Building a sustainable future will also require affordable energy that does not harm the environment. Careful planning is required, if energy choices are to be sustainable in the future.

The IAEA is the sole UN agency involved in overall energy planning and has a comprehensive programme to assist developing countries and economies in transition plan for their future energy needs.

Under the programme, all energy options are treated equally. Planning models that consider all pillars of sustainable development — economic, environmental, and social — are tailored to national needs and training and data support are provided.

The Agency also leads a multi-agency effort on indicators for sustainable energy development called for in Agenda 21 and provides support in a number of ways for countries that include nuclear power as part of their sustainable development strategies, recognizing that it broadens the resource base by putting uranium to productive use, reduces harmful air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, expands electricity supplies, and increases the national stock of technological and human capital.

Providing affordable energy services in continuous sustainable manner may also require advanced and innovative nuclear technologies.

Last year, the IAEA initiated a major international project to foster joint innovation in reactors and fuel cycles based on nuclear fission. The Agency also facilitates research on fusion. Using the same process that powers the sun and the stars, fusion could one day provide an essentially inexhaustible source of energy. The next and largest project will be an international collaboration to build an experimental reactor.

The road to a sustainable future must be built one step at a time. While science and technology offer many opportunities for progress, success will ultimately depend on people.

Over the past four decades, the IAEA and its Member States have built a sound foundation of institutions and personnel in many developing countries that now provide an important regional resource — in terms of capabilities and expertise.

As a result, developing countries are today better positioned to use nuclear science and technology to solve pressing developmental challenges: good health; sufficient food and water; and a safe environment.

Capacity Building

At the heart of the IAEA’s activities is building local capacity through technology transfer. Working with its Member States, the Agency’s role is to make sure that this technology can not only be used safely and effectively, but can also be locally sustained. This means providing training to develop local expertise and ensuring that any needed infrastructure is in place before technology is transferred. The IAEA provides a variety of services to help to ensure that users, patients, and the public are not overexposed to radiation. The Agency also develops safety standards for activities that use or produce radiation and verifies that nuclear technology transferred is solely used for peaceful purposes.

Photo Credits:
K. Skornik/IAEA; PhotoDisc;
P. Pavlicek/IAEA; PhotoDisc.

To learn more about how nuclear science and technology are contributing to sustainable development, visit the IAEA’s WorldAtom website

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