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Vol. 27 No. 5
September-October 2005

Treasurer's Column: Achieving Important Goals with the Right Combination of “Hard Cash” and Volunteers

by Christoph Buxtorf

In financial terms, the biennium 2003–2004 has been a good one. Again, our reserves have increased—mainly due to some smart decisions made by the Financial Committee some years ago, moving a part of IUPAC capital from equity to bonds and making some changes in U.S.-dollar investments to bond investments in Euros just before the drop in the value of the dollar. As a result, our reserves have increased by 34% over this biennium.

Our income side is very much dependent on national subscriptions, publications, and earned interest. With the exception of some difficulties collecting national subscriptions from three National Adhering Organizations (one of them finally paid their arrears), operations went in an orderly manner. Expenses again were in line with budgets; hopefully we can achieve a similar result in the next biennium.

Can We Expect More Goods News?
Reading Bryan Henry’s Vice Presidential Critical Assessment of the project system now established within IUPAC, one can appreciate the positive moves we have made over the last few years. As Henry noted, “Three years have passed, and it appears that the project system is functioning very well, perhaps even better than expected.” It is my own impression that most of our “hard cash” is spent wisely and in a very professional manner. It underscores the thanks we owe to our many volunteers all over the globe who make a big impact on what we achieve at IUPAC. It is the combination of these two elements that creates a very powerful tool for “Advancing Worldwide Chemistry.”

So the conclusion is clear—let us devote more funds to good projects. However, there is always room for improvement. Let us think of better ways to communicate our results to a broader outside world. For instance, I still have the feeling that many people in the chemical industry do not know enough about what we are doing and how we contribute to their success. If we could gain their understanding and their cooperation, we might be able to bring in additional “hard cash” for new projects. The generous Samsung donation (July-August 2005 CI) is a shining, but rare, example of appreciation.

It is not the industry’s fault that our name and work is not better known; we should work harder to present clearly what we do for their benefit. The Committee on Chemistry and Industry (COCI) has started a campaign to attract chemical companies to our Company Associates (CA) program. The new CA brochure describes IUPAC, what we do, and how we benefit industry. It also discusses how being a CA is an asset for companies, as it helps create new contacts and new initiatives. For instance, in collaboration with UNESCO, COCI coordinates a Safety Training Program that provides opportunities for young practitioners from developing countries to gain hands-on experience from IUPAC CAs.

The Safety Training Program has, in the past, allowed fellows from Egypt, Turkey, Nigeria, Kenya, China, and Uruguay to receive training at IUPAC CAs in Japan, South Africa, Sweden, and the USA. Such arrangements are very attractive—both for the fellows that receive them and for the host CAs. I personally give this initiative a lot of credit as I am convinced that joint projects with industry can be an avenue for demonstrating our high-quality work and generating support for IUPAC.

Our worldwide expertise is our most important strength, which, when combined with adequate funding, we can use in the following ways:

  • developing our common language (nomenclature and structure)
  • solving environmental problems
  • enhancing education
  • controlling chemical weapons
  • improving human health
  • promoting analytical and physical chemistry standards
  • facilitating safety of plant operations


In a nutshell, it is of the highest importance that we continue to support these efforts to ensure public acceptance and appreciation of chemistry. Let us not underestimate our role in changing public views about chemistry. We distribute our know-how free of charge to any place in the world. Our homepage can be called on 24 hours a day, all year around. At our meetings and workshops, we achieve active, worldwide participation, and ideas are exchanged and further developed for the benefit of all. “Advancing Worldwide Chemistry” is much more than a phrase—it is an expression of what IUPAC actually does everyday. However, it is not good enough to just do good things—we need to talk about them more frequently and widely. This is especially important for countries that are trying to establish themselves economically. Our reputation as experts is not well known in these areas.

Let us use all of IUPAC’s tools—global expertise in chemistry, combined with a powerful project system, highly skilled volunteers, and ample funding—to change the sometimes “not-so-brave new world” and help the human race to survive in a decent way. And in the very end, a big thank you—to all of you—for your hard work as highly skilled volunteers for IUPAC! Without your commitment and help, “hard cash” would not do it!

Christoph F. Buxtorf <ch.buxtorf@dplanet.ch> is the current treasurer of IUPAC and a member of the Executive Committee. He is retired from Novartis Crop Protection where he was head of the Production and Technology Division.


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