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Catherine Dalverny

Head of External Communications


Before thinking about carrying out a project, you have to get everyone to accept it.

Who am I?

Three years ago, I was put in charge of the AREVA group’s external communications department at a time when the brand was evolving, especially towards greater digitization.
That corporate experience dovetailed with more than 15 years of management positions in operational communications at industrial sites and in business units representing major strategic challenges, both internal and external.

I work in many fields, such as brand strategy, advertising, partnerships… One of the least known activities in our department, and also one that is closest to operations, is what we call “public acceptance”. It encompasses all our initiatives to raise awareness and provide information to people living near our current and future plant sites. Having worked for a long time at our sites in the Rhône Valley, first at Marcoule and then at Tricastin, this is a subject I know well and in which I am particularly interested.

Public acceptance encompasses all of our initiatives to raise awareness and provide information to people living near our current and future plant sites.

Why is public acceptance important?

Photo

This initiative was well received because it was done with a lot of humility and no arrogance

As a subject, public acceptance is not limited to AREVA. Everywhere in the world, if you’re going to launch a major infrastructure project, whether it’s a nuclear power plant, a dam, an incinerator or an airport, you need to have the public’s support or at the very least their acceptance. It’s important to go talk to them. To listen to their questions and concerns, to think about them and to come back with answers. This is not a simple communications program – it is an essential part of project execution, just as engineering is. And it’s a job that must continue day after day, as long as the site is in operation.

The problem for AREVA is that we can’t let people visit our sites for reasons of security. So we have to go see people. In the Rhône Valley, where there is a concentration of our key operations, we felt that we had to win back the community’s trust after the Tricastin incident in 2008, that we couldn’t bury our heads in the sand. We had to bring the information to them. We put together a plan to go meet them, in the open-air markets for example. For five years, we crisscrossed the region, reminding everyone that we were there to answer their questions, that we lived in the community, too, and that we wanted to be a responsible company. This initiative was well received because it was done with a lot of humility and no arrogance, and because it responded to what the community wanted: it had a strong desire for information.

Photo

We can’t let people visit our sites for reasons of security. So we have to go see people.

How is public acceptance different at AREVA?

Our approach is the same as for anyone leading major industrial or infrastructure projects today. However, we work in a particularly sensitive field and we have a presence all over the world. Our public acceptance expertise is therefore more diverse and often it has been practiced longer.
Generally, requests for information come from government agencies directly, which need it both to understand the issues and to answer citizens’ questions. We work alongside them and we opt for transparency by working as much as possible with public documents. Our experience allows us to anticipate certain questions and to take a broad view of a project’s impacts.

Photo

Public acceptance encompasses all of our initiatives to raise awareness and provide information […]

To take a recent example, we’re working on a uranium mining project in Mongolia in pasture lands. Naturally, the questions concern the economic and environmental impacts of this project. But behind that, the real question from the cattle breeders if whether it will threaten their traditional way of life. Working with local industrial partners, our teams in Mongolia did considerable work just listening to people so that they could offer satisfactory answers, translated into concrete actions on their lands. If we are going to be “neighbors” for a long time, we have to create conditions that will satisfy everyone from the very start .

Photo

Our public acceptance expertise is therefore more diverse and often it has been practiced longer.
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WE ARE

Catherine Dalverny

Head of External Communications


Before thinking about carrying out a project, you have to get everyone to accept it.

Who am I?

Three years ago, I was put in charge of the AREVA group’s external communications department at a time when the brand was evolving, especially towards greater digitization.
That corporate experience dovetailed with more than 15 years of management positions in operational communications at industrial sites and in business units representing major strategic challenges, both internal and external.

I work in many fields, such as brand strategy, advertising, partnerships… One of the least known activities in our department, and also one that is closest to operations, is what we call “public acceptance”. It encompasses all our initiatives to raise awareness and provide information to people living near our current and future plant sites. Having worked for a long time at our sites in the Rhône Valley, first at Marcoule and then at Tricastin, this is a subject I know well and in which I am particularly interested.

Public acceptance encompasses all of our initiatives to raise awareness and provide information to people living near our current and future plant sites.

Why is public acceptance important?

Photo

This initiative was well received because it was done with a lot of humility and no arrogance

As a subject, public acceptance is not limited to AREVA. Everywhere in the world, if you’re going to launch a major infrastructure project, whether it’s a nuclear power plant, a dam, an incinerator or an airport, you need to have the public’s support or at the very least their acceptance. It’s important to go talk to them. To listen to their questions and concerns, to think about them and to come back with answers. This is not a simple communications program – it is an essential part of project execution, just as engineering is. And it’s a job that must continue day after day, as long as the site is in operation.

The problem for AREVA is that we can’t let people visit our sites for reasons of security. So we have to go see people. In the Rhône Valley, where there is a concentration of our key operations, we felt that we had to win back the community’s trust after the Tricastin incident in 2008, that we couldn’t bury our heads in the sand. We had to bring the information to them. We put together a plan to go meet them, in the open-air markets for example. For five years, we crisscrossed the region, reminding everyone that we were there to answer their questions, that we lived in the community, too, and that we wanted to be a responsible company. This initiative was well received because it was done with a lot of humility and no arrogance, and because it responded to what the community wanted: it had a strong desire for information.

Photo

We can’t let people visit our sites for reasons of security. So we have to go see people.

How is public acceptance different at AREVA?

Our approach is the same as for anyone leading major industrial or infrastructure projects today. However, we work in a particularly sensitive field and we have a presence all over the world. Our public acceptance expertise is therefore more diverse and often it has been practiced longer.
Generally, requests for information come from government agencies directly, which need it both to understand the issues and to answer citizens’ questions. We work alongside them and we opt for transparency by working as much as possible with public documents. Our experience allows us to anticipate certain questions and to take a broad view of a project’s impacts.

Photo

Public acceptance encompasses all of our initiatives to raise awareness and provide information […]

To take a recent example, we’re working on a uranium mining project in Mongolia in pasture lands. Naturally, the questions concern the economic and environmental impacts of this project. But behind that, the real question from the cattle breeders if whether it will threaten their traditional way of life. Working with local industrial partners, our teams in Mongolia did considerable work just listening to people so that they could offer satisfactory answers, translated into concrete actions on their lands. If we are going to be “neighbors” for a long time, we have to create conditions that will satisfy everyone from the very start .

Photo

Our public acceptance expertise is therefore more diverse and often it has been practiced longer.
You may be interested in
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