IAEA and ICBA sign Practical Arrangement in support of their soil, water, crop and nutrition activities
As a specialized agency of the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) provides authoritative information and guidance related to the secure and peaceful use of nuclear science. When agency activities intersect with other disciplines, however, the need to build partnerships and cooperate with other technical institutions becomes evident. For these reasons, the IAEA works in close partnership with other UN agencies, research organizations and civil society, with the aim of achieving strategic goals and expanding the peaceful application of nuclear technologies. A recently signed Practical Arrangement (PA) with the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) demonstrates the agency’s commitment to developing productive relationships with partner organizations. Based in Dubai, ICBA is a non-profit organization devoted to research and development in marginal, arid and semi-arid environments. These environments have sources of water, such as underground aquifers, but they are frequently brackish or saline. Traditionally, irrigation with salt water would lead to soil salinization, rendering the topsoil unfit for most kinds of crop cultivation. In studying the biochemical and physiological mechanisms of salt tolerance in plants, however, ICBA is developing methods to selectively breed plants for salt tolerance, control the ripening process, and increase desirable traits (such as sugar concentration in fruit). IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and Dr Ismahane Elouafi, Director General of ICBA, recently signed a Practical Arrangement, formalizing the already fruitful relationship between the two organizations. In addition to administrative and logistical affairs, the arrangement clearly identifies the thematic scope of the cooperation, which includes mutual support in the areas of desertification and land degradation, soil and water management, water use efficiency, and agricultural research. Moreover, the PA calls for an “exchange of data of mutual interest and relevance,” thereby facilitating the work conducted by the respective institutions. In connection with this Practical Arrangement, Kwaku Aning, Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation, met with H.E. Mr. Hamad Ali Alkaabi, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, which hosts the ICBA headquarters. Mr. Aning and Ambassador Alkaabi discussed the scope of cooperation elaborated by the PA, and how best to implement its terms and stipulations.