yukiya amano, director general of the international atomic energy agency (iaea), has called for an enhancement of public awareness of the benefits brought about by nuclear science, technology and their applications.
amano said, "developing countries are especially interested in how the agency can help them to grow more food, treat cancer, manage water supplies, protect the oceans and monitor climate change. however, i find that such awareness is often limited to the nuclear community - the scientists, engineers and doctors working in the field. at national level, there is often a lack of awareness of the major contribution nuclear science and technology make to development. as a result, the full potential of peaceful nuclear science and technology is not being realised."
he added, "i therefore believe it is time to mainstream the use of peaceful nuclear technology at the highest level. that means raising public awareness about nuclear technology, incorporating it explicitly into national development plans, and stressing its importance to aid agencies and donors."
amano was speaking at the opening of the iaea ministerial conference on nuclear science and technology: addressing current and emerging development challenges in vienna yesterday. he noted the event is the first conference of its kind to be held at ministerial level.
the event - running from 28-30 november - has brought together over 1000 participants from more than 135 iaea member states.
the iaea said techniques discussed at the three-day conference include, among others, advances in nuclear and radiation medicine, industrial applications, ways to better monitor ocean acidification and techniques to adapt to and mitigate the impact of climate change. the conference is also reviewing means to boost education and training in nuclear sciences, with a particular focus on women.
on the first day of the conference, a declaration highlighting the growing importance of nuclear science and technology was adopted by over 60 ministers and other high-level government representatives. the document notes the contribution peaceful uses of these techniques can make in energy generation, industry, food and agriculture, human health and natural resources management.
the declaration states: "we recognise the important role of science, technology and innovation in addressing the current challenges and meeting the common goals of achieving sustainable development and protecting the environment in the context of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development."
it adds, "we acknowledge the contribution of, and potential for the applications of nuclear science and technology to meet a wide variety of basic socio-economic and human development needs; we recognise the progress made in all member states in addressing such development needs and the benefits achieved from the application of nuclear techniques in both developing and developed states; and we underscore the growing need and demand for further utilisation of nuclear applications worldwide."