IAEA Director General in Portugal: nuclear cooperation and saving the ocean

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi spoke at the UN Ocean Conference interactive dialogue on minimizing and addressing ocean acidification, deoxygenation and ocean warming. (Photo: D. Candano/IAEA)

Addressing ocean challenges at the UN conference

Mr Grossi joined international experts, ministers, scientists and global leaders at the UN Ocean Conference, and on Wednesday took part in the Conference’s interactive dialogue on minimizing and addressing ocean acidification, deoxygenation and ocean warming.

“Oceans are at the forefront of climate change: they absorb 30 per cent of CO2 emissions, and the impact that’s having on oceans’ health is evident,” Mr Grossi said. “We must act to save our oceans, and nuclear can help.” He explained how the IAEA’s laboratories in Monaco continue to be at the centre of global marine environment research, using nuclear techniques to study ocean acidification and, through the IAEA’s NUTEC Plastics initiative, helping countries address marine plastic pollution.

“We cannot solve the climate issue without solving the ocean issue, and we cannot solve the ocean issue without solving the climate issue,” said John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and a co-chair of the dialogue. “This includes tackling issues like ocean acidification, warming and deoxygenation.” Mr Kerry said that the world needs to move away from coal and gas to cleaner energy sources on a wider, more global scale.

Fellow co-chair Matthew Samuda, Jamaica’s Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, said that in addressing ocean challenges there is a cooperation gap: “Greater partnerships are needed not just between countries but also other stakeholder groups. We must bring everyone on board. The UN system plays an indispensable role in the collection and dissemination of data,” he said.

Stephen Widdicombe, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Science at Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) moderated the dialogue. He thanked the IAEA for its efforts in ocean acidification, particularly the Agency’s support to the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON), which Mr Widdicombe co-chairs. GOA-ON is an integrated, international research effort closely linked to, and supported by, the IAEA’s Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC) — a platform from which the IAEA organizes training courses; provides access to data and resources to advance ocean acidification research; promotes the development of data portals, standardized methodology and best practices, and raises awareness on the role nuclear and isotopic techniques can play in assessing ocean acidification impacts.

Michael Amdi Madsen, IAEA, 29 June 2022. Full article.

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