear industry. [They] represent over 60,000 UK nuclear workers across more than 260 member companies.”
In addition to the wonderful art collection in the office (check out the gallery below), I was also pleased to see women in leadership positions at each of the organizations and a considerable number of young people working at the office (relative to nuclear industry averages). In my opinion, increasing diversity of the workforce is a critical factor in helping the nuclear industry improve it’s reputation and connect with wider audiences. Additionally these organizations each have a strong social media presence and well designed, easy to navigate websites- including a gorgeous revamp of the World Nuclear Association site in recent weeks. Not to pick on my American compatriots, but let’s just say that one of our most prominent nuclear organizations still uses a free blogger template from the mid-2000’s…not exactly cutting edge in the internet age!
Luckily for me, the timing of my visit coincided with the approval of two new nuclear units at Hinkley Point as a part of a carefully outlined plan to create 40,000 new jobs and move towards decarbonation of electricity sources in the UK. There have been a number of note worthy advances in the past months leading up to the UK government’s formal declaration including an agreement between renewable, carbon-capture & storage and nuclear proponents to cooperate in prioritizing low-carbon energy sources in the UK.
After touring the WNA offices I headed to dinner with Jeremy and Kirsty Alexander, the Director of Communications for NIA. I was impressed to learn that Kirsty, as well as noted writer and environmentalist Mark Lynas, who I’d met earlier in the week, were both critical in organizing the above mentioned agreement between the three groups- who do not always see eye to eye on energy issues. Something I’ve been advocating for lately is interest based bargaining– essentially problem solving that identities shared interest of all parties involved and uses them as a platform for cooperation and collaboration.
Putting the shared goal of reducing carbon emissions first allowed these three groups, which have been traditionally at odds with one another, to make big strides towards their common interest. This is the kind of innovative problem solving necessary to move nuclear and other low carbon technologies forward- as we are now seeing in the UK.
A big thanks to Jeremy and Kirsty for talking with me about your organizations’ respective educational and outreach efforts in the UK and worldwide. Keep up the great work!