Nuclear technology is essential to reach the Sustainable Development Goals
In depth - November 15, 2021

Nuclear technology is essential to reach the Sustainable Development Goals

Nuclear technology contributes to the efforts to eradicate hunger, improve health, give access to affordable and clean energy, generate jobs, foster economic development and mobilize climate actions. These points are listed in a report put together by CNA, FORATOM, JAIF, NEI, NIA and WNA, which highlights the contribution of nuclear power to the attainment of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (ODS) from the United Nations.

Nuclear technology is essential to reach the Sustainable Development Goals

Nuclear technology helps to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

The SDG that receive the most help and support from nuclear power are those related to health and well-being, affordable, non-polluting energy, dignified work and economic growth, industry, innovation and infrastructure, responsible production and consumption and actions to mitigate climate change, as can be seen on this infographic from Foro Nuclear.

Nuclear technology is essential to reach the Sustainable Development Goals

The report, however, shows that this technology can help to achieve the rest of the Sustainable Development Goals:

SDG 1- End of poverty

To eradicate poverty, encourage economic growth and cater to the global energy demand, we need a significant investment in nuclear power, a competitive energy source.

SDG 2 – Zero hunger

Nuclear techniques help to reduce insect plagues and develop crops, thanks to technologies such as insect sterilization or the development of new plant breeds that need less water and are more resistant to the impact of climate change.

SDG 4 – Quality education

Nuclear technology companies invest in training and education for their employees with an ongoing update of their knowledge and expertise.

SDG 5 – Gender equality

The nuclear industry is committed to improving the representation of women in the workforce, at all levels. Nuclear technology companies are taking initiatives to encourage young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and to provide training to prevent discrimination and fight against bias.

SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation

The desalination  of sea water via thermal processes generated by nuclear reactors provides clean water without the greenhouse effect emissions produced by the desalination units that use fossil fuels.

SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities

The cost of nuclear generation is less susceptible to price volatility than fossil fuel plants. With the price stability of nuclear energy, countries that greatly depend on external energy sources can have a greater control over their own energy systems.

SDG 11 - Sustainable cities and communities

Nuclear power helps cities and human settlements to become safer, more inclusive, resilient and sustainable. Over half of the world's population suffers the effects of pollution in cities produced by exhaust fumes from petrol or diesel vehicles and from heating boilers. Nuclear generation provides an important portion of the electricity that will be used to charge electric vehicles, and it can also be applied to district heating, avoiding pollution from fossil fuels.

SDG 14 - Life below water

Nuclear power helps to avoid the emissions that cause ocean acidification, by generating electricity without producing CO2. Nuclear techniques also help to monitor the health of aquatic ecosystems.

SDG 15 - Life on land

Nuclear power plants produce large amounts of clean electricity and occupy small land areas, which helps to preserve biodiversity. Nuclear and isotopic techniques make it easier to understand, strenghten and restore ecosystems.

Nuclear power plants produce large quantities of clean electricity and occupy small areas, which helps to preserve biodiversity

SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions

Signatories of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) agree to not pursue a nuclear weapons programme and to cooperate on the peaceful uses of nuclear technology. There are supranational organizations such as the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency and the OCDE Nuclear Energy Agency that watch out for the correct and safe use of nuclear technology.

SDG 17- Partnerships for the goals

To reach the SDG, nuclear organizations work together and cooperate with the stakeholders: governments, civil society, scientists, academics and the private sector. This way, skills and experience are combined to achieve these common goals.


This report is a joint cooperation from the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA), the European Nuclear Forum (FORATOM), the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF), the United States' Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the United Kingdom's Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), and the World Nuclear Association (WNA). The report can be accessed here.

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