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Nuclear Techniques in Achieving SDGs: IAEA and Malaysia Host Seminar


IAEA’s Oscar Acuña handing a plaque to Mohamad Ashhar, Director General of the Malaysian Nuclear Agency, designating the Malaysian Nuclear Agency as an IAEA Collaborating Centre.

More than 200 participants took a hard look at nuclear science and technology and how it could help them achieve their development objectives during the IAEA’s first ever national roundtable seminar on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Held in Malaysia last month, the event involved officials from government, academia and non-governmental organizations and focused on several areas, including nuclear techniques for water resources and environment conservation and nuclear technology for the promotion of sustainable agriculture.

Speaking at the event, Oscar Acuña, Section Head at the Asia and Pacific Division in the IAEA's Department of Technical Cooperation, highlighted Malaysia’s work with nuclear technology in several areas. “Malaysia has been utilizing nuclear science and technology in the areas of human health, food and agriculture, industrial application and environment and water resources management, and it has been an excellent partner to the IAEA in all these key areas,” he said.   

The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, represents an ambitious effort by the international community to progress on numerous sustainable development issues.

The Agenda outlines 17 SDGs. The IAEA provides support to Member States to use nuclear science and technology to help achieve the goals of zero hunger, good health and well-being, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, investments in industry, innovation and infrastructure, climate action, conserving and sustainably using life below water, sustainably managing life on land and revitalizing global partnerships for achieving the goals.

“Though the goals are clear, the way forward can be challenging and much is to be done if they are to be reached by 2030,” said Acuña. “Nuclear science and technology are able to provide concrete development solutions and data to support both policy development and intervention efficacy assessments of progress towards specific goals.”

The techniques discussed include the use of medical ionizing radiation for the treatment of non-communicable diseases as well as the use of radiation to sterilize medical and healthcare products, among others.

Collaborating to achieve sustainable development

On the occasion of the meeting, the Malaysian Nuclear Agency received its designation as an IAEA Collaborating Centre in the area of radiation processing of polymer and natural polymer and nanomaterials.

Collaborating Centres assist the IAEA in implementing selected programmatic activities, for example the development and application of technology related to an IAEA Programme.

The Malaysian Nuclear Agency was previously designated as an IAEA Collaborating Centre in the area of radiation processing of polymer and natural polymer and nanomaterials from 2006-2009 and 2010-2014. It is also a Collaborating Centre in the area of non-destructive testing for industry.


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