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General Conference: Day 2 Highlights

The IAEA General Conference is taking place in a hybrid format, with some speakers – such as the State Secretary and Director of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, Benoit Revaz, pictured here, participating virtually. (Photo: M. Gaspar/IAEA)

During the plenary session of the General Conference, 53 delegations delivered statements, which are available here.

The 2021 Scientific Forum on Preparing for Zoonotic Outbreaks: the Role of Nuclear Science opened today. The two-day event is focusing on the various ways in which nuclear techniques play a role in helping countries detect, mitigate and prevent the outbreak of zoonotic diseases. Participants are discussing methods for detecting pathogens and the role of radiation techniques in dealing with the impact of zoonoses on human health. In today’s session, senior officials and leading experts discussed the latest breakthroughs and developments in the preparation and mitigation of global zoonotic outbreaks, such as COVID-19.

A summary article and a video recording of the opening session are now available.

The following side events took place on Tuesday:

The event IAEA Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme: Status and Prospects featured some of the programme’s first graduates since it launched last year, who shared their experience and the impact of the programme on their studies and careers. Participants were also briefed on the status and prospects of the programme, which provides scholarships for women studying towards master’s degrees in nuclear related areas. At the event, participants heard that 29 students are expected to graduate from the programme by the end of this year.

The potential for nuclear power to produce hydrogen for industrial use in the global transition towards net zero emissions was examined by international experts at the event Innovations in the Production and Use of Nuclear Hydrogen for a Clean Energy Transition. Panellists explored developments in the coupling of nuclear power reactors with hydrogen production plants to efficiently produce both electricity and hydrogen as a cogeneration system.

At the event Recruitment at the IAEA: Attracting Talent from Member States, participants learned about the IAEA’s recruitment process, the different contracting modalities that the IAEA offers and the ongoing efforts to reach out to qualified professionals from across Member States, including through the IAEA website and social media. The event also highlighted the importance of Member States’ participation in the cost-free expert and Junior Professional Officer programmes.

The Digitalization in Support of Planning and Implementation of Nuclear Decommissioning event highlighted the practical value of 3D modelling and simulations, visualization, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other similar applications in the planning and implementation of nuclear power plant decommissioning. During the session, experts presented practical examples of how digital technologies have been applied in decommissioning projects. To continue the exchange of information on decommissioning, the IAEA will host the International Conference on Nuclear Decommissioning: Addressing the Past and Ensuring the Future, in Vienna in May 2023.

The event DSRSNet – An International Resource for Disused Sealed Radioactive Source Management showcased new features and resources of DSRSNet through an interactive demonstration. DSRSNet is a CONNECT network established in 2019 as a forum for sharing practical experience, knowledge and international developments on the safe management of Disused Sealed Radioactive Sources (DSRSs).

At the event Developing Capacity for the Wider Use of Stable Isotope Techniques for Source Attribution of Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere, the IAEA and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced their first-ever joint technical cooperation project aimed at supporting experts worldwide in using stable isotopes to measure the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and accurately determine their source. Participants heard about the potential of high-quality stable isotope measurements for generating data for greenhouse gases emissions verification, and how this can impact their efforts to meet their nationally determined contributions.

Participants at the Licensing Novel Advanced Reactors: Addressing the Challenges event discussed the challenges faced in the application of IAEA safety standards given the differences in the design, siting, construction, commissioning, operation, decommissioning, radioactive waste management, safety assessment and regulation of innovative technologies, compared to operating reactors. A panel considered how the IAEA activities and future plans could best help address these issues. 

The event IAEA Procurement: Adding Value in the Implementation of IAEA Programmes provided an overview of the IAEA’s procurement process, the partnerships that underpin it and ongoing initiatives to stay ahead of the curve in sourcing the goods and services needed to implement the Agency’s programmes in support of Member States.

The event COMPASS: Enhancing Safeguards Assistance to States showcased the assistance provided by the IAEA to help States strengthen the effectiveness of State or regional authorities responsible for safeguards implementation (SRAs) and State systems of accounting for and control of nuclear material (SSACs).The Comprehensive Capacity-Building Initiative for SSACs and SRAs (COMPASS) builds on existing IAEA assistance developed over the last 45 years, and the event highlighted the range of support the IAEA can offer States in the field of safeguards.

The IAEA generic roadmap towards implementing a deep geological repository for radioactive waste, based on practices and experiences across a range of national programmes, was presented at the Roadmap towards Implementing a Deep Geological Repository event. Implementing a deep geological repository for radioactive waste is a central enabler of sustainable nuclear power generation and associated fuel cycle activities.

To foster further collaboration in data collection, the event The Power of Data: an IAEA Approach to enhance Cancer Support - from Prevention to Palliation focused on the impact of databases on guiding decision-making. During the event, 10 experts shared their experience on how data from seven publicly available human health global databases can be used in research and in education. Participants also discussed the importance of collaborative data collection though online platforms such as the International Research Integration System (IRIS).

Member States' activities:

At the event Presentation of the Outcomes of the Workshop on Safeguards by Design, organized by Belgium, participants got an overview of the outcomes of a workshop on safeguards by design, which took place in April 2021 in cooperation with the IAEA and the Finnish national regulator.

A roundtable discussing nuclear energy’s role in supporting countries to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 was the focus of the event Deployment of Advanced Nuclear: Baseload Technologies Support Reaching Net Zero, organized by the United States. Participants discussed the multiple features and capabilities of advanced reactor technologies and how they can be used to support countries’ sustainable development goals.

Experts discussed the regulation of medical exposure and proactive activities for enhancing radiation protection at the event A Proactive Approach to the Supervision of Medical Exposure, organized by Sweden. Similarities and differences between various national perspectives were considered.

The event 30 Years of Andra: a Focus on the Geological Disposal Project Cigéo, organized by France, took place virtually from the Andra centre in Meuse/Haute-Marne, where an underground laboratory is used in preparation for the deep geological disposal project called Cigéo. The event was an opportunity to review the Cigéo project from a technical point of view, as well as its development, governance and stakeholder engagement activities.

The main achievements of the TSOF were celebrated at the event Challenges for the TSOF: Ten Years Contributing to Strengthening Scientific Capacities for Nuclear Safety and Security for Regulatory Frameworks and Infrastructures, organized by Belgium. One such achievement included the TSO initiative based on the IAEA TECDOC-1835 comprising a new self-assessment methodology with the TOSCA-tool. The IAEA support for the activities was highlighted.

Innovation, sustainable planning and financing in just and clean energy transitions were the key discussions at The Roles of Nuclear Innovation in a Just and Clean Transition event, organized by the United States. Participants discussed how clean energy conserves the environment and uplifts communities worldwide; ways in which innovative, flexible and integrated systems accelerate progress on climate goals quickly, affordably and justly; and the ways in which nuclear can advance the lives of women and girls.

At the EU hosted GC65 side event “Renewing Commitments: Signing Ceremony for the Revised and Updated Strategic Master Plan for Environmental Remediation of Uranium Legacy Sites in Central Asia,” progress achieved at the sites in Central Asia was discussed. The signing of the revised and updated Strategic Master Plan for Environmental Remediation of Uranium Legacy Sites in Central Asia also took place at this event, at which international partners and Central Asian Member States renewed their commitment to the continued regional engagement and coordinated partnership to remediate uranium legacy sites in the region.

The event “Renewing Commitments: Signing Ceremony for the Revised and Updated Strategic Master Plan for Environmental Remediation of Uranium Legacy Sites in Central Asia” was one of many side events taking place on the margins of the IAEA’s 65th General Conference today. (Photo: K. Cottrell/IAEA)

Women discussed their career experiences and paths to achieving their goals in radiological and nuclear security fields at the Women in Nuclear and Radiological Security event organized by the United States. The event focused on women’s careers in this area, including the successes, challenges, and the importance of advocacy and support for women as well as associated organizations and institutions.

How to maintain security during the nuclear decommissioning process was the focus of the Nuclear Security During Decommissioning: International Perspectives event, organized by the United Kingdom. Participants discussed ways of ensuring nuclear security within this context remained proportionate and effective as potential risk and threats changed. Speakers included academic experts and international practitioners who shared insights on key considerations and potential challenges.

At the event Sustainability Compliance for Nuclear Energy as a Crucial Element of National Climate Policy, organized by Russia, the focus was on climate regulation and the specifics of national experiences in the use of nuclear energy for reducing a country's carbon footprint. The event highlighted nuclear energy as one of the main tools for combating climate change.

Outcomes from webinars and regional workshops in Africa, Asia and South America on the peaceful uses of nuclear technologies were reviewed at the event Expanding the Benefits of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technologies under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), organized by the United Kingdom. The event highlighted the importance of nuclear techniques for development and in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, and identified barriers to their continued expansion to the developing world.

The event Commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of ABACC, organized by the Brazilian–Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC), focused on reviewing the activities of ABACC in the application of safeguards in Argentina and Brazil.

Other activities:

Signing Ceremony with ETSON: Practical Arrangements (PA) for a period of three years (2021-2024) was signed by Lydie Evrard, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, and Uwe Stoll, ETSON Board President, on the side-lines of the 65th IAEA General Conference. The objective of this PA between the IAEA and ETSON is to set forth the framework for continued cooperation between the Parties in the area of scientific and technical cooperation regarding nuclear and radiation safety.

Signing Ceremony with IRSN: The Director General of the Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléair (IRSN), Mr Jean Christophe Niel, and the IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, Lydie Evrard, signed Practical Arrangements to designate the IRSN as an IAEA Capacity Building Centre for medical preparedness and response to radiological and nuclear emergencies.

Signing Ceremony with UNALM: A new IAEA Collaborating Centre agreement was signed with the Universidad Nacional Agraria de La Molina (UNALM) in Peru. The new Collaborating Centre will widen the area of cooperative research with the IAEA on mutation breeding and associated biotechnologies to all crops of focus at the UNALM. Of particular mention is the banana and the fight against the devastating disease, Fusarium wilt TR4. There are now 55 IAEA collaborating centres in 36 IAEA Member States.

The Collaborating Centre plaque was handed over by Najat Mokhtar, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, to HE Eric Anderson Machado, Resident Representative, Head of Permanent Mission of Peru to the IAEA. (Photo: E. Orucevic/IAEA)


Last update: 22 Sep 2021

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