You are here

Innovative Partnerships for Sustainable Development

Noumea New Caledonia
Yukiya Amano

IAEA Director General Yukiay Amano. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

(As preprared for delivery)

Madam President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am very pleased to attend this conference of the Pacific Community. I congratulate you on the 70th anniversary of your organization.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is ten years younger than the SPC. On Saturday, it will be exactly 60 years since the IAEA Statute entered into force and the Agency formally came into existence.

In the public mind, the IAEA is associated primarily with our work to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons – perhaps also with the assistance we provided after the Fukushima Daiichi accident in 2011. 

But, in fact, our work covers almost everything to do with nuclear science and technology. Nuclear technology plays a much bigger role in our daily lives than most people realise.

From the microchips and battery in your smartphone, to the tyres on your car and the electrical cables in the walls of your home – items such as these are routinely treated with radiation. 

Radiation technology helps to prevent food from spoiling. It can be used to monitor pollution in the sea and on land, identify buildings which may be in danger of collapse after earthquakes, and reveal cracks in the wings of aircraft.  
And, of course, nuclear technology plays a key role in the diagnosis and treatment of major diseases.

Today, I will give you a brief overview of our work to enable developing countries to use nuclear technology to improve the well-being and prosperity of their people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The IAEA motto is Atoms for Peace and Development. Transferring nuclear technology to developing countries is core Agency business and one of the most important areas of our work.

Many Pacific islands face unique challenges, including high vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, increased soil salinity, declining groundwater resources and low crop productivity.

Nuclear technology can help in all of these areas. Let me give you a few examples from this region.

In Fiji, the IAEA is helping to establish an environmental monitoring laboratory to protect coastal resources. Fiji will also participate in a new regional project to use nuclear techniques to determine whether infants under two years are getting enough nutrition.

We will work with scientists in French Polynesia on research into harmful algal blooms, which threaten the safety of seafood.

Palau and New Zealand are taking part in a regional project to assess water resources that are deep underground, using isotopic techniques.

IAEA experts have helped Papua New Guinea to improve livestock production and thus strengthen food security.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The incidence of non-communicable diseases such as cancer is growing at an alarming rate in many developing countries. 

Asia has the highest burden of cancer in the world. Some 55% of global cancer deaths occur in this region and the trend is rising.  

Many developing countries, in Asia and elsewhere, lack both equipment and the trained medical and technical experts needed to treat cancer effectively. The IAEA is working to change that.

We help countries to establish nuclear medicine and radiotherapy facilities. Specialist training – for doctors, medical physicists, radiologists, nurses and researchers – is at the heart of what we do. We have unique e-learning initiatives which enable specialists to receive high-quality training without having to make costly trips abroad.

Our Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy – PACT – helps low- and middle-income countries to take a comprehensive approach to cancer control. 

The IAEA is supporting dozens of national and regional cancer projects in Asia. 

Among SPC members, we have carried out detailed assessments of the cancer situation in Papua New Guinea and Fiji. These are known as imPACT missions. We then help the countries concerned to develop comprehensive cancer programmes.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Energy is indispensable for development. Huge increases in energy supply will be required in the coming decades to support economic development and lift some 2.6 billion people out of energy poverty.

Nuclear power can help to address the twin challenges of ensuring reliable energy supplies, while curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Today, nuclear power produces 11 percent of the world’s electricity. But when it comes to low-carbon electricity, nuclear generates almost one third of the global total.

Nuclear power plants produce virtually no greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants during their operation, and very low emissions over their entire life cycle.

The use of nuclear power reduces carbon dioxide emissions by about two gigatonnes per year. That is the equivalent of total annual Co2 emissions in Russia or India, or of taking more than 400 million cars off the road – every year. 
Thirty countries are already using nuclear power. Around 30 more are considering building their first nuclear power plants, or have started doing so. Most of these possible newcomers are developing nations.

The IAEA does not try to influence countries’ decisions on whether or not to add nuclear power to their energy mix. But if countries decide to proceed, we provide assistance and information so they can use nuclear power safely, securely and sustainably.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I find the theme of this session – Innovative Partnerships for Sustainable Development – very appropriate as partnerships are at the centre of the IAEA’s approach.

We work closely with the World Health Organization on cancer and other non-communicable diseases, and with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN on improving food security.

Our nuclear applications laboratories in Vienna, which are presently being modernized, collaborate with hundreds of partner laboratories throughout the world, including in the Pacific region. We have close relationships with leading NGOs and with the private sector.

Our most important partners are, of course, our 168 Member States. They determine their national priorities and decide in what areas they wish to benefit from nuclear science and technology. We then do our best to provide the support they seek. 

That support is not primarily about handing over equipment. We focus on transferring knowledge and expertise. High-quality technical training helps countries to build their own expertise so they can train future generations of nuclear specialists.  

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If I have counted correctly, nine of the Pacific Community’s 26 members are also Member States of the IAEA. Tonga will, I hope, soon complete the formalities to become the 10th. 

I encourage SPC countries that have not yet done so to consider joining the IAEA. Our technical cooperation programme makes a real difference to the lives of millions of people in developing countries.

In some areas, such as nuclear energy, safety and security, we are the leading international organization. In others, such as human health and food and agriculture, we play a supporting role – but a very effective one.
In all areas of our work, our goal is to achieve concrete results that make a clear difference to the lives of the people we serve. 

The IAEA delivers.

Thank you for your attention. I wish you a very successful conference.