IAEA Board of Governors Meeting: 13 June 2017
Statement by Dr Kath Smith, Alternate Resident Representative to the IAEA
Agenda Item: Technical Cooperation Report for 2016
Thank you, Chair.
Australia thanks the Director General for submitting the Technical Cooperation Report for 2016, along with its Supplement, to the Board. We also thank Deputy Director General Yang for his helpful introductory comments, and the Secretariat for the informative briefing on 19 May.
Australia continues to recognise and support the important role that the Agency’s Technical Cooperation Programme plays in assisting developing countries to benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology.
Before I address the report in detail, I would like to make some remarks on two relevant topics not directly addressed in the report.
First, Australia wants to congratulate the IAEA on the recent and hugely successful, International Conference on the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme. We would especially like to commend DG Amano’s oversight of the Conference, DDG Yang’s stewardship of the Conference and Director Najat Moktar for its seamless execution.
We note it was attended by two Heads of State, a Crown Princess, a Prime Minister, 10 Ministers and over 1200 participants. This certainly demonstrates the global support enjoyed by the Technical Cooperation Program.
The Conference had many functions and practical outcomes. It acted as a showcase in which many Member States expressed their appreciation for the how the TC Programme provided tangible outcomes directly targeted at their specific development needs. It continued the discussion about how to best link and “synergize” the TC Programme and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It also expanded the discussion on how to mobilise resources. In this context, Australia was pleased to see participation of non-traditional stakeholders such as development banks.
Like other delegations, Australia hopes this will be the first in a regular series of International Conferences on Technical Cooperation.
Secondly, [like others who have spoken before us] we would like to draw the attention of the Board to the fact that the revised 2017 “Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology for Asia and the Pacific” entered into force just yesterday, on 11 June.
The RCA was first established in 1972, making it the oldest IAEA TC regional agreement, and it is still going strong. Australia is proud to have been one of the first countries to present its instrument of accession for the extension of this important Agreement.
I will now move onto Australia’s response to the Technical Cooperation Report for 2016 and its Supplement. These documents contain a wealth of detailed information on the variety of activities undertaken through the Technical Cooperation Programme, and underscore their importance in assisting nations to meet their development goals. We also acknowledge the Programme’s valuable role in fostering regional and global networks to our common benefit.
The report and its Supplement arrive at a particularly opportune time as we aim to agree upon both the Regular Budget and Technical Cooperation Fund (TCF) targets for the 2018-2019 biennium. Like other Member States, we recognise that the success of the Technical Cooperation Programme requires sufficient, assured and predictable funding. To this end, Australia has consistently paid our assessed target share of the TCF in full and on-time. Recognising the voluntary nature of the Fund, we continue to believe this is the best way to provide certainty to the Programme.
We note that, at the end of 2016:
- the rate of attainment on pledges to the TCF in 2015 was 92.9% or only 92.0% if deferred or additional payments are excluded, and that these figures represent a drop of 2% compared to last year
- some States have not pledged or paid their Technical Cooperation Fund target share;
- only one of the eight States with Assessed Programme Costs arrears have paid their arrears; and
- National Participation Costs arrears have risen from around 290,000 Euros to around 810, 000 Euros.
Payment of all TCF target shares, Assessed Programme Costs and National Participation Costs, regardless of how small, is important to the effective operation of the Technical Cooperation Programme – and to demonstrate a Member State’s commitment to the Programme. We encourage all Member States to pay these contributions on time and in full.
Over the years, Australia has made a number of extra-budgetary contributions to the IAEA for its development programs under the Peaceful Uses Initiative. In 2016, we made a modest PUI contribution to support the development of a remote learning web-site for the Asian Network for Education and Nuclear Technology. We encourage other Member States in a position to do so to consider making PUI contributions.
In addition to our TCF target share, Australia also provides significant in-kind contributions to the TC Programme, by providing experts for Agency-related projects and missions, and hosting training programs, fellows and scientific visitors. For example, in March this year, Australia hosted two TC meetings: an Interregional Meeting on Partnerships and Resource Mobilisation for the Interregional Meeting Addressing Small Islands Developing States; and an RCA Project Coordination Meeting on Enhancing Regional Capabilities for Marine Radioactivity Monitoring and Assessment of the Potential Impact of Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Facilities in Asia-Pacific Marine Ecosystems.
We are currently in negotiations to hold other TC meetings in August and November this year.
Australia is pleased to see that the IAEA is engaging with stakeholders and peers, and participating in the global development dialogue. These days it is not enough to do good work, it is essential to deliberately build awareness and partnerships that can be leveraged to support future projects.
We agree with the Agency that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a common international framework that shapes discussion and policy, and we think it is very useful that the Agency now identifies which SDGs are supported by which TC projects. We encourage the IAEA to continue its efforts to partner with other development-driven organisations to assist Member States achieve their national development goals in accordance with Country Programme Frameworks.
The report shows that in Australia’s region, Asia and the Pacific, the highest percentages of ‘actuals’ for programme distribution were in the areas of ‘Health and Nutrition’, ‘Safety’ and ‘Food and Agriculture’. These themes are of great importance in enabling our region to continue to benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology in a safe and secure manner.
But an analysis of actuals - by Member State - again suggests that resources are not being equitably distributed to those with the greatest development need (I refer in particular to Supplement Tables B.3, B.4 and C.3). As we have stated previously, Australia’s view is that if possible Member States really should fund their own Technical Cooperation activities so that TCF resources can be utilised to benefit developing countries – particularly Least Developed Countries. We note this does not prevent participation by Member States in TC projects, but rather helps to ensure that resources go where they are most needed.
Australia is appreciative of the explicit reporting of women’s participation in TC in the Report and Supplement. And Australia is pleased to see that women constitute approximately 40% of the Director General’s Standing Advisory Group on Technical Assistance.
We note that women’s participation in TC varies greatly across the world. In most regions it is still well below that of men, but in Latin America women’s participation reaches levels of approximately 40%. We hope that we and the IAEA can draw lessons from Latin America’s practices.
Australia also notes that, according to the reported numbers, women’s participation in TC training activities is considerably higher than their participation as experts. Over time we anticipate this disparity will disappear.
In the broader context, Australia looks forward to seeing the granular reporting of the numbers of women in IAEA Departments - including the Department of TC - in the Personnel Report which will be provided to the September Board of Governor’s meeting.
With these comments, the Australian delegation takes note of the Technical Cooperation Report for 2016, and its Supplement and recommends their transmission to the General Conference.
Thank you, Chair.