IOCD was established in 1981 under the auspices of UNESCO, as the first international
non-governmental organization (NGO) devoted to enhancing the role of the chemical sciences in
development work and involving chemists in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) —
enabling them to contribute to key areas of science and technology for development. Today, IOCD
remains the only international NGO with this focus and continues its mission through a variety of
During the last two centuries, the chemical sciences have contributed enormously both to broad
improvements in human wellbeing (including enhancements in life expectancy, health and quality of
life) and to wealth creation for individuals and nations. Landmark examples include the roles of
chemistry and related sciences in:
- Innovations in the generation, storage and use of energy
- Creation of new materials
- Advances in agriculture, food and nutrition
- Better health
- Economic growth
As well as its active work in the focal area of the overall strategic priority for 2020-2021
, IOCD engages in a range of
activities to promote the role of the chemical sciences in development. These include:
- Involvement in meetings, publications and media opportunities
- Participation in collaborative research programmes
- Contributions to international events
Some examples are highlighted in the sections below.
2019 UN International Year of the Periodic Table of the Chemical Elements
The UN designated 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table of the Chemical Elements
(IYPTCE). This marked the 150th anniversary of the publication of the landmark Periodic
Table by Russian chemist Dmitry Mendeleev. He organized the approximately 60 then known
elements into a chart based on periodic trends in their properties, recognised that there were gaps
and correctly predicted the existence of as yet undiscovered elements, including gallium, germanium,
scandium and technetium.
Subsequent work has demonstrated that Atomic Number is the underlying principle on which the
elements in the Table are ordered. Advances in knowledge of atomic structure have explained the
observed periodicity in properties in terms of the filling of atomic electron orbitals. The Table
has thus become a bridge between observation and theory, guiding chemists in their understanding of
chemical behaviour and driving new research into atomic structure. It also stimulated research to
investigate elements formed by high-energy collisions between atoms – including the work by
Glenn T. Seaborg, who was responsible for the identification and production of plutonium and
discovery of nine additional elements, as well as for a major revision of the Periodic Table through
his identification of the actinide concept. The Periodic Table can thus be seen as depicting the
‘Standard Model’ of chemistry as a science.
Glenn T. Seaborg
was the founding President of
. As well as being the IYPTCE, 2019 marked the 20th
anniversary of Seaborg's death
in 1999. IOCD commemorated this double event with a number of activities, including
- A paper by IOCD's Executive Director Alain Krief and IOCD Secretary Stephen
Matlin on Seaborg's work as a humanitarian scientists and promoter of global peace was
Two papers by IOCD's action group, Chemists for Sustainability, were published
on aspects of the significance of the Periodic Table and emphasising what it teaches us
about the limited stocks of the basic building blocks of matter. They convey messages about
the importance of learning to conserve and husband the available supplies of less abundant
elements and to avoid over-use and pollution in the exploitation of more abundant ones.
- S.A. Matlin, H. Hopf, A. Krief, G. Mehta. The simple
matter of sustainability. Current Science 2019, 116, 7-8.
- S.A. Matlin, G. Mehta, H. Hopf, A. Krief. The
periodic table of the chemical elements and sustainable development.
European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry 2019, 39-40, 4170-4173.