Left: Secretary De la Peña delivers his pre-recorded statement at the plenary of the IAEA General Conference

Right: Ambassador Maria Cleofe Natividad, who currently serves as ambassador to Austria and Permanent Representative to the IAEA, attends the plenary of the conference in person. (Photo from the Philippine Embassy in Austria)

DOST Secretary leads Philippine Delegation to IAEA 64th General Conference

Representing the country’s recent strides towards Atoms for Peace and Development, Secretary Fortunato de la Peña of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) officially heads the Philippine Delegation during the opening of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 64th General Conference on September 21, 2020 in Vienna, Austria.

Ambassador Maria Cleofe Natividad, who is the Philippines' ambassador to Austria and the Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the IAEA, attends the conference in person as the alternate head of the delegation due to the safety precautions for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In his pre-recorded address to the plenary session, the Secretary acknowledged the role of nuclear science and technology in fighting the current pandemic, thanking the IAEA for its COVID-19 assistance.

"The peaceful uses of nuclear energy have time and time again risen up to meet the world's pressing and complex challenges. It is no surprise, therefore, that nuclear technology has stepped up to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19."

During the onset of the pandemic, the IAEA launched a massive operation to assist countries by providing hundreds of advanced virus detection/diagnosis equipment and other supplies to Member States, including the Philippines.

IAEA also initiated the Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action project (ZODIAC) aims to establish a global network of national diagnostic laboratories for the monitoring, surveillance, early detection and control of zoonotic diseases, using nuclear or nuclear-derived techniques.

“Fighting the coronavirus will remain our top priority until the pandemic is finally defeated,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi.

Acknowledging the role of nuclear energy in the prospective economic recovery of the Philippines from COVID-19, he also lauded before the international community the recent signing of Executive Order 116 directing the study for adopting a national position on nuclear power.

Secretary De la Peña also highlighted the current developments in nuclear and radiation applications in the Philippines. These include isotope techniques for food authentication and groundwater studies, upgrading of irradiation facilities and integration of nuclear subjects in undergraduate and graduate programs.

The 64th General Conference is being held from September 21 to 25, 2020, with several virtual events throughout the week.

IAEA serves as the international organization for the safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology across the globe. The Philippines became a Member State of the IAEA in 1958.

Link to the Secretary’s address: