Side event at the GC56: ‘Nuclear Technology for a Sustainable Future’

GC Joint Side Event On 20 September 2012, the IAEA Departments of Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Sciences and Applications and Technical Cooperation held a joint side event at the 56th IAEA General Conference, entitled Nuclear Technology for a Sustainable Future.

The side event presented the role of science and technology in sustainable development and discussed the IAEA’s participation in the United Nations Rio+20 Conference, as well as its role in the post-Millennium Development Goals (MDG) agenda. In addition, the IAEA’s new Ocean Acidification Centre was presented as an example of how the IAEA is contributing to sustainable development through nuclear technology.

Daud Mohamad, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, opened the side event with a brief review of how the IAEA’s work – addressing development issues with nuclear techniques – fits into the Rio+20 priorities and contributes to achieving “the future we want”. Recalling the Rio+20 events, Mr Mohamad stressed the need to improve communications on the IAEA’s work in order to inform the development community of the importance of nuclear science and technology in addressing global development issues.

Kwaku Aning, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation, in turn explained how mechanisms, such as the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme, can help establish a base for science and technology in the context of sustainable development.

GC Joint Side Event Juan Antonio Casas-Zamora, Director, Division of Programme Support and Coordination, Department of Technical Cooperation, provided participants with an overview of how science, technology and innovation contribute to sustainable development. In his presentation, Mr Casas-Zamora outlined the various areas in which nuclear techniques could play a significant role in the development agenda beyond 2015, and emphasised the necessity for bridging the gap between science and development. He also promoted partnership and interregional cooperation as the main mechanism to foster the transfer of knowledge from the developed world to developing countries.

Holger Rogner, Head, Planning and Economic Studies Section, Department of Nuclear Energy, summarized the IAEA’s activities at Rio+20 and briefly commented on the Rio+20 outcome document - the product of a two year long negotiation process under the Commission of Sustainable Development (CSD) umbrella. According to Mr Rogner, the Rio+20 discussions demonstrated that a limited understanding of the benefits of nuclear techniques prevent the full integration of nuclear technology into the sustainable development agenda. However, the development discussion at Rio+20 on the topics of green economy and green growth touched on many of the issues to which the IAEA contributes.

Michel Warnau, Head, Radioecology Laboratory, Environment Laboratories, Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, spoke about the IAEA Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC), which supports international efforts to research and mitigate ocean acidification. The Centre was established under the IAEA’s Peaceful Uses Initiative and is supported by several IAEA Member States.

Following a fruitful Q&A session, participants attended a reception at the IAEA exhibition on Making a Difference with Nuclear Technology where they could talk to technical specialists and programme management officers about the IAEA’s contribution to global development. A film on ocean acidification was screened during the reception.