Ladies and gentlemen, to our many members here and visitors here today, I offer a warm welcome to an annual event that has become an important tradition in the nuclear world.
Last week I sent members an update on the WNA's progress as we work to build a truly global nuclear association. Let me just touch on some highlights.
On recruitment, we have strong momentum. Starting early last year with 62 members in 16 countries, we have crossed the threshold of having 100 members in 30 countries.
Meanwhile, the Secretariat has continued to improve the WNA website in our effort to provide the world's best source of information on the global nuclear industry. In Malmo in May, the DG reported a level of 3,000 hits a day. That level is now 4,000 hits a day.
A new feature of the website is a "Decommissioning Database" that is a unique product of the WNA. This database emerged from our working group on the decommissioning of nuclear facilities and is a good example of the application of the product of our several working groups.
Over the past two days I have attended several of our working group meetings and observe that they continue to probe issues such as transportation, supply and demand, and nuclear fuel. The work product will help us prepare accurate and timely arguments for the use of nuclear energy.
As with all of the WNA endeavours, I know the DG is keenly interested in receiving your feedback on working groups and website content.
Meanwhile, we have carried into reality the idea of creating a high-level WNA Council of Advisers - consisting of top industry leaders and former Board Chairmen - to advise and support both the DG and the Board.
This body is co-chaired by IAEA Director General-Emeritus Hans Blix and WANO Chairman-Emeritus Zack Pate.
The Council will have the effect of providing a kind of ongoing "global nuclear summit" among industry leaders.
Among the council members are the leaders or top nuclear personnel in such major corporations as Areva, BNFL, USEC, EdF, Exelon, TEPCO and such major organizations as WANO and the NEI. I perhaps also should have mentioned Cameco.
We are reaching high in the industry - and also wide. Council members include leaders from such key developing and transitional countries as India, Russia, Brazil, and South Africa - and we intend that key Chinese leaders will soon be included.
One of the Council's purposes will be to help "complete the mosaic" as we continue recruiting with the ultimate aim of building a WNA membership that truly encompasses the entire global nuclear industry.
The nuclear industry had two great victories in recent months. In America, Joe Colvin and the NEI worked hard to achieve the historic victory at Yucca Mountain. And, as I reported to members this week, the WNA did its best to help our partners in Finland in the run-up to what proved to be a highly significant parliamentary victory for nuclear new-build in the European Union.
I also reported on the WNA efforts - including our educational advertisement in the International Herald Tribune - in connection with the World Summit on Sustainable Development, now occurring in Johannesburg.
In preparation for that Summit and for future UN meetings on climate change, our WNA Strategy Group on Sustainable Development has been serving as a coordinator for representatives from companies and associations.
We believe that the current Summit will be neutral on the issue of nuclear. This is not a fully rational outcome in light of nuclear power's importance as a clean-energy technology. But it does achieve our primary objective of blunting those who might seek to achieve the perverse result of stigmatising nuclear energy in a Summit on sustainable development.
Meanwhile, we are using the Summit as a further educational opportunity. Working with the World Business Council on Sustainable Development and with our friends at the Eskom utility, we are distributing some 5,000 of our new mini-CD's containing the WNA AutoEssay in 20 languages.
After incorporating feedback on the CD's content and usability, we will produce a second edition mini-CD for distribution in October at the next UN climate meeting, to be held in New Delhi. Copies are available here at the WNA stand, and your feedback will be welcomed for the New Delhi edition.
Looking ahead, we have a number of projects in the works. The WNA will be working closely with WANO, with the IAEA, with the ICRP, with partner associations, and with member companies on a full agenda of activities designed to support and strengthen this industry for the important and growing world role that awaits us.
Among these activities is our effort to ensure adequate industry representation in the deliberations and advice received by the International Radiological Protection Commission, whose decisions and recommendations can have enormous impact on this industry.
Another, in which Zack Pate will play an important role, is our effort to engage with WANO and the IAEA to ensure timely, effective and consistent public communications in the event of a nuclear incident - and also to ensure that the INES scale does not necessitate excessively alarmist characterizations of events that pose no threat to people or the environment.
These are but examples. We have other projects under way, and will have still more - as events unfold and as we respond to the concerns and needs of our membership.
All in all, as I reported to members last week, I believe our organisation is continuing to advance in accord with the high expectations you have for it, and I look forward to continuing to work with many of you toward that objective.
Before turning to the introduction of our first speaker, I believe it important that I comment on events in Japan, what they signify and how they relate to the World Nuclear Association.
As we all recognize, significant events in our industry anywhere affect our industry everywhere. This is true on the positive side, as illustrated by the decisions I mentioned earlier - on Yucca Mountain in America and new-build in Finland. And spillover effects occur with comparable force on the negative side. Current developments in Japan - what the facts are and how they are portrayed - will have implications for all of us in the global nuclear industry.
Because the investigation in Japan is under way, no one should prejudge. But this much can be said:
This industry has an exemplary record of safety worldwide. And it has built, in recent years, an exemplary global safety culture. Our commitment to that safety culture - and to the laws, regulations, and institutions that comprise it - is embodied in the WNA Charter of Ethics, which appears prominently on our website and is integral to the purpose and philosophy of our association.
The essence of a safety culture is learning from past mistakes, resolving not to repeat them, and acting in accord with that resolve. I trust and expect that this incident will be resolved in accord with the tenets of our Charter of Ethics.
As Chairman of the WNA, I am proud of this industry, I am proud of our Japanese membership, and I am fully confident that our Japanese colleagues will take all necessary steps to fulfil their responsibilities to the Japanese people and to the global industry of which they are a part.
Let me now turn to the pleasant task of introducing our first speaker.
Our session this morning on nuclear energy and sustainable development could not have a more appropriate keynoter than Anil Kakodkar, who heads the nuclear power programme of what will soon be the world's largest country.
As such - and as a developing country endowed with both coal supplies and nuclear technology - India will make decisions in the years just ahead that will have a profound impact not only on the environment of the Indian populace but also on the entire global climate. India needs nuclear power on a large scale, and the world needs India to have nuclear power on a large scale.
Anil Kakodkar is a distinguished scientist, a distinguished leader in his country, and - I am pleased to say - a distinguished member of the WNA's new Council of Advisors.
Anil, we are delighted to have you here today. We look forward to your remarks.
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