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IAEA General Conference Concludes: Resolutions Adopted


The plenary of the IAEA 66th General Conference. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

The 66th annual IAEA General Conference has concluded with resolutions adopted on nuclear and radiation safety, nuclear security, strengthening the effectiveness and improving the efficiency of Agency safeguards, and the Agency’s work in the areas of nuclear science, technology and applications, as well as its technical cooperation activities.

Held annually in Vienna, the General Conference is the IAEA’s supreme decision-making body and consider matters related to the IAEA’s ongoing work, budget and priorities. This year, over 2500 participants attended the conference in person, including delegates from 153 of the IAEA’s 175 Member States, and from international organizations, non-governmental organization and the media.

In his opening statement on Monday, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said the IAEA is helping countries address some of today’s biggest global challenges — that Member States are harnessing the benefits of nuclear science and technology to better prepare for the next zoonotic disease outbreak; to mitigate and adapt to climate change; to improve food and water security; to fight cancer; and to clean up the ocean.

Mr Grossi emphasized that nuclear safety and security in Ukraine are top priorities for the IAEA, and that shelling has put Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in peril and repeatedly interrupted its external power supplies. The Director General has proposed ensuring the physical integrity of the plant by establishing a nuclear safety and security protection zone as soon as possible. This proposal has garnered strong international support.

In his address, Mr Grossi highlighted the role of nuclear energy in helping countries to meet their energy needs and in addressing the ‘existential crisis’ of climate change. He said the climate crisis and the energy crisis have prompted more countries to look to nuclear power as part of the solution and the IAEA has revised up its annual projections of the potential growth of nuclear power capacity to 2050. In the coming two months, the IAEA together with the United States, will host the International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century, in Washington D.C., and take part the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

Mr Grossi also spoke on several IAEA initiatives, including Rays of Hope, to support countries in increasing access to cancer care; and NUTEC Plastics, to help countries recycle and trace plastic pollution. He highlighted developments with the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme and cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to address food security, as well as ongoing nuclear safeguards non-proliferation activities.

The General Conference approved the Agency’s Financial Statements for 2021 and Budget for 2023.

IAEA resolutions and decisions will guide the IAEA’s implementation of activities in the coming year. The resolutions and decisions will be posted here as they become available.

By the end of the 66th General Conference 87 Member States had pledged to the Technical Cooperation Fund for 2023. The total amount pledged against the Technical Cooperation Fund target for 2023 is 32,878 492.00 euros, representing 35.51 per cent of the target — the highest percentage and highest amount of pledge as of the end of any General Conference.

The General Conference elected 11 countries to serve on the 35-member IAEA Board of Governors for the period 2022-2023. The newly elected Board members are Brazil, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Denmark, Kenya, Namibia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Türkiye and Uruguay.

Scientific Forum and side events

A total of 84 side-events took place during the week — 41 of them organised by the IAEA —showcasing the range of activities underway across the Agency’s diverse areas of work.

A two-day Scientific Forum on ‘Rays of Hope: Cancer Dare for All’ focused on expanding and establishing cancer diagnosis, treatment and care capabilities in countries with limited access — 70 per cent of cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

The forum brought together high-level representatives and leading experts from around the world to over five sessions discuss the role of radiation technologies in the medical management of cancer patients; the development of regional ‘anchor centres’; the importance of access to modern technology, such as telemedicine and IT-based tumour boards, in enabling the expansion of cancer care services; incorporating uses of radiation in medicine within the wider cancer control continuum with consideration for safety and security in radiation medicine and the role of global cancer initiatives; and the importance of partnerships and collaborations in promoting access to cancer care through the IAEA’s Rays of Hope initiative.

The opening session’s high-level speakers included Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President, Malawi; Benjamin Hounkpatin, Minister of Health, Benin; Jennifer M. Granholm, Secretary, US Department of Energy, United States of America; François Jacq, General Administrator, French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), France; and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, World Health Organization (WHO). Shekinah Elmore, Assistant Professor and Radiation Oncologist, UNC-Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, United States of America delivered a keynote address.

During the week, over 200 delegates from almost 30 different IAEA Members States also took part in guided tours on offer of the IAEA laboratories at the Agency’s headquarters in Vienna and in Seibersdorf, Austria.

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