Panel Discussion on the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Program

IAEA Technical Cooperation Conference
Session 4 Panel Discussion
June 1, 2017

Remarks by Andrew Schofer, Chargé d’affaires a.i.,
U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna

Question:  In 1958, at the first IAEA General Conference, the USA made an important contribution to support fellowship training and the fielding of experts to developing countries–to the first ever TC program, in fact.  Sixty years on, the US remains a very important IAEA partner.  How do you see this decades-long partnership?  What would you hope to achieve in future partnership with the IAEA?

Chargé d’Affaires Andrew Schofer: Ladies and gentlemen, it is my special pleasure to participate in this panel representing the United States.  As you know, the United States has played a unique and important role in Technical Cooperation for the last 60 years, continues to do so now, and will hopefully continue into the future.

In 1953 President Dwight D. Eisenhower helped lay the groundwork for the IAEA in his UN General Assembly “Atoms for Peace” speech. In the speech, he shared a vision of the peaceful uses of the atom contributing to a bountiful world.  Ever since then, the United States has been a leader in supporting that vision by facilitating worldwide access to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, consistent with the highest standards of safety, security, and nonproliferation. This conference represents an important milestone in continuing that legacy, and we applaud the IAEA, and especially the Department of Technical Cooperation, for organizing and hosting it.

As we said during the recent Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee (NPT PrepCom) meeting a few weeks ago here in Vienna, the United States remains fully committed to playing its role in facilitating access to the peaceful uses of nuclear technology by NPT States Parties. Successful promotion of peaceful uses goes hand-in-hand with strong support for nuclear safety, security, and safeguards programs. In this regard, our partnership with the IAEA is absolutely essential. As the result of our shared efforts, the world is undeniably realizing the promise of the atom.

But we know that more work lies ahead. Demand for clean energy, food, potable water, and health care has grown immensely since 1958, when the United States helped develop the first TC program, and far too many people still lack access to what many of us in this room take for granted. Clearly, peaceful uses of nuclear energy and related applications have a vital role to play in facilitating sustainable global development.

The United States is proud to be the largest single contributor to the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Fund (TCF). We have contributed well over $151 million since 2010.  In addition to our voluntary contributions to the TCF, the United States has provided over $72 million to the Peaceful Uses Initiative (PUI) since we helped establish it in 2010.  At the recent NPT PrepCom here in Vienna, we reaffirmed our $50 million pledge to the PUI for 2015 to 2020 and reported that we are well on our way to making good on that pledge. Taken together, our extra-budgetary contributions to the IAEA to promote peaceful nuclear applications have totaled over $270 million just since 2010.  We also provide extensive in-kind support to the Technical Cooperation Program, which is another valuable facet of our partnership. I would invite all of you to visit our U.S. exhibit booth, which is just outside this hall, to learn more about these specific programs and our contributions.

The IAEA’s expertise is based in part on the human and physical infrastructure of the Nuclear Sciences and Applications Department. We welcome the Director General’s continued leadership to renovate and modernize the Nuclear Applications laboratories located in Seibersdorf. So far, we have donated approximately €10 million towards this important project, including our most recent donation that was announced at the PrepCom, and I would like to echo the remarks made on Tuesday by the Chair of the Board of Governors, Ambassador Seokolo, who encouraged other Member States to make contributions that will allow us to complete the renovations and realize the full potential of these laboratories and to do so in a timeframe that allows us to make the most of these efficiencies. ReNuAL+ is an excellent example of how IAEA Member States can work together to accomplish big goals. This project deserves and needs our tangible support right now.

Looking to the future, I believe we must seek new synergies and think “out of the box” about partnerships, including partnerships that leverage the expertise of other UN organizations; partnerships that bring in private sector expertise and investment; and those that marry the comparative advantages of both public and non-governmental institutions to advance shared development objectives. In practical terms, this means going beyond state contributions, to seek out creative collaborations with non-state donors, such as foundations, universities, and corporations.  Like many UN-related organizations, the IAEA is a product of the Cold War. The IAEA is already taking steps to modernize and adapt to the changes in the current era, including by establishing cooperative initiatives such as the Program of Action for Cancer Therapy, and we applaud these initiatives.  But we know there are more ways we can work together to support peace and development.  Let me briefly list – as food for thought – a few broad ideas the Agency might consider as we partner in preparing for the third decade of this 21st century.

    • First: Cultivate a wide-ranging strategy for pursuing non-state donors. A successful strategy will invite and receive non-state donor contributions with a minimum of legal and bureaucratic fuss.  The strategy would also seek out and identify private sector actors that can best partner with the Agency in technical cooperation and nuclear applications activities.  We welcome the recent creation of the IAEA’s Partnership and Resource Mobilization Coordination Committee, and urge its members to take a forward-leaning approach to exploring non-traditional funding sources.
    • Second: The IAEA should consider building a “Peaceful Uses” Brand. The IAEA needs to build an instantly recognizable “development brand,” in marketing terms Adding the words “and Development” to the end of the “Atoms for Peace” motto was a good beginning, and we commend DDG Amano for highlighting these aspects of the IAEA’s work, but more can be done. There must be proactive outreach and “marketing” aimed at rising leaders.  The IAEA has taken the first step by engaging the public on social media.  I encourage the IAEA to seize additional opportunities to highlight linkages between current events and the IAEA’s work, so more and more people can learn about its important contributions to development around the world.
    • Third: Build donor confidence through meaningful and measurable metrics for TC project management. Meaningful metrics, as well as a public embrace by the TC Department of the principles embodied in “SMART” management (which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) will do much to attract and retain donors.
    • Fourth: Work closely with other UN bodies, intergovernmental organizations, and professional associations to identify best practices and avoid needless redundancy and waste. Multi-agency partnerships can support progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.  The current collaboration between the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a good example of this approach.  A more recent example is the agreement a few weeks ago between the Agency and the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology to work together to improve medical care for patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases worldwide.
    • Finally, and most importantly – senior leadership buy-in and commitment is absolutely essential. An aggressive, infectious, and venturesome entrepreneurial spirit that eliminates “stove-piping” and encourages intra-Agency collaboration will be needed from all of the DDGs and other senior officials.  Technical cooperation is cross-cutting and our approach to it must be as well. A “One House” approach is necessary. We know that the DG’s office is engaged on this and I strongly encourage continued pursuit of this goal.

I hope you will find these ideas useful as catalysts for thinking and strategic planning. Once again, we applaud the IAEA for organizing and hosting this very important conference.

Thank you very much.