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A Need for ReNuAL


The IAEA's Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications (NA) manages eight laboratories in Seibersdorf, Austria that deliver technical assistance to Member States in the areas of food and agriculture, human health, the environment and the development and use of nuclear scientific instruments. As such, they are essential to the Agency’s support for Member States in using peaceful nuclear technologies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Since the laboratories opened in 1962, the number of IAEA Member States has more than doubled. This led to a significant increase in Member State requests for assistance from the laboratories. Meanwhile, the nature of Member States’ requests for assistance continues to evolve as new challenges emerge. The laboratories, however, had never received a comprehensive renovation or upgrading of equipment, and as a result they at times struggled to meet demand for Member State services. Recognizing this, the IAEA and its Member States launched in 2014 an initiative to modernize the NA laboratories in Seibersdorf to maintain their capacities to respond effectively to these demands in years to come.

Known as the Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories (ReNuAL), the initiative is now well advanced. In June 2019, the Dosimetry Laboratory opened its new Linear Accelerator Facility, strengthening its capacity to support cancer control worldwide. In October 2019, the Insect Pest Control Laboratory moved into a modern new laboratory building, advancing its cutting-edge research into pesticide-free control of invasive insect species that threaten agriculture and human health. The new Yukiya Amano Laboratories building, built to a state of the art flexible modular design, opened for operations in June 2020 and now serves as home to the Animal Production and Health Laboratory, the Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Laboratory, and the Food Safety and Control Laboratory. 


Recognizing the importance of all the laboratories in helping Member States address a range of existing and emerging development challenges, in September 2020 Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi announced his intention to complete the modernization of the Seibersdorf laboratories. The final phase of the modernization initiative, called ReNuAL2, will involve construction of a new building of a flexible modular design, provisionally called the Flexible Modular Laboratory 2 (FML2), to serve as home to three laboratories that had not yet been modernized in ReNuAL’s earlier phase; replacement of ageing greenhouses; and refurbishment of the Dosimetry Laboratory.

Fifty-one Member States and several non-traditional donors have made extrabudgetary contributions, totalling more than €63 million for the laboratory modernization. The IAEA has also initiated innovative private-public partnerships to address some key equipment requirements. Nearly half of Member State contributors are developing countries, indicating the high value they attach to the work of the laboratories and to their modernization. Resource mobilization efforts are still underway to raise the additional funding required to complete the final phase of the initiative.

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