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IAEA Highlights the Role of Nuclear Applications in Support of Climate Adaptation and Mitigation

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Wei Huang, Director, Division of Planning, Information and Knowledge Management, Department of Nuclear Energy, IAEA, speaking at the High-level Polictical Forum on Sustainable Development. (Photo L. Vai/IAEA)

The IAEA highlighted the contributions made by nuclear science and technology at a major United Nations Forum in New York earlier this month and outlined how it supports countries in combatting the effects of climate change.

The 2019 UN High Level Political Forum is the United Nations’ central platform for following up and reviewing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The annual event provides Member States, UN organizations and stakeholders with an opportunity to assess achievements, share experiences and increase global cooperation for the universal call to action.

Focusing this year on “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”, the eight day event reviewed six of the 17 SDGs over 33 meetings, 156 side-events, eight special events, 36 exhibitions and 17 Voluntary National Review laboratories. The event brought together more than 2000 participants, including more than 125 Heads and Deputy Heads of States and ministerial level officials, and 130 speakers in panels.

The review of SDG 13 to combat climate change highlighted the critical challenge to meeting the Global Goals posed by global warming. “Climate change is perhaps the greatest challenge to sustainable development,” said Wei Huang of the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Energy. “To help mitigate the impact of climate change, the IAEA is supporting around 150 Member States, those with or without nuclear power, to build and maintain local capacity to develop and implement sustainable energy and mitigation policies.”

The IAEA’s technical cooperation programme provides expert assistance to monitor and help Member States adapt to the effects of climate change on their environment and habitats. The IAEA also provides capacity building in the application of nuclear technology to improve food security and manage water resources as well as to protect biodiversity in a changing environment.  

Recent examples included the management of freshwater and agricultural systems, advice on developing climate-smart agricultural methods, and support to monitor ocean pollutants and acidification.

The Forum acknowledged the essential importance of planning, funding and managing gender issues across all aspects of the SDGs when working towards individual targets. In addition, Forum participants highlighted the importance of working together for the achievements of the Goals, and of avoiding a ‘silo mentality’.

“In this regard, partnerships are essential to the work of the IAEA, by further amplifying the reach of nuclear science and technology,” said Laura Vai, from the IAEA’s Department of Technical Cooperation. “Partnerships allow us to build on each other’s strengths, to work with a greater focus in a complementary manner. Ultimately we can support Member States to achieve a bigger impact with more sustainable results.”

In connection to the ongoing campaign to understand and address climate change, the IAEA will host the first International Conference on Climate Change and the Role of Nuclear Power in October 2019 in Vienna. The Conference will provide a platform to discuss the scientific and technical aspects of the role of nuclear power, including both opportunities and challenges in combating climate change.

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