UNECE provides pathways for nuclear energy to support sustainable development

12 March 2021

Nuclear energy can be a critical component of a decarbonised energy system for those member states that choose to consider it as part of their sustainable development and climate change strategy, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) says in a new report. The report shows how the utilisation of local or regional uranium resources can provide a platform for sustainable development.

The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (Image: UNECE)

The report - titled Application of the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources and the United Nations Resource Management System: Use of Nuclear Fuel Resources for Sustainable Development - Entry Pathways - was prepared by the UNECE's Expert Group on Resource Management (EGRM). The report was supported by experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency, the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and the World Nuclear Association.

Nuclear energy is an "indispensable tool" for achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs), the report says. It has a crucial role in providing affordable energy and climate change mitigation, as well as eliminating poverty, achieving zero hunger, providing clean water,  economic growth, and industry innovation. UNECE says there are many sustainable options for implementing a nuclear fuel cycle and waste management strategy. It notes that a range of nuclear reactor designs are currently available, based on mature and proven technologies, which offer high levels of safety and outstanding operating performance. In addition, a range of small modular reactor and advanced reactor designs are currently under development, with some ready for near-term deployment.

"For a nuclear programme to be successful, policy makers should prioritise: nuclear energy policy, electricity market design, international cooperation, regulatory harmonisation, nuclear skills and supply chain development, project structuring and management, public engagement, and building diversity and inclusivity," the report says.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News