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IAEA-CARICOM Framework Focuses on Strengthening Cooperation in the Caribbean


On the first day of the Steering Committee’s meeting, the visiting senior representatives of CARICOM technical institutions met with IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi to discuss their ongoing collaboration, facilitated through the TC programme. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA) 

Two years ago, member countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the IAEA endorsed a seven year Regional Strategic Framework (RSF), compiling the shared development challenges affecting countries in the Caribbean, and clarifying how and where nuclear science, nuclear technologies and the IAEA could contribute to their resolution. Last month, from 21 to 25 November, 18 senior representatives of the CARICOM technical institutions — the RSF Steering Committee —  met in Vienna to review progress in the Framework’s implementation, to identify persisting challenges in the Caribbean and to propose corresponding regional actions to expand IAEA assistance.

“There are close to 20 million people living in CARICOM countries, and despite geographical differences, they are united by common challenges and opportunities in the areas of agriculture and food production, human health, radiation safety, energy, radiation technology and the environment,” said Saul Perez Pijuan, a Section Head in the IAEA technical cooperation (TC) Division for Latin America and Caribbean.

At the meeting, experts from the Caribbean provided updates regarding the RSF’s implementation and described how closer collaboration with the IAEA has yielded greater impact on the ground, for example through practical arrangements with the Agency and its support to the region, including the transfer of nuclear technology to national institutions.

At the end of the meeting, the Steering Committee provided recommended actions to be considered for incorporation into the IAEA’s  technical cooperation programme cycle 2024-2025 which may advance the achievement of RSF outcomes across all thematic areas. The RSF acts as a reference for the planning of regional projects under the IAEA’s TC programme.

On the first day of the Steering Committee meeting, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi met with the executives and representatives of CARICOM technical institutions to better understand their needs and to explore how technical cooperation activities may respond.

“The existing analytical facilities in the Caribbean for the determination of trace, toxic and beneficial elements in agricultural products, as well as the upcoming installation of a self-contained Gamma Irradiator, aligns the International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences (ICENS) with both the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA), making them ideal collaborating institutions,” said Charles Grant, Director General of ICENS.

Aware of the potential for networking and partnerships to multiply the impact of TC activities, the IAEA has previously organized field visits and welcomed one CARICOM Assistant-Secretary General, six CEOs and three boards of regional organizations at the IAEA’s Vienna headquarters and its laboratories in Seibersdorf, Austria.  

“Particular areas of work include the isotopic analysis, plant mutation breeding and the application of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) for the eradication of the West Indian Fruit Fly in the region,” Grant continued.

18 CARICOM representatives participated in the four-day meeting, providing updates and progress reports across four priority areas and meeting with IAEA Deputy Director General Hua Liu, pictured above. (Photo: J. O'Brien/IAEA) 

Launch of e-learning course on radiation protection

One of the principal needs of the 2020-2026 Regional Strategic Framework for the Caribbean region is to enhance capacity to ensure the radiation protection of workers and to raise awareness that, in the peaceful application of nuclear science and technology, the basic principles of radiation protection for workers is vital. 

During the technical meeting, the IAEA launched a new e-learning course on Radiation Protection for Occupationally Exposed Workers, freely available to professionals in this specialised area and designed and tailored specifically to the  needs of CARICOM countries. 

The course explores the basic principles of radiation protection, workplace monitoring, radiation protection for internal and external exposures, as well as the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). The online training course also includes instructional videos to ensure participants are familiar with the hands-on use of detection equipment and PPE.

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