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Chemical Sciences in Development

What We Do: Promoting the Chemical Sciences for Development

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 channels.
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
For more details see the section on The chemical sciences
As well as its active work in the focal areas of its two strategic priority areas, as pursued by the projects and programmes of its Working Groups, IOCD utilises meetings, publications and media opportunities to promote the role of the chemical sciences in development. Some examples are highlighted here.
Celebrating The International Year Of Chemistry In 2011
The United Nations designated 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry (IYC2011), providing opportunities for a worldwide celebration of the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to the well-being of humankind. An initiative of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry and UNESCO, the goals of IYC2011 were to increase the public appreciation of chemistry in meeting world needs, to encourage interest in chemistry among young people, and to generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry. Learn more about IYC2011.
IOCD contributions to IYC2011 included:
Contributions by IOCD's President Jean-Marie Lehn
As a prominent chemist (Jean-Marie Lehn shared the 1987 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for development and use of molecules that recognize and interact with each other, a field now known as ‘supramolecular chemistry’), IOCD's President was very active in promoting the field of chemistry and celebrating its achievements in connection with IYC2011.


Participating in the official launch ceremony of IYC2011 on 27-28 January in Paris at the headquarters of UNESCO, Professor Lehn gave the Introductory Lecture and framed the importance of the year in his talk, entitled “From Matter to Life: Chemistry!”. He observed that “The essence of chemistry is not just to discover but to create novel expressions of complex matters. The book of chemistry is not just to be read, it is to be written.” Read more about this event here, here and here.

IOCD President Jean-Marie Lehn pictured during the official launch of the 2011 International Year of Chemistry at UNESCO, Paris on 27 January 2011.

More on the official inauguration of IYC2011 and remarks by Jean-Marie Lehn on “Protecting our planet: the role of chemistry in creating a sustainable future” can be found here.

Professor Lehn also participated in a number of other meetings associated with IYC2011. These included:

Interviews and comments:

  • In an interview with Nature, Professor Lehn spoke about the role of science in society and culture.
  • Professor Lehn's comment “Chemistry will undoubtedly remain the central science in the 21st century” was featured at the front of the IYC2011 Media Kit of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.


  • Writing on “Chemistry: The science and art of matter” in a special edition of the UNESCO Courier marking the start of IYC2011, IOCD's President Jean-Marie Lehn highlighted the pivotal role that chemistry has to play in relation to many aspects of human progress, including food and medicines, clothes and housing, energy and raw materials, transport and communications and much else.
  • A paper by Professor Lehn on “Configurational and Constitutional Information Storage: Multiple Dynamics in Systems Based on Pyridyl and Acyl Hydrazones” was featured by Chemistry: A European Journal as part of its marking of the beginning of IYC2011.
  • The book Concepts of Nanochemistry, co-authored by Ludovico Cademartiri, Geoffrey A. Ozin and Jean-Marie Lehn, was featured by the publishers Wiley as one of their Official International Year of Chemistry Publications.

Contributions by IOCD's Executive Director Alain Krief and other IOCD scientists
Highlighting the Role and Potential of the Chemical Sciences for Development
IOCD's work to promote the role of the chemical sciences in development includes:

Organization and sponsorship of meetings

  • IOCD's prestigious series of International Conferences on Plant Chemistry, organised by the Working Group on Plant Chemistry every 1-2 years, have provided an important mechanism for plant chemists to share the latest results, including on the practical uses of plant products in medicine and other fields. To date, there have been 12 Symposia since 1996. For details of the IOCD Plant Chemistry Symposia, click here.
  • In partnership with the Namur Research College (NARC), IOCD has mounted a prestigious series of international symposia, in which leading chemists including Nobel Laureates have presented the latest advances in research in the chemical sciences. To date there have been five of these Symposia. For details of the IOCD-NARC Symposia, click here.
  • IOCD was a co-sponsor of the 23rd International Symposium on Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis (23PBA), held in João Pessoa, Brazil, on 9-12 October 2011. IOCD Board member Prof. Stephen Matlin gave a Keynote Lecture during 23PBA, on “Globalization and development: The critical role of pharmaceutical and biomedical analysis ”. The text of this presentation can be downloaded here.

Publications and media opportunities

IOCD publishes a range of papers and articles in journals and magazines, as well as occasionally issuing its own working papers, meeting reports, brochures and press releases. A listing of these can be found here.
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