An intense week of discussion and exchange started on Monday, 20 September, when the IAEA´s General Conference (GC) officially opened. This is the Agency's fifty-fourth General Conference. Held annually, the Conference is also the Agency´s highest policymaking body.
Senior officials and representatives from 151 IAEA Member States are gathering to address issues ranging from the IAEA´s budget and plan of work for the coming year, to resolutions on development and security issues.
IAEA Deputy Director General David Waller explains that the GC works almost like a "three-ring circus". Member States representatives´ discussions hold center stage. Simultaneously, Member States and the Secretariat develop research and technical cooperation plans, nuclear regulators´ meet and the IAEA´s Scientific Forum is held.
"This year's Scientific Forum will be focusing on combating cancer in developing countries," says Waller.
Although the media often refers to the IAEA as "the UN´s nuclear watchdog", its mission and work addresses much more than nuclear non-proliferation, such as establishing and refining nuclear safety standards, improving human and animal health, agriculture and resource management. A number of events and meetings to be held during the GC reflect the diversity of the IAEA´s work.
Nuclear technology now comprises a broad spectrum of activities, including power generation, industrial applications, and food and water security.
"Nuclear technology, in my view, is the most powerful technology that we have. Its application covers mankind´s every activity," says Kwaku Aning, the Secretary of IAEA´s Policy Making Organs.
Waller and Aning stress that the GC is the most important networking opportunity for the nuclear world. They both emphasize the annual meeting´s crucial role as the premier global forum for exchanging ideas and enhancing collaboration to ensure the peaceful applications of nuclear technology.