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Nuclear Energy Stays in Picture of Sustainable Development

15th CSD

Delegates at the CSD-15 meeting held at the UN Headquarters in New York. (Photo: IISD)

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The world´s challenging energy scene was one main focus of the latest and 15th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) meeting at the UN Headquarters in New York, 30 April - 11 May. The IAEA supports the CSD´s work in key areas, including the development of energy indicators that can help countries achieve the goals of sustainable development.

At the session, the IAEA presented its latest report on energy indicators -- a 463-page volume entitled Energy Indicators for Sustainable Development: Country Studies on Brazil, Cuba, Lithuania, Mexico, Russian Federation, Slovakia and Thailand. It features case studies and presents examples of how energy indicators such as energy use per capita, share of renewable energy, share of households without electricity, per-capita greenhouse-gas emissions from energy production and use are developed at the national level, how they can be used to assess national energy systems and how they assist in reviewing the effectiveness of policies undertaken or planned. (See Story Resources for more information.)

One of the CSD sessions was entirely dedicated to UN-Energy, an inter-agency forum of the IAEA and some 20 other organizations collaborating in fields of energy. Mats Karlsson, World Bank and Chair of UN-Energy, outlined the history and mandate of UN-Energy, which he explained was created following the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) at a time when there was no framework for energy within the UN system. The IAEA´s Hans-Holger Rogner, Head of Planning and Economic Studies, discussed a UN-Energy case study assessing policy options for increasing the use of renewable energy for sustainable development in the Sichuan Province, China.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed support for UN-Energy in his remarks to the CSD. "We need to mainstream energy and climate issues more deeply into our programmes and activities," he said. "I am determined to lead the system in reinforcing the coherence of our actions at all levels, and to better utilize to this end the potential of UN-Energy. Stronger inter-agency collaboration is essential to support an effective response by the international community to growing energy interdependence."

Regarding nuclear power´s role for sustainable development, the option remains open, noted Alan McDonald, a senior officer in the IAEA´s Planning and Economic Studies Section. He said that while the CSD failed to agree on a final document at its 15th session, the CSD texts that remain operative "keep the door open" for nuclear power.

See Story Resources for more information and background texts.