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Lab Modernization Event Spotlights Recent Donors and Need for Additional Funding


Holding a glass container containing a CO­2­ reference sample, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi explains how the IAEA Terrestrial Environment Laboratory works to help laboratories around the world understand the global carbon cycle and the role greenhouse gases play in climate change. (Photo: F. Llukmani/IAEA)

Continued strong political and financial support from IAEA Members States is essential to completing the modernization of the Agency’s Nuclear Applications Laboratories in Seibersdorf, near Vienna, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told an audience of government ministers, ambassadors and country delegates this afternoon. Appearing at the ‘ReNuAL2: Building for Science’ event on the side lines of the IAEA’s 65th General Conference, Mr Grossi presented plaques bearing country names and flags to representatives of eight countries planning to announce new contributions to the modernisation project at this year’s Conference. The plaques were added to a new commemorative donor display unveiled at the event.

Mr Grossi thanked contributing countries, saying they had “walked the walk after having talked the talk.”  The recent contributors recognized at the event included: Belgium, Germany, Ghana, Israel, the Republic of Korea, Morocco, Pakistan and Poland. He also cited two countries previously recognized on the display, the United States of America and Switzerland, for providing their second contributions to ReNuAL 2— an acronym for the final phase of the Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories initiative.

Over the last 60 years, the IAEA’s eight nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf have trained thousands of scientists in nuclear techniques that can be applied in addressing environmental, food security and human health challenges. To continue to meet the needs of the increasing number of countries accessing laboratory services, the IAEA is undertaking a significant modernization of the laboratories and needs further financial support.

Mr Grossi showed examples of disease resilient coffee plants developed and grown at the facility’s Plant Breeding Laboratory – operated jointly with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). He also explained, showing a glass container containing a CO­2­ reference sample, how the Terrestrial Environment Laboratory works to help laboratories around the world understand the global carbon cycle and the role greenhouse gases play in climate change.

Mr Grossi called for further financial contributions from countries to develop and enhance the IAEA’s capacities at Seibersdorf, advocating that modernization of the facilities will help the IAEA better support countries in addressing modern challenges like cancer and climate change. He said that more than €7 million was still needed for the project to stay on track for the timely launch of the construction of a new laboratory building in early 2022.

Co-Chairs encourage Friends of ReNuAL Group

Mr Grossi hailed the work of the Co-chairs of the Friends of ReNuAL Group, Germany and South Africa, in encouraging strong Member State support for the ReNuAL initiative.

Speaking on behalf of Germany in its Co-chair capacity, State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Andreas Feicht, announced an additional generous contribution his country was making to the initiative for ReNuAL2. He said: “In this time, most of the challenges we face are global, so we need a global approach; we need technology, and we need innovation.” He described the IAEA’s laboratories as a most important contribution when it comes to applying technology to meet global challenges.

Representing South Africa, Ambassador Rapulane Molekane described the project as being important for humanity and encouraged countries to contribute to ReNuAL 2 and ensure “that we finish what we have started.”

Adapting to change

ReNuAL was launched in 2014, as an effort to modernize the nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf. The initiative has sought to ensure the labs remain fit-for-purpose to respond to countries’ growing demand for training, services and applied research aimed at addressing existing and emerging challenges in food and agriculture, human health, and environmental management.

In September 2020, Mr Grossi launched ReNuAL2 as the final phase of the ReNuAL initiative to complete the modernisation of the remaining laboratories that had not yet been upgraded under the ReNuAL initiative. To date, ReNuAL has delivered three major new laboratory facilities, new site infrastructure, and significant equipment upgrades that have partially or fully addressed the modernization of five of the eight laboratories.

Including the recently recognized contributors, the ReNuAL initiative has received extrabudgetary contributions from 45 Member States, and some institutions and individuals. It has also entered non-traditional private partnerships to provide key laboratory equipment.  Any additional countries that make extrabudgetary contributions to ReNuAL2 will be recognized with a country plaque on the new donor display. The display will be permanently installed in the lobby of the new laboratory building in Seibersdorf upon its completion in late 2023, but in the interim, it will remain on display at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna.

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