Mr. W. Burkart
Deputy Director General

at the
World Summit on Sustainable Development

Johannesburg, South Africa
30 August 2002

     Mr. President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

          Peace and sustainable development are indivisible and mutually reinforcing. The International Atomic Energy Agency is a unique organization in the UN System contributing towards both peace and sustainable development.

          The Agency is often recognized for its role in nuclear safety and power, and in the verification of international safeguards agreements, but lesser known is its major contribution to the aims of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, through its programmes in food and agriculture, human health, water resources and protection of the environment.

          Throughout history, science and technology has been a powerful tool for human development and poverty reduction. Nuclear technology, based on the most significant developments in physics in the 20th century, is a science-based technology par excellence. Nuclear sciences and their applications provide cost effective, and often unique solutions to satisfy basic human needs.

          I would like to highlight some of the more important contributions made by the Agency since its inception 45 years ago in the areas of food and agriculture, human health, freshwater, and environment.

          In food and agriculture, the Agency works closely with the Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO. A Joint FAO / IAEA Division is located in the Agency's headquarters in Vienna, supported by an Agriculture and Biotechnology laboratory at the Agency's Seibersdorf laboratories. Many countries have benefited from applying nuclear techniques to improve water and nutrient use by plants; for breeding crops with higher yields, for improving the feeding of livestock; for effective diagnosing and controlling livestock diseases, and in treating food to improve its safety and maintain its quality.

          The Sterile Insect Technique, SIT, has been successfully used by countries to control insect pests that adversely affect crops and livestock, including screwworms, fruit flies, moth pests and tsetse flies. As a result of SIT programmes screwworm has been eradicated from all of North and Central America; tsetse flies were recently eradicated from Zanzibar island; and Chile, Mexico and the USA are maintained free of the Mediterranean fruit fly.

          Tsetse flies affect 37 African countries and are one of the greatest constraints to Africa's socio-economic development. The Agency is working closely with the African Union's Pan African Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Programme, PATTEC, and with FAO and WHO to create tsetse free zones. The Agency's special side event here at the World Summit is on SIT and the benefits it can bring to some of the most vulnerable people. SIT against malaria-transmitting mosquitoes shows some promise, but will need considerable research. The Agency has already embarked on this.

          Nuclear medicine techniques have proved valuable in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, liver and thyroid cancers as well as infectious and childhood diseases. Working with WHO, the Agency has assisted in the transfer of molecular isotope-based test procedures to Member States for the timely detection of drug resistant malaria. Yet another achievement of the Agency is the introduction of large-scale radiotherapy services for cancer treatment in developing countries.

          Access to safe and affordable freshwater is vital for health, food production and development. One of the goals of the Millennium Declaration is "to stop the unsustainable exploitation of water resources ". This requires a much-improved scientific knowledge base on water resources and strengthened human capacity to apply the knowledge. The Agency leads in the field of isotope hydrology, a technique that assists countries to assess and track the origin, renewal and pollution of freshwater resources, and to improve or develop resource management strategies.

          Quality of life is dependent on the quality of the environment, both terrestrial and marine. The Agency's Marine Environment Laboratory works with a number of organizations around the world to monitor pollution of the oceans, which affects both environment and food supplies. Nuclear and isotopic techniques are helping in a major way to solve the water, health, food and pollution problems in the management of coastal zones, which are inhabited by over 2.2 billion people.

          Transfer of technology and capacity building are other major areas of priority for the Agency. It has several mechanisms for this, acting as a forum for major conferences, technical meetings, and conducting research by bringing together scientists from developed and developing countries.
The Agency's main vehicle for assisting its Member States is its technical cooperation programme. Over 800 Agency projects, valued at nearly $400 million, have supported priorities in the fields of food, agriculture, health, water and the environment, and in other fields of sustainable development since 1992, in addition to the Agency's extensive activities to build up capacities, particularly in developing countries, for overall energy planning for sustainable development.

          Partnership is the basic approach followed by the Agency in all its activities, through many regional projects, research programmes and promotion of networks of excellence. In the context of this summit, the Agency has already initiated a number of specific and new partnership proposals in the areas of environment, freshwater, and energy.

          As we join with other partners here in Johannesburg, both longstanding and new, the International Atomic Energy Agency rededicates itself to its twin goals of peace and sustainable development.