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IAEA Highlights Unique Contributions for Sustainable Development at International Scientific Forum


Jean-Pierre Cayol from the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, describes how the Agency provides technical support, advice and equipment to its Member States in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. (Photo: J. Howlett/IAEA)

IAEA experts highlighted the essential role of the Agency in moving nuclear science and technology out of the laboratory and into the field in response to development needs of countries around the world. Martin Krause, Director of the Division for Programme Support and Coordination, speaking on behalf of the IAEA at a special session at the margins of a United Nations meeting on science, technology and innovation in Vienna last week, underlined how the IAEA’s mandate of Atoms for Peace and Development aims to maximise the opportunities that nuclear applications offer for sustainable development.

Fifty international experts from the across the United Nations system, governments, academia and the public and private sectors attended the meeting in Vienna last week, shared their insights and reviewed progress in leveraging science, technology and innovation (STI) to achieve the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and its 17 constituent Goals — the SDGs. Their deliberations will provide input for the fifth annual STI Forum in May, and ultimately, for the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July, which aims to speed up efforts to meet the Development Agenda’s target date of 2030.

The tone of the three-day workshop was set by the President of the Economic and Social Council, Mona Juul, who said, “We are not on track. Science, technology and innovation are crucial to be able to achieve the SDGs. We need to accelerate these if we are to achieve them”. Katherine Richardson, a member of the Independent Group of Scientists, noted that while the STI gap between the developed and developing world is closing, inequalities are still rising. “STI can be the lever that can help us to use resources more efficiently, maximising human welfare while minimising environmental costs, but we need to ensure that technology is democratised, and is made available to everyone,” she said.

At a special session on Nuclear Technology for the SDGs, IAEA officials highlighted how the Agency supports the use of nuclear science and technology by countries around the world in their efforts to achieve key goals in areas such as human and animal health, food and nutrition, and climate adaptation, monitoring and mitigation.

Shaukat Abdulrazak, the Director responsible for technical cooperation in Africa, said: “For over 60 years, we have provided support in many areas to help meet the increasing demands for better health, food and water as well as energy security. What we must continue to do is ensure young scientists have access to these technologies so that progress benefits everyone for generations to come.”

Jean-Pierre Cayol, Programme Coordinator at the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications underlined the Agency’s essential role in increasing the impact of nuclear science by moving nuclear technology out of the laboratory and into the field in response to development needs. “The IAEA conducts research and develops technologies which, once tested and verified, can be transferred and used by our Member States. We then train our country counterparts to take this technology further in a safe and secure manner.”

Aliki Van Heek of the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Energy, provided context to the expected global surge in demand for electricity, which is projected to double by 2050. She further underscored the relevance of nuclear power as part of the solution.

“Nuclear power provides 10 percent of the world’s electricity and, along with hydro and wind power, is the lowest emitter of greenhouse gases, amounting to almost one third of all low carbon electricity,” Van Heek said. “Nuclear power’s round-the-clock electrical availability, which can back up variable renewables such as solar and wind, is another reason why it has a key role to play in addressing climate change. The IAEA assists countries in planning and capacity building for energy systems, as well as in the safe and secure use of nuclear power.”

International experts from a broad range of scientific fields met in Vienna to share insights and review progress in science, technology and innovation to achieve the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. (Photo: O Yusuf/IAEA)


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