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New IAEA Laboratories to Help Member States Achieve Sustainable Development Goals

ReNuAl construction

Construction of the new IAEA Insect Pest Control Laboratory began in early September near the Austrian town of Seibersdorf (Photo: B. Benzinger/IAEA)

Construction of new IAEA laboratory buildings, now underway and scheduled for completion in the next two years, will increase the Agency’s ability to respond to Member State requests including to support their endeavours to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

At the first side event of this year’s General Conference yesterday, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano was joined by several high-level dignitaries to celebrate the achievements of the Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories (ReNuAL) project to date and discuss next steps.

"The eight IAEA nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf provide assistance to more than 150 countries in areas such as food and agriculture, human health and the environment," Mr Amano said. "Food security, climate change, cancer, and mosquito and animal-borne diseases present growing challenges, and many Member States increasingly rely on these laboratories for training, technology transfer and analytical services."

This first laboratory building, the new Insect Pest Control Laboratory, will be completed by the end of 2017, and the second, the Flexible Modular Laboratory, which will house an additional two laboratories, is planned for completion in mid-2018. The objective of the modernization is to ensure the laboratories remain capable of responding to Member States' growing and evolving requests for assistance in the peaceful uses of nuclear technology, such as those identified by the SDGs. "ReNuAL will lead to a significant enhancement in the high-quality scientific support we can offer our Member States in improving the well-being and prosperity of their people," Mr Amano said.

The construction of new laboratory buildings has been made possible by extrabudgetary contributions of €20.6 million provided by Member States, with an additional €10.4 million from the IAEA’s regular budget to provide the planned funding of €31 million. The last extrabudgetary pledge of €1.6 million that brought ReNuAL to the extrabudgetary funding target of €20.6 million was made by Canada. The finalized contribution was announced officially in Ottawa on 23 September 2016 by Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion.

"I express my sincere gratitude to all of the Member States who contributed generously to make this very important project possible," Mr Amano said. The IAEA received extrabudgetary contributions from 26 countries bilaterally, and from the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training related to Nuclear Sciences and Applications.  

Nuclear science and technology provide great value beyond energy production, such as human health and food, said Thorsten Herdan, Director General of the Energy Policy Department of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany at the event. "In this regard, Germany recognizes the importance of the ReNuAL project, and our support for this project will continue," he said. "Effective communication with civil society to raise awareness of the value of the non-power applications of nuclear technology is of great importance." 

Ambassador Tebogo Joseph Seokolo of South Africa highlighted the positive impact ReNuAL can have through the benefits it will provide to Member States, and called for all potential donors who can contribute to do so, regardless of the siye of the contribution. "Every contribution to ReNuAL, no matter how large or small, can make a difference in people's lives."

Germany and South Africa are the Co-chairs of the Friends of ReNuAL, a Member State group that seeks to raise awareness of ReNuAL and promote fundraising for the project.

Member States are demonstrating their willingness to support the modernization effort with new contributions, including more than €2 million have recently been received from Oman, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. "Much important work still lies ahead of us. In the coming years, we will also work to ensure the smooth operation and long-term sustainability of the laboratories." Mr. Amano said.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano at side event 'ReNuAL Project: Progress to Date and Looking Ahead' with Heads of Delegations and Ambassadors of Member States who have contributed to ReNuAL (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

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