IAEA Has Key Role in Charting Knowledge Management Roadmap
Member States Recommend Areas of Possible Cooperation
Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy Yuri Sokolov closes the meeting at IAEA headquarters this week. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)
More and more countries have stated their interest in adopting or growing their nuclear power capabilities. But as expansion plans are being drawn, many are experiencing a shared concern: Who will build the next round of plants while maintaining the safety of existing installations? Preserving a country´s nuclear knowledge base and fortifying the brainpower that could help bring about nuclear power´s resurgence was the focus of a multinational meeting this week at the IAEA.
Dubbed Meeting of Senior Officials on Nuclear Knowledge Management: Cooperation for Development, the three-day talks addressed the growing need for initiatives that may spur cooperation between Member States and the IAEA to capture, maintain, and share human knowledge in the application of nuclear sciences.
"To meet the challenges of the future, and particularly the nuclear power renaissance, nuclear knowledge management must become an integral part of today´s nuclear activities at all levels," said Deputy Director General for Technical Cooperation, Anna Marie Cetto, in her opening remarks. "It is an essential component in all large nuclear projects; a key part of the corporate and institutional management of all organizations involved in research, development and utilization of nuclear energy and techniques; and the bedrock of national nuclear development plans and policies."
During the meeting, senior officials from nearly 40 IAEA Member States highlighted areas of success and challenge in their respective nuclear knowledge management (NKM) programmes. They also pinpointed areas where the IAEA can help advance additional technical cooperative efforts to preserve and transfer nuclear knowledge.
Following are among key recommendations for IAEA activities in this field that were raised as a result of the meeting:
- The IAEA needs to play a leading role in harmonizing curricula in nuclear education and training programmes, as part of its activities in raising awareness of the importance of building and maintaining nuclear knowledge and competence;
- The IAEA should provide a forum for Member States to exchange experiences and best practices vis-à-vis NKM, and also foster robust national and regional education networks;
- The Agency should place a priority on helping Member States assess their own NKM performance; and
- The IAEA should continue and expand its collaborative, Internet-based learning platforms to meet the needs of Member States.
In addition to these recommendations, participants also proposed possible IAEA roles in maintaining Member State nuclear knowledge competency. In an open discussion, officials remarked that the IAEA could lead education and training programmes, assist developing countries to establish nuclear engineering programmes, and set regulatory benchmarks for university training programmes in the nuclear sciences. The IAEA was receptive to all input from meeting participants and committed to investigate these recommendations further.
Among the meeting´s participants were senior officials representing IAEA Member States from Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, along with representatives from Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The meeting, which took place from 14-16 May, was made possible through collaboration by the IAEA´s Departments of Technical Cooperation and Nuclear Energy.
The IAEA has been concerned with aiding its Member States in the retention and distribution of information and institutional knowledge in the nuclear sciences. For the past 10 years, the IAEA´s Nuclear Knowledge Management programme has worked to manage, preserve and support nuclear education and training programmes throughout its Member States. The NKM programme also hosts conferences, seminars and workshops that encourage and advise Member States on how to invest in education, learning and information management.