The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) conducted a 7-day Course on Science Diplomacy from 16 to 24 February 2021 as a synchronous online course using Zoom. In this introductory course,  FSI welcomed 33 course participants, five (5) of them were from the Philippine Space Agency and the rest from various Philippine Foreign Service Posts and the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA’s) Consular Offices and the Home Office.

The Course was designed to introduce the unique roles and interrelatedness of science and diplomacy and their link to advancing Philippine national priorities and achieving global scientific development efforts. The Course elaborated on key successes and learnings drawn from both diplomats and scientists in doing inter-agency policy work as Philippine delegates in negotiations and/or defended Philippine positions in related issues in science, technology, and innovation at the multilateral level.

It gathered experts–both scientists and diplomats–who shared their in-depth experiences and perspectives on a number of transborder issues, such as marine biodiversity, climate crisis, global health pandemic, space science, and  nuclear science.  Panel presenters included Acting Assistant Secretary Jesusa Susana V. Paez of the DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and International Economic Relations (OUMAIER) and Assistant Secretary Dr. Leah J. Buendia of the Department of Science and Technology’s International Cooperation. They discussed the basic definition and three-part framework of Science Diplomacy: diplomacy for science,  science for diplomacy, and science in diplomacy.

The closing panel included Charge d’Affaires Deena Joy D. Amatong of the Philippines’ Permanent Mission at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria. She highlighted the peaceful use of nuclear energy and how diplomats work to seek more opportunities for the capacity building of Filipino scientists.   Dr. Carlo A. Arcilla, Director of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) and a balik-scientist program advocate, amplified the peaceful use of nuclear energy by discussing PNRI’s projects, such as cancer diagnosis through nuclear medicine and innovative nuclear applications in agriculture.

Both DFA and DOST representatives reaffirmed their commitment to continue engaging and strengthening their partnership  in science, technology, and innovation (STI) through enhanced bilateral and multilateral collaboration.

Dr. Marichu C. Liwanag, the head of FSI’s  Carlos P. Romulo School of Diplomacy, also confirmed the Institute’s contribution to continually provide platforms to create meaningful dialogues among scientists and diplomats, facilitate learning opportunities, and further strengthen such collaborative work for peace and development goals of the Philippines.

Participants from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Space Agency committed to the 7-day introductory Course and actively participated in the lively discussions. They later shared insights and key-takeaways, such as:
“Science diplomacy is a great help to obtain peace and healthy relationships with other countries.”
“This Course is excellent!”
“I look forward to a science diplomacy blueprint, like the Philippine economic diplomacy blueprint, to guide us in our collaboration with other countries, find leads that the Philippines could take advantage of, as well as echo our country’s position in science.”
Experts in Science Diplomacy generously shared their vast experiences, updates, and challenges in making science and diplomacy work. The list of resource persons and moderators included: (From left to right, top to bottom) Acting Assistant Secretary Jesusa Susana V. Paez (DFA – Office of the Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and International Economic Affairs [OUMAIER); Dr. Leah J. Buendia (DOST – Assistant Secretary for International Cooperation); Ms. Bien Janine C. Balocating (DFA – OUMAIER); Atty. Leslie Escosura – Bustamante (DFA – Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office [MOAO]); Ms Desiree Eve R. Maaño (DENR – Biodiversity Management Bureau), Director Roderico C. Atienza (DFA – MOAO); Director Emma R. Sarne (DFA – United Nations and International Organizations); Dr. Joel Buenaventura (DOH – Bureau of International Health Cooperation Unit); Ms. Maria May-I L. Fabros (DFA – United Nations and International Organizations [UNIO]); Director Joyleen E. Santos (DFA – UNIO); Dr. Rosa T. Perez (National Panel of Technical Experts – Climate Change Commission); Mr. Christopher P. Castillo (DFA – UNIO); Atty. Jilliane De Dumo – Cornista (DFA – Office of Treaties and Legal Affairs); Deputy Director-General Dr. Gay Jane P. Perez (Philippine Space Agency); Director-General Dr. Joel Joseph S. Marciano (Philippine Space Agency); Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Deena Joy D. Amatong (Embassy of the Philippines in Austria); Dr. Carlo A. Arcilla (Philippine Nuclear Research Institute); Ms. Andrea Lynn N. Lazaro (Embassy of the Philippines in Austria).
Acting Senior Special Assistant Eric Gerardo E. Tamayo highlighted the initiatives of the DFA in promoting the Philippines’ science and technology-related interests through bilateral and multilateral cooperation.