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Chemical Sciences in Development

Current Activities: Chemists for Sustainability

Chemists for Sustainability: A group promoting the chemical sciences for sustainable development
Sustainable development is one of the overarching global challenges of the 21st century. In 2015, governments agreed at the United Nations on a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030.
Chemists for Sustainability (C4S) was formed as an Action Group in 2014 by an international group of chemists who believe that chemistry and related sciences have indispensable roles to play in helping the world to achieve the SDGs. There are currently four core members in the group, with others co-opted as required to bring additional perspectives to the work. The core group comprises Henning Hopf, Alain Krief, Stephen Matlin and Goverdhan Mehta.
The group has served advocacy and think-tank roles through written articles, lectures at various fora and web materials. It holds brainstorming meets about twice a year alternately in India and Europe, interacting in between by teleconference and email, to maintain a high momentum and deliver topical products via diverse international platforms.
The following is an overview of C4S products.
Repositioning chemistry for the 21st century
The C4S group argues that chemistry as a discipline needs redesign and reform, in order to ensure that it is attractive and productive as a science and relevant to solving 21st century challenges.
Chemistry for sustainable development
The C4S group discusses how chemistry's contributions are vital to helping achieve sustainable development and the SDGs.
‘One-world’ chemistry and systems thinking
The C4S group presents the concept of one-world chemistry (OWC) as a new orientation for the discipline. OWC emphasises the need for chemistry to be a science for the benefit of society, embracing the understanding that human health, animal health and the environment are all interconnected. Acting on the consequences requires ethical behaviour at all times, the employment of systems thinking in relation to all aspects of the practice of chemistry, and strengthening the capacity of chemistry for cross-disciplinary working.
Reforming the role of chemistry organizations
The C4S group argues that chemistry organizations must play a leading, pro-active role in the repositioning of chemistry that is required in the 21st century. This necessitates reforms in both national (e.g. chemistry societies) and international (e.g. IUPAC) bodies that represent the interests of the discipline and the profession.
Championing chemistry; advancing science
The C4S group discusses the need for new champions of chemistry to step forward to help drive the reforms that are need in the discipline.
  • S. A. Matlin, G. Mehta, H. Hopf, A. Krief. Championing chemistry. Chemical and Engineering News 2017, 95(6) 20-21.
In the ‘post-truth’ era, the C4S group emphasises the importance of chemists and other scientists vigorously promoting ‘scientific temper’ (the adoption of the culture of science, in and beyond the field itself, as a way of life that rejects anti-science thinking)
The C4S group analyses the system of scientific publishing, with emphasis on a perspective from the chemical sciences, and identifies a deep crisis that is unfolding, driven by the conjunction of sub-systems that connect the primary purpose of scientific advancement with financial and reputational rewards. It argues that piecemeal solutions are unlikely to be effective or sustainable and the time is ripe for the stakeholders in science publishing to seek new, systemic approaches that comprehensively address the fundamental flaws. The outlines of an action plan for the science community to generate such a process are suggested.
  • S. A. Matlin, G. Mehta, A. Krief, H. Hopf. The scientific publishing conundrum: a perspective from chemistry. Beilstein J Organic Chem., 2017, in the press.
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