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At UN Forum, IAEA Highlights its Energy Planning Tools and Nuclear Science for Development

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Participants at an IAEA training session on the contribution of nuclear energy to meet SDG7, held on side-lines of the United Nations event on sustainable development in New York. (Photo: IAEA)

The central role of capacity building for energy transformation was the focus of an IAEA training course held at a major United Nations event on sustainable development this week in New York. It was one of five sessions attended by the IAEA at the event.

Entitled ‘Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies,’ the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development reviews the implementation of a number of Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 7 – ‘ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all’.

The IAEA training course, “What is needed to make capacity building for SDG 7 truly effective?” included presentations of key elements of the IAEA’s capacity building framework for energy planning that integrate the complex challenges associated with the sustainable development goals.

The IAEA instructors shared the IAEA’s experience of over six decades in capacity building for development of sustainable energy strategies. The training session allowed participants to understand the key elements of an effective capacity building programme as well as the use and relevance of model-based scenario analysis for evidence based decision making.

“Energy is central to the achievement of both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” said Xolisa Mabhongo, Representative of the IAEA Director General to the United Nations and Director of the IAEA New York Office, who leads the IAEA delegation at the Forum.

“SDG 7 is directly linked to many other SDGs, including poverty eradication, gender equality, mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, food security, health, clean water and sanitation,” he said. “Therefore, the achievement of the Goal 7 will have many positive outcomes for humanity.”

Effective implementation of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs will require access to knowledge and information, not only for policy makers and leaders to design well-informed and effective policies and strategies, but also for committed and engaged individuals around the world.

To provide a space for academic institutions, think-tanks and other stakeholders to offer learning and training sessions on sustainable development implementation, the Forum that takes place at the UN headquarters in New York from 9-18 July hosts a wide range of side-events running in parallel to the HLPF formal meetings.

Organized by the Division for Sustainable Development in the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the SDG learning sessions offer a series of capacity building and knowledge workshops with high-level experts from academia and other sectors on topics related to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Key areas of the IAEA’s capacity building programme include:

  • Energy models development and transfer.
  • Training and technical assistance.
  • Energy-Economic-Environmental (3E) analyses.
  • Topical studies on sustainable development and climate change.

SDGs 6, 11 and 15

The IAEA has participated in several other sessions held at the Forum.

Isotopic techniques make an important contribution to water management, enabling scientists to determine the source, age, movement and interaction of water above and below ground, said Martin Krause, Director at the IAEA’s Department of Technical Cooperation on the session on SDG 6, which calls for clean water and sanitation for all people. This research allows experts to determine replenishments rates for groundwater and assess the vulnerability of groundwater to pollution, he said, pointing out that 71 ongoing technical cooperation projects and four coordinated research projects deal with water.  

Nuclear techniques make a contribution to the sustainability of cities and their communities, Mr Krause said at the session focusing on SDG 11. “In the areas of energy, water, sanitation, waste management and air pollution nuclear technologies provide solutions to cities,” he said, pointing to Indonesia’s example on combatting air pollution in its major urban areas based on measurements using nuclear techniques.

“Sustainable management of agricultural land and water is fundamental to global food security, especially in the face of climate change and increasingly variable weather conditions,” he said, at the forum on SDG 15 adding that "using nuclear technologies, IAEA supports the development of sustainable land and water management practices that contribute to increasing global agricultural production and food security, while conserving natural resources. The IAEA counts over 200 projects in the area of food and agriculture, many of them jointly implemented with the FAO.”

At the plenary session on advancing science, technology and innovation in support of the SDGs, Mr Krause talked of the role of nuclear science and technology for development. “Governments and citizens around the world are reaping the benefits of nuclear science and technology in fields as diverse as agriculture, health, industry, energy, water management and environmental monitoring,” he said. “We pledge to contribute to resolving development drawing on our unique expertise in science and technology.”

Martin Krause, Director of the Division of Programme Support and Coordination, IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation, attends the United Nations event on sustainable development in New York. (Photo: D. Shropshire/IAEA)

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