Achieving the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires international organisations overcoming bureaucratic barriers and forging partnerships, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said yesterday. "Partnerships are both a moral imperative, but also a practical necessity," he said during a virtual panel discussion on Partnership for the Goals at the World Health Summit in Berlin.

Grossi participating in the panel discussion (Image: E Perez Alvan / IAEA)

In 2015, all UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These provide a universal set of goals, targets and indicators against which nations will be expected to frame policies over the next 15 years.

The panel brought together leaders representing Gavi (the global vaccine alliance), Save the Children, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Population Fund, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the IAEA, in a discussion that focused on ways of enhancing international cooperation toward the SDGs.

Grossi said there is a clear need for United Nations agencies, research organisations and civil society groups to organise more closely around common issues to take collective action toward achieving the goals.

"We have to do better in the forging and shaping of partnerships," he said. "We have to be more adaptive to partnerships that will look different. It is about bringing all possible forces to the table and offering products or vehicles that will do the job."

The IAEA says it contributes significantly to the achievement of the SDGs by promoting the peaceful use of nuclear science and technology to improve the well-being and prosperity of the people in its 172 Member States. This includes using nuclear and nuclear-derived techniques to help improve child nutrition, boost food production and manage water supplies; enhance the safety of food and water; mitigate climate change by producing clean and affordable energy; and improve access to radiation medicine and comprehensive cancer care. To effectively carry out this mandate the agency works with international partners through its technical cooperation programme.

Panellists shared concerns about the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic reversing advancements made towards achieving the SDGs. An IAEA survey carried out in April-May showed that the pandemic had disrupted key health services for diagnosing and treating conditions such as cancer and heart disease, particularly in low-income countries.

Grossi said that, even in pandemic situations, supporting countries to effectively address non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, continued to be a very important area of the IAEA's work.

"It is a scandal that, as we speak, half of the African continent does not have access to one radiotherapy unit," he said. "It is a scandal that 300,000 women die every year from cervical cancer - something that is detectable, treatable and curable. We have the tech, we have the means and we know what needs to be done. We are working with the WHO, civil society, UNAIDS and others to try to provide access to nuclear medicine to many more countries, and we are training oncologists, radiologists, medical physicists and specialists."

In June, the IAEA launched the ZODIAC initiative to strengthen global preparedness for future pandemics like COVID-19. The project builds on the IAEA's experience in assisting countries in the use of nuclear and nuclear-derived techniques for the rapid detection of pathogens that cause transboundary animal diseases, including ones that spread to humans. For its implementation, close collaboration with international and UN organisations such as the WHO, Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Organisation for Animal Health, is foreseen.

"We have to work hand-in-hand, use the power of diversity and accept that no one size fits all," Grossi said. "The IAEA is ready to do it."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Thursday, 29 October 2020
Original article: