INSIGHT: Opportunities to engage in International Year of Chemistry

24 January 2011 17:43  [Source: ICIS news]

By Nigel Davis

International Year of Chemistry logoLONDON (ICIS)--The chemical industry has a huge opportunity this year to show the world just what it does and how important its products and processes are in the developing global economy.

Companies will find themselves centre stage throughout the UN’s International Year of Chemistry (IYC), which is launched in Paris this week with a two day conference on 27 and 28 January.

Some are deeply involved in International Year of Chemistry events and sponsorship but all can expect some comeback from much broader, sector-wide exposure.

IYC events are widespread and cover important local, regional and global issues of nutrition, health, materials, energy and the environment.

National meetings, projects and briefings are aimed at raising awareness and the relevance of chemistry, often called the enabling science, to the way in which societies want to develop.

One of the largest ever global experiments involves children the world over testing water quality.

The influential science journal Nature suggested this month that this central science deserves its celebration - it is often sidelined by physics and biology.

The producers of intermediates and materials that rely on chemical processes and the manipulation of molecules will be playing their part in emphasising just how important chemistry is - and how important they are - to global commerce, industrial development, and personal well-being.

You can’t run a chemicals company successfully without understanding the science and process technology that underpins it. Chemistry makes a significant contribution to daily life and its influence has spread increasingly with industrial development.

That fact alone suggests that chemists and the chemical industry also have vitally important roles to play in helping society tackle some of its greatest problems. Major chemical industry players will be represented by senior management in Paris and at an IYC launch meeting at the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) in Philadelphia on 1 February.

In Paris, Dow CEO Andrew Liveris intends to talk about the role of chemistry in creating a sustainable future. He represents Dow Chemical but will also be present in his role as president of the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA).

Some in the industry see the IYC as a great opportunity to showcase the sector’s science credentials and its image, battered as it may be. The IYC gives companies in the sector an opportunity that shouldn’t be lost to sell chemistry to the people in many different ways.

Events in Europe include an innovation exhibition at the European Commission in September and an expected November meeting looking at the creative future of chemistry.

The UN-sponsored celebration of chemistry is being held to coincide with the centenary of the award of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry to Marie Curie. It also coincides with the 350th anniversary of the publication of Robert Boyle’s The Sceptical Chymist, which is widely agreed to have put the science of chemistry firmly on the map.

The trade federation Cefic is also helping to organise, through the petrochemical industry-sponsored Xperimania project, an educational scheme that wants to bridge the gender gap in chemistry. It is being developed jointly with European ministers of education and European Schoolnet.

Education and women in chemistry are two themes that will hold centre stage throughout the year-long celebration of chemistry. The ICCA, as part of its programme of events, will launch at the IYC opening a video on the global experiment - Water: a Global Solution.

The development and implementation of the taskforce for the experiment is being overseen by an IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) and UNESCO task force. Cefic is acting as secretariat to the project.

Worldwide involvement and a multitude of actions at the local, national and regional levels will help to engage a much wider audience in the understanding of chemistry and the way in which chemicals help shape our environment.

The opportunities for engagement that the IYC present to most chemicals players are significant and should not be lost. The dialogue  is to be welcomed.

To discuss issues facing the chemical industry go to ICIS connect


By: Nigel Davis
+44 20 8652 3214



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