IAEA General Conference to Start on Monday

The IAEA General Conference, the Agency’s annual meeting and main governance event, will take place next week at the Vienna International Centre. The meeting is held against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with special precautions. The Agency’s support to its Member States in the fight against COVID-19 is expected to take centre stage in the deliberations.

“I look forward to welcoming Member States to the General Conference,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi in an address to the Agency’s Board of Governors earlier this week. He noted that the Agency has “taken steps to protect the health and safety of all participants” in light of COVID-19.

Agenda items are expected to include topics related to nuclear and radiation safety and ways of strengthening the Agency’s activities in nuclear science, technology and applications, as well as the application of IAEA safeguards in the Middle East and in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Delegates will also discuss the IAEA’s 2019 technical cooperation report, annual report and financial statements, and its budget update for 2021.

The complete list of documents provided to delegates is available here.

Many of the IAEA’s 171 Member States will be represented at the meeting, from 21 to 25 September, including at ministerial level. However, the number of participants physically permitted to attend Conference meetings has been reduced to two delegates per Member State, to comply with the Austrian authorities’ requirements regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional delegates will be able to follow the proceedings in all official languages, virtually.

General Conference sessions in the Plenary Hall, including the statements of officials and delegates, will be livestreamed for the public.

Side events to take place online

Throughout the General Conference, 39 side events will be held virtually – with a number of these also open to the general public – highlighting the innovative work underway at the IAEA and in Member States using nuclear techniques.

One side event will showcase the ways in which artificial intelligence-based approaches in nuclear science could advance cancer staging in nuclear medicine and cancer treatment through radiotherapy, accelerate progress in nuclear fusion research, and help protect global water resources from overexploitation and contamination.

A number of speakers will address topics related to the legal frameworks and sustainability of nuclear security in a TED Talk style event format, and another event will focus on the role of nuclear technology in the fight against cervical cancer.

A new initiative aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of State systems of accounting for, and control of, nuclear material (SSACs) will be presented at an event, showing how it will address the challenges faced by SSACs in safeguards implementation.

Celebrating 20 Years of the International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO), this event will present INPRO’s activities and highlight the tools developed that relate to all aspects relevant to the sustainability of nuclear energy. These include economics, safety, security, environmental impact, non-proliferation, and effective national and international infrastructure. The session will also describe INPRO’s vision for the changing energy needs and technologies of the 21st century.

A Treaty Event, aimed at promoting adherence to multilateral treaties for which the IAEA Director General is depositary, will give Member State representatives an opportunity to deposit instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

Other side events include sessions highlighting the accomplishments of the Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories (ReNuAL) in Seibersdorf Austria, the common issues in regulatory infrastructure development among countries embarking on a nuclear power programme, how IAEA peer review missions enhance the safe operation and effective utilization of research reactors, and an event to Mark the Tenth Anniversary of the IAEA’s Nuclear Law Institute.

The full list of side events is available here.

Due to COVID-19 related restrictions, no exhibitions will be held at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna this year.

Scientific Forum on nuclear power

A two-day Scientific Forum titled “Nuclear Power and the Clean Energy Transition” will be held from 22 to 23 September. The Forum, which will also be held in both physical and virtual format, will be opened by the IAEA Director General and will feature several high-level speakers from government, industry and international organizations.

Sessions will address the growing demand for energy that the world faces while needing to tackle the realities of climate change, focusing on how nuclear power can contribute to climate change goals and play a role in the clean energy transition.

Topics will explore the scientific and technological innovations underway across the nuclear energy sector including innovative reactor designs and construction methods; how nuclear power can support deep decarbonization; the management, storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel, and the key barriers that hinder the greater use of nuclear power in the global transition to clean energy.

For the full programme, click here

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