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Statement at Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics

Trieste, Italy
Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) 50th Anniversary Celebrations

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I congratulate the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics on its 50th anniversary.

In his Nobel Lecture in December 1979, Abdus Salam said: "Scientific thought... is the common and shared heritage of mankind."

I believe that approach is the basis of much of the work of both the ICTP and of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The ICTP has made a huge contribution to advancing scientific expertise in developing countries.

The IAEA, for its part, works to make the advantages of peaceful nuclear science and technology available to developing countries.

So we are natural partners.

The ICTP's theoretical work helps to underpin the practical day-to-day activities of the IAEA. We greatly value our association with the Centre, which goes right back to the beginning, and with our partners UNESCO and the Government of Italy.

The ICTP was originally part of the Agency.

In 1993, administration of the ICTP was transferred to UNESCO. We are still an important contributor to the ICTP budget and we work together in many areas, including training and nuclear knowledge management.

This year, for example, our two organisations launched a two-year masters degree course in medical physics, which we developed together.

Later today, I look forward to attending the opening of the IAEA X-Ray Fluorescence Beamline at the Elettra laboratory, which has been an IAEA Collaborating Centre since 2005.

This important joint project will help to give research groups from developing countries better access to synchrotron radiation technology, which has important applications in human health, food and agriculture and other areas.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In my visits to IAEA Member States all over the world, I become more and more convinced of the vital importance of science and technology for sustainable development.

I believe that nuclear science and technology have much to contribute to the achievement of development goals in areas such as human health, agriculture, water management, and industrial applications, as well as in energy.

I see the impact of this technology on the lives of cancer patients, who gain access to better health care because the IAEA helps their countries build capacity in nuclear medicine for diagnosis and radiotherapy.

I see it in the lives of farmers, who can grow larger crops of basic foods such as rice and barley, even in difficult conditions, thanks to the availability of robust new varieties of plants developed through radiation techniques.

All of this technology originated from basic theoretical research, which may have begun many years earlier.

It is fascinating for me to see how ideas that originated in the minds of brilliant scientists, brought together by organisations such as the ICTP, can have a real and lasting impact in the lives of ordinary people around the world.

This is one of the most rewarding aspects of my work as Director General of the IAEA.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The nations of the world are presently considering new sustainable development goals for the years after 2015.

At the IAEA General Conference last month, I asked our Member States to help ensure that the importance of science and technology is explicitly recognised as a central part of the post-2015 agenda.

This should include recognition of the immense benefits of peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology. I am doing what I can to build awareness in this area.

The impressive list of speakers at the ICTP 50th anniversary celebrations in the next few days shows how important your work is for developing countries as they strive to build up their scientific expertise.

I compliment the ICTP on 50 successful years and wish you continued success in the coming decades.

Thank you.


Last update: 25 Nov 2019

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