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Partnership for Research and Development: IAEA Collaborative Mechanisms Highlighted at 63rd General Conference

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Najat Mokhtar, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, opened the side event on the role of the IAEA's Coordinated Research Activities and Collaborating Centres. (Photo: N. Ivanova/IAEA)

The role of the IAEA Coordinated Research Activities (CRAs) and Collaborating Centres in helping countries build expertise and skills in the peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology was the focus of a side event held during the 63rd IAEA General Conference today.

“Through CRAs and the Collaborating Centre network, Member States can assist the IAEA by undertaking research and development and training related to nuclear technologies,” said Najat Mokhtar, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, adding that “these efforts encourage scientific studies, innovation and cooperation across Member States.”

Coordinated Research Activities (CRA) bring together research institutions from around the world to collaborate on research topics of common interest under IAEA coordinated research projects (CRPs). This mechanism encourages the acquisition and dissemination of advanced knowledge and expertise in the use of nuclear and isotopic techniques.

The results of the CRPs are shared with the international scientific community through scientific and technical publications, databases, presentations at symposia and conferences, as well as through the transfer of the proven technology under IAEA technical cooperation projects.

At the end of 2018, there were 121 active CRPs with 1600 active research, technical and doctoral contracts or agreements with research institutions from around the world.

This collaboration strengthens shared goals. In her presentation, Victoria Alexeeva an energy economist at the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Energy explained the importance of coordinated research projects:  “Before making a knowledgeable decision on a nuclear power plant programme, the IAEA Milestones document encourages countries embarking on nuclear power to analyse the potential role of nuclear power within their long-term economic development plans. This coordinated research project has brought together experts from 12 countries from different regions of the world to establish a common methodology,  which allows quantifying impacts of nuclear power on the national economy, for example gross domestic product and employment.”

Collaborating Centres

Collaborating Centres are independent institutions that cooperate with the IAEA. They engage in a wide range of research activities, from nuclear security to using radiation for the development of more resilient crops, and from monitoring water resources and environmental conditions to nuclear decommissioning. Thanks to new agreements signed during the General Conference, the global network of collaborating centres has increased to 40, up from 33 last year.

“We believe that R&D and knowledge sharing are key to a successful and sustainable development of nuclear science and technology,” said Mohd Abd Wahab Yusof, Director General of the Malaysian Nuclear Agency, an IAEA collaborating centre. “These IAEA Collaborating Centres enable Member States to achieve the targets identified in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.”

Each collaborating centre is a scientific institute or organization that offers unique facilities and skill sets in a distinct area related to nuclear technology. Centres are chosen for their ability, capacity and readiness to directly contribute to specific IAEA projects and activities. The cooperation is designed to encourage original research and development, while also helping scientists to share knowledge, resources and expertise, prepare reference materials, validate methods and provide training.

These activities in turn help countries, both with Centres and without, get access to scientific support to pursue their development objectives, said Sasha Damjanac, Head of the IAEA’s Research Contracts Administration Section.

“The continuously growing network of Collaborating Centres represents a strong commitment by Member States to the work of the IAEA and support to other Member States by sharing resources and expertise,” he said.

Sasha Damjanac, Head of the IAEA's Research Contracts Administration Section. (Photo: N. Ivanova/IAEA)

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