GC 56 Comes to a Close

US Secretary of Energy After five days of deliberations and side events, the 200 delegations to the IAEA’s 56th General Conference have departed the Vienna International Centre. The General Conference, held from 17 to 21 September, was attended by more than 3 000 representatives from Member States, observer countries, United Nations and specialized agencies, IGOs and NGOs, each seeking to learn more about the IAEA and its work in furthering the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

Throughout the week, delegates had the opportunity not only to discover more about the services and expertise that the IAEA makes available to its Member States through its Departments of Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Sciences and Applications and Technical Cooperation, but also to learn how the Agency applies nuclear technology to contribute to sustainable development throughout the world.

To highlight this information, a joint exhibition by these three Departments, titled ‘Making a Difference with Nuclear Technology’, presented the IAEA’s work in food security, human health, water and oceans, environment and industrial applications, energy and waste. The joint exhibition was supplemented by Departmental information stands situated outside the conference plenary hall, where participants could talk to specialists and collect hard copies of information to bring home and share.

Throughout the week, experts from the various thematic areas in which the IAEA works were available to answer questions and ensure that each participant received the information that they required. These interactions with scientists and specialists offered delegates an in-depth understanding of the science behind the IAEA’s contributions to peace, health and prosperity, as well as the range of development areas where such science can be deployed.

The General Conference not only provided information on the activities taking place within the IAEA, it also provided a glimpse of how the IAEA is working in partnership with the United Nations and specialised agencies to provide the science, technology and innovation needed to develop the “future we want”, a concept derived from Rio +20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in June this year.

This theme was highlighted in a side event to the General Conference on 20 September titled ‘Nuclear Technology for a Sustainable Future’. At this well attended side event, the IAEA Deputy Directors General of the three Departments, as well as senior staff members, spoke about the IAEA’s presence at the Rio+20 Conference and its role in fulfilling the post Millennium Development Goal agenda. The event provided valuable information to Member States and other participants to fully understand how science and technology contribute to the advancement of sustainable development globally.