33 No. 4
In my previous column in the 2010 November-December issue, I outlined my view on the future prospects of IUPAC and emphasized that my pressing role would be to build a firm platform for a promising future for IUPAC. We have been witnessing the increasing enthusiasm of chemists through the activities of IYC2011, which certainly gives IUPAC momentum as a world leading organization for chemistry and for science. In this contribution, I focus on two concrete items to be promoted as our mission.
IUPAC has been blessed with an excellent group of expert chemists in its organization, who are gathered from all over the world. We have a responsibility to use our resources to address global needs in order to attain sustainable development of our modern society. There is no question that the power of chemistry is a prerequisite for a sustainable solution to human health and environmental problems. Therefore, IUPAC should respond promptly and properly to global interests and urgent necessities. I am confident that IUPAC will be able to do it. In this light, I point out three key issues to be considered.
Close cooperation between academic and industrial sectors of the Union is desirable, and we may wish to strengthen the relationship. Involvement of industry in the IYC2011 activities is phenomenal. However, I was warned that IUPAC could lose ties with industry very quickly after IYC2011 if we do not demonstrate a clear vision.
Individual chemical societies have come to grips with this important mission, and they are actively conducting projects to meet social needs and to appeal to the public. IUPAC may need to communicate with these societies and to cooperate with them in order to share their scientific resources.
Within our organization, CHEMRAWN (CHEMical Research Applied to World Needs) and COCI (Committee on Chemistry and Industry) are perhaps best suited to help meet social needs. At the same time, divisions also are encouraged to create projects to meet social needs. It is my hope that CHEMRAWN and COCI will help the divisions with planning and assembling ideas and resources.
The importance of IUPAC activities ought to be recognized widely. To attain this goal we should focus on three specific target audiences: the “leading chemistry circles,” the chemical communities in emerging regions, and the general public.
Leading chemistry circles: IUPAC has been, and will continue to be, concerned with the advancement of chemistry. Considering the rapid progress of science and technology, IUPAC must keep up with that swift pace in order to attract special attention from chemists. I think the standing committees and divisions are very much aware of this. It is my conviction that the activities of IUPAC should earn the respect of chemistry circles. We should seriously consider increasing the number of IUPAC sponsorships of the major international chemistry conferences, especially those on emerging areas of chemistry. It is also necessary to establish a mechanism to integrate advice from leading chemists.
Chemical communities in emerging regions: It is as important as ever that IUPAC assist chemical societies in rapidly developing countries. In recent years, many of these societies became Associate National Adhering Organizations (ANAOs) of IUPAC. In 2009, IUPAC consisted of 18 ANAOs in addition to 51 NAOs. Some of the ANAOs became full-members later, increasing the number of NAOs to 56 in 2011. However, I am concerned about a substantial drop in the number of ANAOs to a mere four, which means we lost nine societies in the last two years.
General public: One of the great achievements of IYC2011 has been to draw public attention to chemistry in a positive way. This trend must be carried over to the post-IYC2011 era for the sake of IUPAC’s future. On the other hand, I had an opportunity to attend the closing ceremony of The Chemistry Olympiad 2010 in Tokyo, where I came across a feverish atmosphere of talented youth gathered from various countries. The media gave prominent coverage of this event, and conveyed very positive impressions of chemistry to the public. IUPAC has been involved in the Chemistry Olympiad in recent years, and I wish to establish even closer ties with its international organization.
last modified 8 July 2011.
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