IAEA Showcases South-South Cooperation Successes at Bangkok Conference

From 12 to 14 September, at the United Nations Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD Expo) in Bangkok, Thailand, the IAEA showcased the contributions of nuclear technology to global development and shared best practices in South-South and Triangular Cooperation, organizing a side event in collaboration with the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Government of Thailand, and an exhibition booth, complementing the IAEA Virtual Booth launched in July.

The Expo was held in person for the first time since 2018 and held in the Asia-Pacific region for the first time ever. The event brought together more than 4 000 representatives of national governments, development agencies and over 20 United Nations agencies, in addition to private sector and youth delegates.

South-South cooperation plays a key role in the implementation of the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme. “It’s quite simple: we couldn’t fulfil our mandate of Atoms for Peace and Development without it,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi on the Expo’s opening day, stressing that South-South cooperation is key to the work of the IAEA.

“Many developing countries in Asia and the Pacific are now actively support neighbouring countries by providing training on nuclear techniques to support better healthcare outcomes, cleaner environments and safer food,” said Ambassador Morakot Sriswasdi of the Kingdom of Thailand, underscoring the strong support extended by her government to the IAEA in support of its efforts to promote south-south cooperation. “The Government of Thailand is committed to supporting this dynamic and co-organized this side event to help share the experiences, good practices and wisdom of south-south policymakers and practitioners. We believe that nuclear science and technology is a valuable contribution to achieving the SDGs.”

Held on 13 and 14 September, respectively, the regional Asia-Pacific Directors Forum and in the Global Directors Forum benefitted from IAEA interventions, underscoring the crucial role that partnerships plays in South-South cooperation at the IAEA. (Photo: IAEA)

Held on 12 September, UN South-South Day, the IAEA side event ‘Harnessing the Power of the Atom to Support COVID-19 Recovery and Address Global Challenges’ benefitted from high level participation, with interventions by Xiaojun Grace Wang, the Deputy Director for Programme and Operations at the UNOSSC, and Adnan Aliani, Director of Strategy and Programme Management at ESCAP, as well as representatives from Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and expert interlocutors from Viet Nam, Thailand and Fiji.

Shaukat Abdulrazak, Jane Gerardo-Abaya and Luis Longoria Gandara, Directors of the IAEA Technical Cooperation Divisions for Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean, respectively, also participated to share examples of effective South-South cooperation in each region.

“Development and the peaceful application of nuclear technology to benefit the livelihoods of people has been one of the most valuable achievements of humankind. Yet, the awareness, understanding, knowledge and capacity to actually leverage this benefit – leaving no countries, no people behind – is still very level among developing countries: that’s where South-South and triangular cooperation can really be leveraged to help expand this benefit,” explained Deputy Director Wang during the side event.

Vichai Puripunyavanich, a nuclear scientist at the Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology (TINT), shared his perspective as a panellist at the IAEA side event, showcasing the benefits of nuclear science and technology for food security in Thailand. “There are three main radiation applications for agriculture at the Institute – plant breeding, fruit fly control through the Sterile Insect Technique and food irradiation,” said Puripunyavanich. “We collaborate with the IAEA and other countries through training courses and fellowships or symposiums and regional training courses, such as the latest one in Indonesia on mutation breeding.”

During the side event, Adnan Aliani of ESCAP stressed the importance of South-South cooperation for energy planning: “It is critical that support must be extended to countries in nuclear science and technology through South-South cooperation. As countries increasingly look to low-carbon options, increased South-South and triangular cooperation is needed to advance technology and applications, while also ensuring the highest level of operational safety standards in the deployment of nuclear technologies.”

Xiaojun Grace Wang, the Deputy Director for Programme and Operations at the UNOSSC, and Adnan Aliani, Director of Strategy and Programme Management at ESCAP, participated in the IAEA side event, alongside representatives from Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expert interlocutors from Viet Nam, Thailand and Fiji, and IAEA Directors.

The South-South Day also provided the occasion for the launch of the UNOSSC Good Practices in South-South and Triangular Cooperation for Sustainable Development Vol. 4, which includes five examples of IAEA good practices in the areas of food safety, cancer care, capacity building, industry and water management in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Open for three days, the IAEA’s exhibition booth at the GSSD Expo – staffed by experts from the Agency’s Department of Technical Cooperation and stocked with publications presenting the IAEA’s work in South-South cooperation – attracted the attention of many conference-goers, including the 300 young representatives participating in the YOUTH4SOUTH special event.

The IAEA actively participated in the regional Asia-Pacific Directors Forum and in the Global Directors Forum, which took place on 13 and 14 September, respectively. At the latter, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation Hua Liu stressed the crucial role that teamwork plays in South-South cooperation at the IAEA: “The IAEA works in close partnership with Member States, United Nations agencies, research organizations and civil society to maximize the contribution of nuclear science and technology to the achievement of development priorities, and thus, achieving development goals.”

As Director General Grossi remarked at the opening of the Expo, “some challenges simply can’t be solved alone.” In keeping with this ethos, IAEA staff participating in the GSSD Expo identified and leveraged opportunities presented by the event to engage with private sector, foundations, national development agencies, with the aim of continuing to enhance the support provided by the IAEA to its Member States via well anchored South-South mechanisms.

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