World Nuclear Association appoints new Director General

15 September 2020

World Nuclear Association announces that Agneta Rising, Director General since January 2013, will be stepping down from her position at the end of October to move to new endeavours. Dr Sama Bilbao y León, currently the Head of the Division of Nuclear Technology Development and Economics at OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, has been appointed as the next Director General by the World Nuclear Association Board of Management.

Sama brings a very diverse professional experience, having worked in the nuclear industry, in academia, and in international organizations, including the IAEA. Her background is in Nuclear Engineering, and she is well versed in all topics relating to nuclear energy including nuclear safety, energy and environmental policy, electricity markets and economics. Her extensive experience working in international environments makes her particularly suited for this role.

Agneta Rising said:  

It has been an immense privilege for me to lead the Association, and I am confident that it is in a great place to continue its essential work. The Association has achieved the highest recognition from other global, intergovernmental and governmental organizations, and with the Harmony goal, we now have a joint vision for the global industry to move ahead with full speed.

Philippe Knoche, Chairman of the World Nuclear Association and CEO of Orano, said:

All our grateful thanks to Agneta for these eight years of diligent leadership in challenging times. Her energy and direct relationships generated strong influence and recognition for our industry. Her work is a solid rock to build on.

Following her appointment, Dr Bilbao y León said:

I am honoured and delighted to have been given the opportunity to lead World Nuclear Association. Agneta leaves some very big shoes to fill, and I will do my best to do so. I look forward to working together with the Association’s members, the Board and the Secretariat to continue making the case for nuclear energy as a clean, reliable, cost-effective and low-carbon energy source.

Agneta Rising will be the Director General until the end of October, which will include a handover period with her successor. Sama Bilbao y León will be Director General in Waiting from 5 October.



Notes to the Editor:

World Nuclear Association is the international organisation that represents the global nuclear industry. Its mission is to promote a wider understanding of nuclear energy among key international influencers by producing authoritative information, developing common industry positions, and contributing to the energy debate, as well as to pave the way for expanding nuclear business.


Agneta Rising became Director General of World Nuclear Association on 1 January 2013, having previously held the position of Vice President Environment at Vattenfall AB. In this post Ms Rising headed a pan-European department focused on energy, environment and sustainability. Previously, Ms Rising was Director for Nuclear Business Development at Vattenfall Generation. Agneta Rising became chairman of the Uranium Institute in May 2000, and presided over its transformation into the World Nuclear Association in 2001. Ms Rising is also co-founder and former president of Women in Nuclear (WIN). Ms Rising has also been president of the European Nuclear Society and president of the Swedish Nuclear Society.

Sama Bilbao y León is the outgoing Head of the Division of Nuclear Technology Development and Economics at OECD Nuclear Energy Agency. Sama has a very diverse professional experience having worked in the nuclear industry (Nuclear Safety Analysis Engineer, Dominion Energy, USA), in academia (Director of Nuclear Engineering Programs and Associate Professor at the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), USA) and in international organizations (Technical Head of Water Cooled Reactors Technology Development Unit, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)). Sama, who is originally from Spain, holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in Energy Technologies from the Polytechnic University of Madrid; a master's degree and a PhD in Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison; and an MBA from Averett University. Sama’s areas of expertise are nuclear thermal‐hydraulics for both light water reactors and sodium cooled reactors, nuclear reactor design, nuclear safety, energy and environmental policy, and complex decision making.

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