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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has fostered exchange of information on research reactors for many years. Periodic meetings, seminars, symposia and conferences are important mechanisms for this exchange. The IAEA has organized major international conferences on topics of interest to the research reactor community every four years, with the last, held in 2015 in Vienna was titled International Conference on Research Reactors: Safe Management and Effective Utilization. Since the 1950s and continuing until today, hundreds of research reactors around the world have served society and functioned as cornerstones for nuclear science and technology development. In addition, a number of new research reactor programmes are being planned and developed. Feedback collected by the IAEA highlights the importance of ensuring the effectiveness and sustainability of research reactors. Main challenges facing the research reactor community include the need to ensure regulatory effectiveness, manage the ageing of the facilities and staff, and enhance utilization programmes and strategic planning. Leadership and management, spent fuel management, and the need to establish sustainable nuclear infrastructure for new research reactor programmes also pose challenges. This IAEA conference will address these challenges. Like its predecessors, it will play a vital role in national and international efforts to ensure that research reactors offer society as much benefit as possible, while placing a primary focus on the facilities’ effectiveness and sustainability.