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Statements, Topnews

28. November 2018

STATEMENT BY THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA DELIVERED BY DEPUTY MINISTER OF ENERGY,  AMB. THEMBISILE MAJOLA ON THE OCCASION OF THE IAEA MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE ON NUCLEAR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: ADDRESSING CURRENT AND EMERGING DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES, 28 NOVEMBER 2018, VIENNA

Co-Chairpersons

Ministers and Heads of Delegation

Director-General

Distinguished Delegates

On behalf of the Government of South Africa, I congratulate the Co-Chairs for their outstanding efforts in coordinating preparations for this ground-breaking Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Science and Technology. We hope that this Conference is the beginning of our high-level regular engagement on this important subject.

We would also like to commend Director General Amano and the Secretariat for providing the vital support necessary for the holding of this Conference.

Co-Chairs,

Today humanity is facing enormous challenges relating to, among others, climate change and environmental degradation; scarce water resources; food insecurity; access to affordable and reliable energy; as well as human and animal health. In many developing countries, these realities further add to the triple challenge of inequality, unemployment and poverty.

However, due to human ingenuity and inventiveness as expressed through scientific and technological advances, we are now better placed to find solutions to challenges which, many years ago, seemed intractable.

We are indeed greatly indebted to luminary nuclear scientists such as Enrico Fermi, Marie Curie and Otto Hahn whose pioneering work has enabled us to harness the power of the atom for human development.

Co-Chairs,

We thank the IAEA through its motto of Atoms for Peace and Development for providing a platform for making it possible for Member States to access relevant nuclear techniques and applications to diagnose and treat Cancer; control and eradicate Malaria; and fight the deadly Ebola and Zika viruses. Similarly, today our farmers are able to produce crops that are adaptable to changing climatic conditions. 

The IAEA is able to provide this support to Member States through its Nuclear Applications Laboratories in Austria and Monaco.  The cutting-edge research and development carried out at these world-class facilities, and delivered through technical cooperation, enables our scientists and experts to find solutions that assist in addressing challenges which threaten our livelihood. For example, the IAEA is able to assist Member States, through the VETLAB Network project to capacitate their national veterinary laboratories in order to better respond to animal and zoonotic diseases, which not only threaten animals but are also a danger to human beings.

It is for this reason that South Africa has supported the renovation and modernization of these Nuclear Applications laboratories through the ReNuAL project. We sincerely thank Member States who have contributed to the success and realization of ReNuAL.

As we advance towards the completion of the ReNuAL project, we would like to appeal to other Member States to also lend a hand of support by providing the requisite financial resources.

Co-Chairs,

Over the years, South Africa has made significant investments in developing its nuclear sector for peaceful purposes. At the core of this endeavour has been a focus on research and development, with the SAFARI-1 research reactor and iThemba LABS as the lodestars. Today, South Africa is one of the leading global manufacturers of medical isotopes, supplying Moly-99 for the diagnosis and treatment of Cancer. These facilities also have the added value of providing cross-disciplinary materials research in a wide variety of fields such as construction, manufacturing, transport, medicine, electronics and energy.

One of our medical facilities, Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria is the foremost medical institute on the African continent, in the treatment of Cancer. Equally a number of our universities continue to be centres of knowledge development and sharing.

We appreciate the support that the IAEA continues to provide in facilitating the training of many experts from the region in our institutions.

Co-Chairs,

More importantly, our efforts in utilizing nuclear science and technology towards human development will not be successful unless we locate at their core, women and youth. Therefore in the planning, monitoring and evaluation of our programmes, it is imperative that we embed appropriate indicators in order to measure progress in this area.

Co-Chairs,

In conclusion, we owe it to present and future generations that the work of the Agency in the areas of nuclear science and technology is strengthened, consolidated and adapts to the realities and challenges we face. It is also important that the Agency, with the support of Member States, through an adequately resourced Technical Cooperation Programme continues to live up to its motto: “Atoms for Peace and Development”, in shaping the new global development agenda.

I thank you.

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