Office for Nuclear Regulation

International conference prepares ONR for future challenges

21 February, 2023

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) last week attended a four-day international conference focusing on maintaining effective nuclear and radiation regulatory systems.

Mark Foy, ONR’s Chief Executive and Chief Nuclear Inspector, was a key participant at the conference held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), which considered the overall topic of ‘preparing for the future in a rapidly changing environment.’

Organised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), this is the sixth in a series of conferences on this subject. Previous meetings have been held in the Haig, Netherlands in 2019, Vienna, Austria in 2016, Ottawa, Canada, in 2013, Cape Town, South Africa, in 2009, and Moscow, the Russian Federation, in 2006.

Last week’s conference, hosted by the UAE Government, aimed to build on the progress of past gatherings and discuss issues of importance to the international regulatory community, with the common goal of the global maintenance of high standards of nuclear safety and security.

Conversations at the event reflected back to outcomes of past conferences from the series including the ‘Decade of Progress after Fukushima-Daiichi’, in November 2021, and the ‘Safe and Secure Transport of Nuclear and Radioactive Materials’, held a month later.

Other topics addressed were Advanced Nuclear Technologies, including developing common regulatory and industrial approaches to Small Modular Reactors, plus  the fostering of increasing worldwide regulatory harmonisation and international and regional cooperation.

Mark gave his own presentation entitled ‘Establishing trust as a regulator’ during the session on ‘Trusted Regulator: Cooperative Techniques to Promote Credibility and Resilience’. He was joined by fellow speakers from the Korean Institute of Nuclear Safety, the Mauritius Radiation Safety and Nuclear Security Authority, Ghana’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority and Belarus’ Department for Nuclear and Radiation Safety of the Ministry for Emergency Situations.

Mark also chaired a panel session entitled ‘Leadership through New and Emerging Challenges’. The session included subjects such as the regulatory implications of the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to business continuity and how regulatory programmes must keep ahead of rapidly changing threats like cyber security, unmanned aerial vehicles and during times of economic uncertainty or civil unrest.

Mark said: “It was a privilege to be asked to contribute to the event and a great opportunity to hear what fellow national regulators are doing to prepare themselves to meet the future challenges.

“I was encouraged by the common themes emerging from the event including leadership, trust, organisational readiness, capacity building and collaboration.

“It is important that we respond to the call for action that will be set out in the conference president’s report  to ensure that as regulators we are ready and fit for the future.”