by Diana Rubin (Partnership and Resource Mobilization Section, IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation) & Amal Elrefaei, IAEA-WiN Global Liaison Officer

WiN-IAEA members observe ongoing experiments at the IAEA's Monaco laboratories.

Women in Nuclear IAEA (WiN IAEA) organized a visit to the IAEA Marine Environment Laboratories to learn more about IAEA efforts to support IAEA Member States (MSs) through services aimed at addressing impacts of human activities on ocean health. WiN IAEA was also given the opportunity to present its vision, mission and activities to the staff at the laboratories.

Highlighting how the IAEA Marine Environment Laboratories pursue state-of-the art research, Director Florence Descroix-Comanducci said, “The IAEA, through these well-equipped research facilities, provides the knowledge necessary for MSs to build their capacities to tackle environmental challenges.”

The scientific work conducted by the labs is key to positioning the IAEA as a provider of knowledge for political decision-making concerning climate change, ocean health, seafood safety and marine plastic pollution. These are important elements raising the Agency’s visibility and the unique role it plays under various IAEA flagship initiatives, including NUTEC plastics, which are crucial to engaging with potential donors and partners to advance collaboration in these areas. Research and capacity-building activities at the labs are also critical to successfully supporting MSs in their endeavours to address major marine challenges through technical cooperation (TC) projects or coordinated research projects (CRPs).

One of the many fascinating research activities conducted by colleagues in Monaco was a study on tracing the cycle of marine microplastics to determine whether these particles ingested by marine animals such as sharks can pass from a mother to an embryo.

While the trip broadened WiN understanding of the scientific research done in Monaco, it also provided an opportunity to expand upon the achievements and contributions of WiN within the IAEA for colleagues in Monaco who may have had less exposure to WiN initiatives. Additionally, Monaco’s proximity to France allowed for the participation of women affiliated with other WiN networks, including WiN France. Janette Donner, President of WiN IAEA Chapter, emphasized that: “WiN IAEA is supporting all women and men working at the IAEA, who believe that gender equality, diversity and inclusion is the right working culture for our organization”. She also highlighted the excellent cooperation with internal stakeholders on mentorship programmes, technical events, leadership and communication training as well as with external partners on outreach of IAEA activities and programmes.

Janette Donner, WiN-IAEA Chapter president, addresses members.

The visit included a roundtable discussion titled “Environment, Climate and Technologies: Women’s leadership” moderated by Aline Des Cloizeaux, WiN IAEA Vice President. The panel featured Brunella Pastorelli, Member of the board of Monaco Aid & Presence (MAP), Nathalie Hilmi, Section Head of Environmental Economics at the Monaco Scientific Center (CSM) and Lead Author at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Sarah Couture-Jones, Public Relations and Communication Officer at the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), Patricia Schindler, WiN France South East region President and WiN Europe Coordinator, in addition to Janette Donner, and Director Florence Descroix-Comanducci. The panellists stressed that women were often on the frontline with respect to the impact of climate change and played an important role in addressing this issue.

A final and no less valuable aspect of the visit was the networking opportunity among the WiN members; from exploring Monaco’s oceanographic museum and the surrounding streets to catch a glimpse of the Palais Princier, to strolling together on Nice’s Promenade des Anglais. All these activities fostered the core principles of WiN’s mission: empowering women, acting as role-models, enabling each other to advance professionally and encouraging the next generation of women to pursue careers in science and the nuclear sector. Following the success of the WiN trip to the Marine Environment Laboratories in Monaco, WiN IAEA is eager to organize another trip for its members soon; more information will be disseminated closer to the date. WiN IAEA looks forward to you joining us then.