More than 200 experts, scientists and officials from 40-plus countries are meeting this week in France at the IAEA´s International Conference on Nuclear Knowledge Management. The focus is on strategies, information management and human resource development.
Like any highly technical endeavour, the use of nuclear technology relies heavily on the accumulation of knowledge. This includes technical information in the form of scientific research, engineering analysis, design documentation, operational data, maintenance records, regulatory reviews and other documents and data. It also includes knowledge embodied in people - e.g. scientists, engineers and technicians and human resources.
In recent years, trends have drawn attention to the need for better management of nuclear knowledge. Depending on region and country, they include an ageing workforce, declining student enrolment figures, the risk of losing nuclear knowledge accumulated in the past, the need for capacity building and transfer of knowledge, and recognition of achieving added value through knowledge sharing and networking.
The global conference is organised for the first time by the IAEA and the Government of France through the Commissariat à l´Energie Atomique (CEA) in cooperation with a number of other international organizations. Sessions run through 10 September at the National Institute of Nuclear Sciences and Technology (INSTN) in Saclay, France. The conference is chaired by Mr. Bernard Bigot - High Commissioner for Nuclear Energy of France.
Opening addresses were given by IAEA Deputy Director General for Nuclear Energy Mr. Y.Sokolov, CEA Deputy Administrator General J.P. Le Roux and senior officials from the co-sponsoring organizations and institutes. The Conference is providing a forum for useful policy and technical debate, demonstrating the commitment of the entire nuclear community to maintain and develop the knowledge and skills needed for the 21st century.
Sessions opened with presentations on possible strategies for managing nuclear knowledge in governments, industry and academia. Three strategic directions were cited: to preserve the legacy of the nuclear development; to share existing knowledge and assure transfer to next generation; and to create new knowledge.
Additionally, leading experts in the field, industrial leaders and governmental officials delivered keynote speeches, highlighting the important role of the IAEA in nuclear knowledge management.
Over a very short period, the IAEA has underscored the importance of the issue, as demonstrated by various initiatives, meetings and symposia organised since 2002. Within its activities, the Agency has elevated knowledge management to a central position and has launched or supported a number of important global initiatives in response to the requests of its Member States. They include the Asian Network for Education in Nuclear Technology, Asian Nuclear Safety Network, and World Nuclear University, among others. Moreover, INIS (the International Nuclear Information System) has been praised for its important contribution to nuclear information management worldwide.