International Year of Chemistry: Our life, Our future

10 April 2011

Chemistry - our life, our future has been chosen as the theme for International Year of Chemistry in 2011. The year celebrates the centenary in 1911 of the granting of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Marie Curie (1867-1934) for her discovery of radium and polonium. She died as a result of the radiation to which she had been exposed. The year 2011 also marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the International Association of Chemical Societies.

IYC 2011 will emphasise that chemistry is a creative science essential for sustainability and improvements to our way of life. Activities such as lectures, exhibits and practical experiments will explore how chemical research is critical for studying the world’s most vexing problems of food, water, health, energy, transportation and more. It will involve a range of interactive entertaining and educational activities for all ages.

International Year of Chemistry

Founded in 1919, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) is an organisation of chemists from industry and academia. It is recognised as the worldwide authority on chemical nomenclature, terminology, standardised methods of measuring atomic weights and more. It has been proactive in establishing a wide range of conferences and projects designed to promote and stimulate modern developments in chemistry. Another key focus of the organisation is to improve chemistry education and encourage public understanding of the subject.

The idea for an international year was first discussed by IUPAC in 2006 following which a task group developed a plan to secure the designation by UNESCO of an International Year of Chemistry. The Organisation endorsed the proposal for proclamation by the United Nations. In December 2008 the 63rd UN General Assembly adopted the resolution proclaiming 2011 as International Year of Chemistry.

The opening event was held on 27 and 28 January 2011 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris in the presence of an international gathering including Nobel Prize Chemistry laureates. The UN organisation UNESCO and IUPAC are designated as the principal partners for International Year of Chemistry. They are supported by official sponsors and many organisations to promote IYC as a worldwide celebration. Events are planned to focus on the achievements of chemistry and its contribution to mankind.

Our life, Our future

The unifying theme of International Year of Chemistry is intended to reach across the globe with opportunities for public participation at the local, regional and national level with a calendar of events to suit all ages on all continents. A vast programme in many countries is hoped to stimulate an interest in Chemistry - our life, our future.

Ita Marguet

Note: Acknowledgement is given to sources used in this text. It follows texts on U.N. International Year of Physics (2005), International Year of Astronomy (2009), International Year of Biodiversity (2010) and International Year of Cooperatives (Robert Owen) (2012).