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Latin America and the Caribbean Maintain Momentum for Regional Cooperation in Nuclear Science and Technology


At present, 21 countries are party to the ARCAL Agreement, and since 2007, Spain has participated as a strategic partner of ARCAL. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

Representatives to the Regional Cooperation Agreement for the Promotion of Nuclear Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean (ARCAL) met for the 22nd consecutive year to share their experiences in the successful implementation of the regional programme and to reaffirm their commitment to long-standing technical and economic cooperation efforts.

On the margins of the 65th IAEA General Conference, on 21 September, 54 national attendees, who represented 19 Latin American and Caribbean countries, reflected on technical guidance, infrastructure provision and training courses delivered through the regional cooperative agreement in the last two years. Soraya Alvarez of Cuba and outgoing President of the ARCAL Board, drew attention to emergency interventions made possible through the coordination of the Agreement’s 21 countries.

September 2021 marked the conclusion of Cuba’s two-year-long tenure in the presidency of the ARCAL Board of Representatives and the beginning of Peru’s presidency. “Despite the pandemic, the region of Latin America and the Caribbean has actively pursued the implementation of 10 projects within the ARCAL framework. We have found new and innovative ways to cooperate in the last year,” said newly-appointed ARCAL Board President Eric Anderson Machado, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Peru to the IAEA.

ARCAL’s proposed regional programme for 2022 and 2023 includes projects related to cancer, zoonotic diseases, environmental contamination, waste recovery, food safety and other topics. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

ARCAL impact

Through ARCAL, in the last year, mobile X-ray units were delivered to counterparts in Central America, following the landfall of Hurricanes Eta and Iota; a CT scanner was procured to assess the damage caused by the eruption of La Soufrière volcano in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; and expert advice was extended to Mexican counterparts to manage an outbreak of Mediterranean fruit flies. Most notably, more than 94 laboratories in 33 countries received IAEA assistance through ARCAL for the detection of COVID-19—approximately 12 per cent of those laboratories did not previously possess any RT-PCR equipment.

“ARCAL continues to be an important mechanism for the promotion of South-South cooperation and for tackling some of the most pressing socioeconomic problems in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi in his opening remarks. “Despite the difficulties presented by the pandemic, you have successfully devised a new programme for the 2022-2023 TC Cycle, the biggest programme ever, which will be approved for ARCAL.”

The proposed programme comprises 13 regional technical cooperation (TC) projects to help the participating countries to address the burden of cancer, the detection of emerging zoonotic diseases, food safety and the impact of climate change on daily life. These projects and the corresponding objectives were designed based on a consultative process and correspond to national priorities, as articulated in the recently-finalized Regional Strategic Profile.

“The proposed programme has been designed based on Agenda ARCAL 2030. This profile aims to support Member States in proposing projects that respond to pressing needs and priorities of the region,” said Hua Liu, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation. “ARCAL has played an important role during these unusual times, enabling Member States to maintain close contact and coordination despite physical distancing. The Technical Coordination Body of ARCAL, for instance, met virtually every month throughout 2021.”

Gender mainstreaming has emerged as a recurring theme in the annual meeting of representatives. “ARCAL has made big strides related to gender mainstreaming in nuclear-related fields,” said Director General Grossi, as he drew attention to the establishment of the first regional Women in Nuclear Chapter in Latin America and the Caribbean. “We recognize the very active engagement of women of the region in this initiative and congratulate the ARCAL representatives for this important achievement.”

More than 20 national representatives, project counterparts and Permanent Mission staff attended the meeting on 21 September, 2021. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)


ARCAL, established in 1984, is an agreement between most IAEA Member States in the Latin America and the Caribbean region for technical and economic cooperation to promote the use of nuclear techniques for peace and development.

The Regional Cooperation Agreement provides a framework for collaboration with the support of the IAEA and other international sources of cooperation. The Agreement addresses key development priorities in the region, focusing on pressing needs related to food security, human health, environment, energy, industry and radiological safety.

There are 21 countries party to ARCAL: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. Since 2007, Spain has participated as a strategic partner.

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