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International Atomic Energy Agency

Social and Economic Impact Assessments for International Atomic Energy Agency

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the United Nations forum for scientific and technical cooperation in the nuclear field.

The IAEA works for the safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology, to help achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other development priorities (“Atoms for Peace”). In the Asia-Pacific region, the IAEA supports 22 countries participating in the Regional Collaborative Agreement (RCA) for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology, a collaboration reaching its 50th anniversary in 2022. 

To assess the social and economic impacts of the RCA, the IAEA adopted the Value for Investment approach and the Kinnect Group approach to evaluation rubrics  – combining evidence from quantitative, qualitative and economic analysis, through the lens of an agreed performance framework. A series of case studies were undertaken to assess the social and economic value of a range of nuclear science and technology collaborations. 

The first case study assessed the social and economic value of plant mutation breeding projects. Mutation breeding involves exposing plant seeds, cuttings or tissue-culture material to radiation, such as gamma rays, and then planting the seed or cultivating the irradiated material to generate a plantlet. Plants are then multiplied and examined for new and useful traits – such as increased crop yields, improved nutritional quality, and reduced need for pesticide, fertilisers and irrigation. 

The assessment found that the RCA has supported a significant body of mutation breeding research, the impacts of which include increased food production, enhanced environmental protection, strengthened regional capacity and capability in mutation breeding, and economic impacts. 

Download the report: 
King, J., McKegg, K., Arau, A., Schiff, A., Garcia Aisa, M. (2020). Social and Economic Impact Assessment of Mutation Breeding in Crops of the RCA Programme in Asia and the Pacific. International Atomic Energy Agency. 

We completed two further impact assessments, looking at radiotherapy and non-destructive testing.