The Chemical Sciences and Development
IOCD was founded at UNESCO in 1981 and promotes the pursuit and application of the chemical sciences
for sustainable, equitable human development and economic growth, especially in low- and
IOCD's current focus is on two priority areas:
- Chemistry for Better Health and a Better Environment
- Strengthening Education in the Chemical Sciences
Current highlights of IOCD work include:
Working for Sustainable Development
The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: At a high-level meeting of governments at the UN in
New York on 25 September 2015, the Millennium Development Goals which have guided international
efforts to address the problems of poorer countries since 2000 were succeeded by new Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030. The SDGs embrace a global vision of development for
all and with responsibility shared by all countries.
Chemistry and the SDGs: Chemistry's contribution is essential to meeting most, if not all, of
the SDGs. Importantly, many of these contributions require that chemistry works in close concert
with other disciplines to identify solutions that are practical, affordable and sustainable. IOCD
is committed to working in partnership with others to ensure that chemistry fulfils its potential of
contributing to sustainable development.
IOCD has formed an action group — ‘Chemists for Sustainability’ —
focusing on the roles of chemistry in sustainable development. The group has published over a dozen
articles on aspects of the role and future of the chemical sciences.
2019 – MILESTONES IN CHEMISTRY
2019 UN International Year of the Periodic Table of the Chemical Elements (IYPTCE)
The UN designation of this International Year recognises chemistry's success in identifying and
learning to manipulate the fundamental atomic and molecular entities of which all matter is
composed. IYPTC celebrates 150 years since the publication of the landmark Periodic Table by Russian
chemist Dmitry Mendeleev, which organized the known elements according to their properties,
predicted the existence of as yet undiscovered ones and provided the stimulus for theoretical
advances and a better understanding of atomic structure and properties.
One of the ways that the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) will be marking
the IYPTCE is through the 'Periodic Table of Younger Chemists'
. In collaboration with the
International Younger Chemists Network, IUPAC is running a project from July 2018 to July 2019 to
honour a diverse group of 118 outstanding younger chemists from around the world who in embody
the mission and core values of IUPAC. Approximately eight are being revealed each month beginning in
July 2018. Nominations are invited for each month. For more information, click
IOCD will be marking the 2019 IYPTC with a number of activities. Look out for details!
For more information on the IYPTC, click
100th Anniversary of IUPAC
In 2019, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) celebrates the
100th anniversary of its founding in Paris. A high point will be the holding of the World
Chemistry Conference and IUPAC General Assembly in Paris in July 2019.
IOCD will be participating in the Paris events.
For more information on the IUPAC 100th
Celebrating the contributions of Glen Seaborg (1912-1999)
The American chemist Glenn Seaborg won a share of the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His work
on the synthesis, discovery and investigation of ten trans-uranium elements led to his development
of the actinide concept and the arrangement of the actinide series in the Periodic Table.
20 years after Seaborg's death, IOCD celebrates not only his scientific contributions to chemistry,
but also his role in the use of the chemical sciences for development. Seaborg was IOCD's first
President, holding this office for more than a decade (1981-1992) and helping to steer and promote
For an appreciation of Glen Seaborg, click
2018 Nobel Prizes and Gender
Two of the six Nobel Laureates in the physical sciences announced in October 2018 were women.
Unfortunately, this is a very unusual occurrence. Frances Arnold shared the chemistry prize with
George Smith and Sir Gregory Winter, for the directed evolution of enzymes, being only
the fifth woman to do so. Donna Strickland won the physics prize, along with Arthur
Ashkin and Gérard Mourou, for optical tweezers and their application to biological
systems – only the third woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize in physics and the first for 55
years. A great deal of media attention is now being given to the paucity of women among Nobel
Laureates and other high-level science prizes and to the many systemic factors that cause this
imbalance. Earlier in 2018, IOCD's Chemists for Sustainability group held a writing
workshop and published two articles highlighting the challenges of improving equality, diversity and
inclusion in science – see the panel below for details.
Meetings, Conferences and Special Events
IOCD Writing Workshop links Hyderabad and Hong Kong
IOCD's Action Group, Chemists for Sustainability, held a writing workshop in
Hyderabad, India in January 2018, hosted at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology. Vivian Yam
from Hong Kong, a member of the workshop team, was unable to travel to Hyderabad owing to
commitments in Hong Kong, but participated through email and daily skype calls in the work on the
theme of equality, diversity and inclusion in science.
Professor Vivian Yam, a member of IOCD's General Assembly, was the youngest member to be elected to
the Chinese Academy of Sciences and was a laureate of the 2011 L'Oréal-UNESCO Awards for
Women in Science for her work on light-emitting materials and innovative ways of capturing solar
Two articles resulted from the workshop – one was aimed at a general audience and was
published in newspapers around the world through the global news syndicate Project Syndicate;
the second was directed specifically to the world of chemistry and was published in Angewandte
Chemie International Edition.
IOCD at the 25th International Conference on Chemistry Education (ICCE)
The 25th ICCE took place in Sydney, Australia on 10-14 July 2018. Peter Mahaffy
and Stephen Matlin gave a joint Keynote Plenary presentation on the topic Seeing the
Forest While in the Trees: Systems Thinking in Science Education and there was a strong theme of
systems thinking in chemistry education (STICE) throughout the ICCE, including lecture
sessions and workshops. Mahaffy and Matlin are co-authors, along with other members of IOCD's group
Chemists for Sustainability, of a recent paper on the subject in Nature
2018 T. H. G. Jones Memorial Lecture, University of Queensland
IOCD scientist Stephen Matlin was designated the 2018 T. H. G. Jones Memorial Lecturer
by the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
for 2018 and delivered the lecture there on 16 July 2016 on the topic The Chemical Sciences and a
Sustainable Future. He also gave a seminar in the School on the following day, speaking about
Chemistry and health: the need for a comprehensive approach.
IOCD Working Groups and Projects
Chemists for Sustainability (C4S)
IOCD action group C4S was formed 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
sustainable development. The core group, which includes Alain Krief, Henning Hopf,
Stephen Matlin and Goverdhan Mehta as core members, has served advocacy and think-tank
roles through written articles, lectures at various fora and web materials.
Among its contributions, the C4S group has developed the concept of ‘one-world’
chemistry as a new orientation for the discipline.
Systems Thinking in Chemistry
The C4S group has emphasised the importance of incorporation of systems thinking into chemistry.
IOCD is currently collaborating with IUPAC in a global project to infuse systems thinking in
chemistry education (STICE).
Peter Mahaffy and Stephen Matlin are co-leaders of the systems thinking
in chemistry education IUPAC STICE project, supported by IOCD.
Journal of Chemical Education Themed Issue
The Journal is planning a themed issue on the topic of systems thinking and green and sustainable
IOCD and Partners
IOCD engages in strategic collaborations with a range of other organizations that share similar
goals in furthering the role of the chemical sciences. Current examples include:
- African Academy of Sciences — AAS
- International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry — IUPAC