IAEA Showcases SDG Support at UN High-Level Political Forum

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The IAEA participated in the 2023 United Nations High-Level Political Forum at UN Headquarters in New York from 10 – 19 July, emphasizing the critical contributions made by nuclear science and technology towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

We face an uncertain future at a time of converging water, energy and climate crises. We must work together to find viable solutions to address countries’ priorities, increase their resilience, and reduce global inequalities,” IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation Hua Liu said.

The IAEA is focused on helping countries to reach their SDGs targets, and the 2023 High-Level Political Forum featured in-depth reviews of five SDGs, including clean water and sanitation (SDG 6) and affordable and clean energy (SDG 7). The IAEA promotes the use of nuclear science and technology to create clean, reliable and affordable energy and the use of nuclear techniques, such as isotope hydrology, to increase water security.

This year marks the midpoint for the implementation of the 17 SDGs, interconnected goals intended to address the global challenges the world is facing, with the aim of achieving these goals by 2030. The forum is an opportunity to assess what has been achieved and what is needed, ahead of the upcoming SDG Summit at the UN General Assembly in September.

The IAEA participated in plenary sessions, hosted an exhibition and organized a side event that focused on improving access to clean water and energy through South-South and triangular cooperation.  The event provided a platform for Member States and UN organizations to engage in substantive and constructive discussions.

In her opening remarks, United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation Director Dima Al-Khatib underscored the importance of this approach. “South-South and triangular cooperation is proving itself as an innovative way of enhancing capacity and alleviating the challenges countries of the South are grappling with – be they water management, energy, digitalization, or poverty. South-South cooperation is an invaluable collaborative mechanism with impact at all levels,” she said.

Ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo of South Africa emphasized the importance of South-South cooperation in energy planning due to the high level of technical competency required. With the support of the IAEA, South Africa has hosted several sessions of the Nuclear Energy Management School, to help experts from African countries to build their knowledge and skills on the nuclear energy life cycle. 

At a jointly organized side event, the IAEA intervened on how the IAEA supports countries to improve access to clean water and energy. (Photo: M. Evans, IAEA) 

In her side event remarks, Director Cassie Flynn of UNDP’s Climate Hub, stated that “we cannot achieve the SDGs without energy – it powers schools, it powers hospitals. It is energy that is one of the levers by which we can achieve the Goals.”

Although access to clean energy has improved globally, 675 million people still lack access to electricity, and 2.3 billion people do not have access to safe fuel sources for cooking, according to the 2023 SDG Special Edition report. The IAEA assists countries in their attainment of the SDGs through its technical cooperation programme. Capacity building and transferring technology enables the generation of key scientific data that can be used by countries in decision making.

Intervening at a UNESCO side event on science-based water assessment, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation Hua Liu highlighted that “using a science-based assessment, scientists can provide policymakers with the information that is necessary to manage, protect and preserve water resources; making clean water available to everyone would be ground-breaking for sustainable development.”

Globally, 2.2 billion people still have no access to safe water and 3.5 billion lack sanitation services. Climate change and conflict have worsened water scarcity issues in some regions. The Permanent Representative of Tajikistan to the UN, Ambassador Jonibek Hikmat, described how Tajikistan is currently experiencing water security challenges that are being exacerbated by climate change. The IAEA has provided bespoke technical cooperation support to Tajikistan to assess groundwater resources in the Aral Sea basin, and a national project on glaciers has just begun.

Member States and UN partners, providing new insights and fostering awareness of science-based tools that could accelerate progress in key areas. On the margins of the High-Level Political Forum, the IAEA met with UN organizations to explore possibilities to enhance cooperation and leverage the contribution of nuclear technology to support countries’ attainment of the SDGs.

Source : IAEA