Keywords: decision-making, nuclear energy, sustainable development, trust, nuclear phaseout, policy making, Belgium
Trust as a central paradigm for advisory science: the case of the Belgian nuclear phase-out
The Belgian parliament has decided to phase out the existing nuclear power plants as part of the government's strategy to achieve sustainable development. According to the authors, this nuclear phaseout can be regarded as belonging to a class of unstructured problems in science for policy-making, i.e. problems where there exists a debate on the scientific facts as well as on the values at stake. When society is confronted with unstructured problems, insights from recent risk research literature point at the overriding importance of trust in arrangements at the cutting edge of science and policy. We investigated the Belgian science–policy interface from the point of view of trust building, also guided by insights from interviews with members of the Belgian Federal Council for Sustainable Development. The results were analysed on three levels of discourse: the cognitive, the reflective and the design or planning discourse. On each level, flaws in the trust-building fabric could be demonstrated.