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Technical cooperation and the Millennium Development Goals: how nuclear science and technology is being applied in support of international development objectives


Monday 20 September: Today marks the opening of the United Nations Summit in New York to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs represent the most significant political commitment to development by the global community as a whole. The adoption of the MDGs as the central part of the global development agenda has ushered in a period of extraordinary collective action and coordination among UN organizations, and the IAEA is proud of the part it plays in this endeavour.

Technological solutions are vital for the full and successful achievement of the MDG targets. Human centred goals may appear upstream and distant to a technological organization, but experience in working towards the strategic goal of the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme – sustainable socioeconomic development – has demonstrated that through partnerships with lead organizations in a particular sector, such as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization or the World Health Organization, a science based organization can indeed make a useful contribution to internationally recognized development priorities.
The IAEA also works closely with research organizations and with civil society at national and international levels. Such partnerships are essential if IAEA technical cooperation projects are to really have an impact on national socioeconomic development. Member States develop their IAEA technical cooperation programme at both the national and regional level by taking into careful account national development priorities and national commitments to international development objectives such as those encapsulated in the MDGs. Thus, clear linkage with national and international development priorities is established right at the start of each IAEA technical cooperation project.

In its early years, the IAEA helped to establish a community of nuclear scientists and a network of national atomic energy commissions or organizations that have served as the basic infrastructure for, and counterparts of, the IAEA at the national level. The shift in focus of the TC programme from infrastructure build-up to the achievement of socioeconomic impact has underlined the critical importance of looking beyond immediate counterpart institutions to establish linkages with the line ministry or specialised sectoral Ministry at the national level that is responsible for the development or sectoral issue that needs to be addressed. In many cases, these responsible Ministries hold ultimate responsibility for addressing and solving a national development problem, and can employ any available resources and technologies, including, where appropriate, nuclear technologies. For this reason, it is essential that the IAEA reach out to other international partners, so that Member States can leverage the support offered by the IAEA within the wider development sector.

Recent studies, coupled with a closer alignment between Country Programme Frameworks, UN Development Assistance Frameworks and national development plans, have highlighted several areas where Agency competencies offer very specific support to certain MDGs. For example, the many TC projects on mutation breeding, application of the sterile insect technique and improved livestock breeding offer targeted support to poverty reduction under MDG 1. Innovative contributions from nuclear science and technology, in particular radiation medicine and isotope techniques, are successfully applied in supporting the attainment of MDG 4, reducing child mortality (through breastfeeding support programmes), MDG 5, the improvement of maternal health, MDG 6, combating the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, MDG 7, ensuring environmental sustainability and MDG 8, developing global partnerships for development to address the special needs of the least developed countries, landlocked countries and small island developing states, and make available the benefits of new technologies.

Click here for links to examples of technical cooperation projects that support the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in poverty eradication, child and maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS and environmental sustainability.

Responsible/Contact: Department of Technical Cooperation | Last update: 13 Feb, 2013

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