• Murhaf Radi, Europe Editor

Fight against COVID-19 to take centre stage at IAEA General Conference

VIENNA -- The IAEA General Conference, the Agency’s annual meeting and main governance event, will take place Monday at the Vienna International Centre 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.

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.

Many of the IAEA’s 171 Member States will be represented at the meeting, from 21st to 25th 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.

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.

A two-day Scientific Forum titled "Nuclear Power and the Clean Energy Transition" 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.

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

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