The concept of IYC 2011 started with the recognition among IUPAC executives that a number of scientific disciplines have achieved significant benefits from securing designation by the United Nations of an international year pertaining to their field of study. The idea of holding a year of chemistry was first discussed in 2006, during the April meeting of the IUPAC Executive Committee. Following that meeting, a task group was formed to secure the designation by UNESCO of an International Year of Chemistry. The project led by the IUPAC Committee on Chemistry Education, was successfully completed when, in April 2008, the Executive Board of UNESCO endorsed the proposal for proclamation by the United Nations of 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry.
Read more about that project at the IUPAC site.
At its General Assembly on August 11-12, 2007, the IUPAC Council endorsed the plan to obtain United Nations approval of 2011 as an International Year of Chemistry. The Union invited all Adhering Organizations, Associated Organizations, and other Chemical Societies to assist with a designation that would create a strategic opportunity to communicate the central importance of chemistry in every facet of modern life.
See the original proposal for more detail.
As a follow-up to the IUPAC Council endorsement, the Ethiopian Chemical Society worked with the Federation of African Chemical Societies to bring a resolution to UNESCO* through the Ethiopian state. The proposal was submitted to the UNESCO Executive Board at its meeting in April 2008 with the support of nearly 25 countries, including Algeria, Benin, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, France, India, Japan, Kuwait, Madagascar, Malaysia, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Uganda, United Republic Tanzania, and Zambia.
See the UNESCO documentation for more details.
Meanwhile, IUPAC** proceeded to establish a management committee to coordinate the initiative. The group includes IUPAC officers and representatives of the major chemical federations from Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and representatives from the chemical industry and UNESCO.
Read more in Chemistry International July-August 2008.
In December 2008, the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the resolution proclaiming 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry, placing UNESCO and IUPAC at the helm of the event. Again, Ethiopia submitted the UN resolution calling for the year, drawing attention to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, 2005-2014, and underscored that national and international activities carried out during 2011 will emphasize the importance of chemistry in sustaining natural resources. The resolution submitted by Ethiopia was co-sponsored by the following countries: Brazil, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malawi, Nigeria, Oman, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Viet Nam, and Yemen.
For more details, see the IUPAC/UNESCO press release.
*UNESCO, founded in November 1945 as a specialized agency of the United Nations, contributes to the building of peace, the alleviation of poverty, to sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, science, culture, and communication. In fulfilling its mission, UNESCO functions as a laboratory of ideas and a standard-setter to forge universal agreements on emerging ethical issues. The organization also serves as a clearinghouse—for the dissemination and sharing of information and knowledge—while helping member states to build their human and institutional capacities in diverse fields. Through these activities, UNESCO promotes international cooperation among its 193 member states and six associate members. Its programs in natural sciences focus on mobilizing science knowledge and policy for sustainable development in the areas of basic sciences, science education, ecological and earth sciences, water sciences, and climate change. More information about UNESCO and its activities in the natural sciences is available at www.unesco.org/science.
**IUPAC was formed in 1919 by chemists from industry and academia. For nearly 90 years, the Union has succeeded in fostering worldwide communications in the chemical sciences and in uniting academic, industrial, and public-sector chemistry in a common language. IUPAC is recognized as the world authority on chemical nomenclature, terminology, standardized methods for measurement, atomic weights, and more. In recent years, IUPAC 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 organization is on improving chemistry education and encouraging public understanding of chemistry. More information about IUPAC and its activities is available at www.iupac.org.