Opening Remarks at Third International Conference on Nuclear Knowledge Management - Challenges and Approaches

Vienna, Austria

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano addresses participants at the Third International Nuclear Knowledge Management Conference in Vienna. (Photo: D. Popovich/IAEA)

(As prepared for delivery)

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr Pershukov, Dear Colleagues,

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the Third International Conference on Nuclear Knowledge Management, which we are very happy to host in cooperation with the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency.

Effective knowledge management is vital for success in all industries, and especially in the nuclear sector. A nuclear power programme requires a long-term commitment of people and resources and it is essential that specialist knowledge is shared and maintained.

At present, 450 nuclear power reactors are in operation in 30 countries. Sixty more are under construction and the use of nuclear power looks set to grow in the coming decades.

With its ability to produce steady baseload electricity while emitting very low levels of greenhouse gases, nuclear power can help countries to grow their economies, while mitigating the impact of climate change.

Managing and retaining technical knowledge are major challenges, both in countries with established nuclear power programmes – where an entire generation of experts have begun retiring – and in what we at the IAEA call newcomer countries.

Even in countries that are phasing out nuclear power, critical knowledge must be maintained in order to ensure that decommissioning and environmental remediation of sites are carried out in a responsible manner.

Ensuring the availability of highly qualified staff to assume responsibility for the safe, secure and sustainable operation of nuclear facilities in the coming decades is extremely important. We also need to ensure that critical knowledge is not lost when experts retire.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To help its Member States address some of these challenges, the IAEA has developed a number of programmes in nuclear knowledge management.

We have been organizing Nuclear Knowledge Management and Nuclear Energy Management schools since 2010. So far, over 800 young nuclear professionals have graduated from these schools. This year alone, five such events took place.

In 2013, the IAEA launched the International Nuclear Management Academy initiative to address the lack of Masters programmes in nuclear technology management.

The University of Manchester in the United Kingdom has introduced the first Nuclear Technology Management Masters programme under this initiative. The Russian National Research Nuclear University MEPhI is expected to follow suit.

The IAEA has helped to establish regional and inter-regional nuclear education networks in Africa, Asia, Latin America and, most recently, in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. These have proven to be valuable tools in strengthening cooperation.

Over 10,000 users from more than 100 Member States are using our Cyber Learning Platform for Network Education and Training. It offers more than 300 e-learning courses.

Finally, conferences such as this one provide a valuable opportunity for nuclear managers, knowledge management specialists and decision-makers to share experiences and lessons learned.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The nuclear sector constantly needs new thinking and fresh ideas.

Knowledge management is a broad and complex area, but sharing ideas through events such as this one can bring new perspectives on how we do what we do, and how to do it better. 

The IAEA will continue to work closely with all of you to help ensure that a strong nuclear knowledge base is available in order to ensure the safe and sustainable use of nuclear technology throughout the world.

I wish you productive discussions in the next few days and look forward to hearing about the outcome of this conference.

Thank you.