This paper analyses the potential for the involvement of different types of stakeholders in the Implementing Geological Disposal Technology Platform (IGD-TP). This analysis was conducted as part of the InSOTEC project, a three-year (2011–2014) collaborative research project funded under the 7th Euratom Framework Programme (Grant Agreement nr. 269906).
In our analysis, we consider the extent to which the IGD-TP’s practice as regards to stakeholder involvement matches its discourse, and what potential for improvement exists given its structural organisation as a European Technology Platform (ETPs). Technology Platforms (TPs) can be understood as knowledge networks, deliberately set up to influence (research) policy in a specific domain. We therefore use knowledge networks as a conceptual approach and look at the IGD-TP as a complex network which includes actors, knowledge and practices across different countries, focusing on a very specific topic (i.e. implementing geological disposal). We compare the way different stakeholders are involved in the IGD-TP to the practice of other ETPs, and explore how the IGD-TP is viewed by its members and by outsiders to the platform.
Applying Callon’s framework of knowledge co-production (1999) we come to define different degrees of interaction between science, society and policy in view of defining research and development (R&D) priorities . Subsequently we describe how these interactions could be conceptualised and interpreted for the IGD-TP. The current approach of the IGD-TP can be mainly understood as classical model involving mainly expert stakeholders and scientists. Where there seems to be a good representation among IGD-TP members of industry, research institutes, and some members of the academic community this is not the case for other types of stakeholders, such as public authorities or civil society. At this stage, the overall approach of the IGD-TP would seem to restrict the scope of stakeholder involvement, as it narrows participation down to uniquely technology experts, hindering socio-technical manifestations. Our analysis nevertheless shows that there is room for engaging with a broader range of stakeholders in the field of radioactive waste management, if this is the intention of the IGD-TP. However, this would require a commitment to developing a common knowledge base including other stakeholders through a process of mutual adjustment and negotiation.