2021 marks the 40th anniversary of the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). On this occasion, the Heads of the two organizations reaffirm their commitment to continue working together in the development of international standards that will ensure nuclear technology provides its indispensable benefits to the world in a safe and secure manner.
Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the IAEA, said: “Although the IAEA and ISO are two quite different organizations, the very important work we do in the area of international standards is complementary. Forty years of successful collaboration is an achievement to celebrate. It is also a chance to look ahead to the work we will do together to ensure international standards remain fit for purpose and nuclear technologies continue to be used safely for everything from curing cancer to using nuclear energy that helps to mitigate and adapt to climate change.”
Sergio Mujica, Secretary-General of ISO, said: “As our understanding of the potential of atomic energy continues to grow, collaboration between our two organizations is needed more than ever. ln meeting these demands, and in transitioning away from a hydrocarbon economy, there is a clear case for the benefits of nuclear power in combination with renewable sources of energy. ln spreading this technology, the work of the IAEA and the role of international standards remain essential.”
The IAEA is the world's centre for cooperation in the nuclear field. Its work includes the establishment or adoption of safety standards for protecting people and the environment from harmful effects of ionizing radiation. ISO is an independent, non-governmental international organization with a membership of 165 national standards bodies. Through its members, it brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market-relevant international standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.
The MoU signed by the IAEA and ISO in 1981 sets out guidelines for their cooperation and regular consultation on matters of common interest, allowing the two organizations to meet their respective statutory objectives.
ISO experts who serve on the IAEA's Safety Standards Committees contribute to the development and review of IAEA safety standards on nuclear safety, waste safety, radiation safety, transport safety and emergency preparedness and response. Similarly, IAEA experts participate in ISO technical committees that cover topics such as nuclear energy, quality management, and air and water quality. Recently IAEA experts have contributed to the development of ISO standards for the nuclear supply chain and for radium in drinking water.
The MoU has stood the test of time as a robust, flexible and adaptive framework for cooperation. For more than four decades, it has supported the collaborative development of international standards in dozens of topical areas.
Looking to the future, the IAEA and ISO will build on their existing cooperation to develop standards for emerging technologies and new topics. They will also ensure that the standards developed by each organization are widely cross-referenced and allow global users to apply them consistently. Together, the IAEA and ISO renew their commitment to continue developing internationally agreed standards that are high quality, fit for purpose and user friendly, thereby protecting both people and the environment. This mutual commitment will create a conducive framework for countries to harness the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear technology in meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.