IOCD LogoIOCD Logo International Organization
Chemical Sciences in Development
The Chemical Sciences and Development
IOCD was founded at UNESCO in 1981 and promotes the pursuit and application of the chemical sciences for sustainable development and economic growth.
IOCD's current priority focus is on promoting the chemical sciences for development and especially for global sustainability.
News and Views
IOCD supports ‘Manifesto to Secure a Healthy Planet for All — A Call for Emergency Action’: In advance of the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September 2019, the InterAction Council (a group of former Heads of State and Government, co-chaired by the former Prime Minister of Ireland, Bertie Ahern and former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo) launched a Manifesto to Secure a Healthy Planet for All — A Call for Emergency Action at a high-level event in London on 31 July 2019. IOCD's Secretary, Stephen Matlin, attended the event and IOCD has endorsed the Manifesto.
Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education (STICE): The STICE project of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry is also supported by IOCD. Members of the STICE project group, Peter Mahaffy, Stephen Matlin, Thomas Holme and Jennifer MacKellar, published a paper in Nature Sustainability in May 2019, entitled Systems thinking for education about the molecular basis of sustainability. This discusses the potential roles and approaches that chemistry education can follow and introduces a new visualization tool, the systems-oriented concept map extension (SOCME) to illustrate systems thinking in chemistry.

Fake Science: IOCD's group Chemists for Sustainability published an article in Royal Society Open Science in May 2019, on Fake science and the knowledge crisis: ignorance can be fatal.

The Crisis of Waste and the Need for a Post-Trash Age: Waste is one of the major challenges of the 21st century, causing pollution of the environment on land and in the air and oceans, as well as depleting our useable stocks of planetary resources. IOCD's group Chemists for Sustainability published an article in April 2019 which they called for the concept of waste to be replaced by one in which all material is regarded as ‘post-trash’ – i.e. matter that is managed to be available for potential further use.

IOCD Scientist Wins 2019 John Wheatley Award: Federico Rosei has won the 2019 John Wheatley Award of the American Physical Society, “for sustained leadership and service to the international physics community, in particular for developing global collaborations through projects and networks in China, Mexico and several African countries, and for exceptional mentoring efforts”. Professor Rosei is head of the centre on Materials for Energy Conversion, Saving and Storage (MATECSS) and holds a UNESCO Chair at the Centre Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications in the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique of the Université du Québec, Montreal.

Gold Medal for Gerhard Bringmann: IOCD congratulates Professor Gerhard Bringmann, who has been awarded the Medal Bene Merenti in Gold, in recognition of his extraordinary humanitarian commitment, his outstanding scientific achievements, and his particular merits to the University of Würzburg. Professor Bringmann founded and leads the BEBUC initiative with which IOCD is affiliated and which operates an Excellence Scholarship Programme that has been supporting outstanding students around the world, including in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

IOCD commemorates Thomas Eisner on the 90th anniversary of his birth, 25 June 2019: Eisner is remembered as the ‘father of chemical ecology’ and was an ardent promoter of biodiversity conservation, the value of which could be demonstrated through ‘chemical prospecting’. For a Perspective on Eisner's legacy and it's linkages to IOCD's work to promote sustainable development, see here.
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.
In December 2018, IOCD's General Assembly approved the organizational strategy for 2019-2021, with a focus on promoting the chemical sciences for development and especially for global sustainability. For details, click here.
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.
World Environment Day, 5 June 2019: For a Perspective from 'Chemists for Sustainability' see here.
Earth Day, 22 April is an annual event that began in the USA in 1970 and is now celebrated worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day now includes events in more than 193 countries, coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network. IOCD marks the 2019 Earth Day with a Perspective, which can be accessed here; and with a web article on the challenge of waste and the need to redefine it as 'post-trash', which can be accessed here.
Systems thinking is an invaluable tool that can help chemists to better understand the discipline and to apply it to the challenges of sustainable development.

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 here.
IOCD is marking the 2019 IYPTC with a number of activities:
  • IOCD's action group, C4S, has written two articles on the Periodic Table and its significance for sustainable development: an editorial in Current Science and an article in the European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry.
  • The role of Glen Seaborg, IOCD's Founding President and a central figure in the extension of the Period Table in the 20th Century, is celebrated (see below).
  • C4S members Peter Mahaffy and Stephen Matlin are participating in the meetings of IUPAC in Paris in July 2019, during which the IYPTC will be a central feature, alongside celebrations of IUPAC's own centenary (see below).
For more information on the IYPTC, click here.

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 Anniversary, click here.

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 its work.
For an appreciation of Glen Seaborg, click here.

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.
IOCD strongly supports equality, diversity and inclusion in science. See the panel below for details. Recent activities include:
  • The C4S group has published two articles highlighting the challenges of improving equality, diversity and inclusion in science – see here and panel below for details.
Meetings, Conferences and Special Events

Equality, diversity and inclusion

IOCD's C4S group held a workshop in Hyderabad, India in 2018 on the theme of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in science, hosted at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology. The writing team included Professor Vivian Yam linking from the University of Hong Kong. Professor 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 energy. You can read about her work here.
Articles resulting from the C4S workshop highlight the need to develop cultural competence to achieve deep-seated and sustainable change in the effort to improve EDI. They have been published by the global news syndicate Project Syndicate and in Angewandte Chemie International Edition.
Professor Yam has also written a Perspective for IOCD on gender equality and hosted an event on 12 February 2019 in Hong Kong as part of the IUPAC Global Women's Breakfast initiative. See below under PERSPECTIVES for further details.
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.

‘One-World’ Chemistry

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 chemistry.
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
IOCD presents perspective/comment/opinion articles on topics of current interest related to the chemical sciences, sustainable development and the broader connections between science and society.
  • The 31 July 2019 launch of the Manifesto to Secure a Healthy Planet for All — A Call for Emergency Action by the InterAction Council is another important signal of the climate and environmental crisis that the planet Earth is facing. IOCD supports the call for emergency action. For a Perspective article on the Manifesto and its significance, see here.
  • The 90th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Eisner, ‘father of chemical ecology’ is the occasion for a reflection on the growing threat of biodiversity loss and IOCD's work to promote the role of the chemical sciences in sustainable development. See here.
  • IOCD's action group 'Chemists for Sustainability' provides a reflection on the significance of World Environment Day, 5 June 2019 and the role that chemistry must play in achieving sustainable development. See here.
  • A new publication in Nature Sustainability from a project of IUPAC supported by IOCD is highlighted in an IOCD Perspective by one of its co-authors, Stephen Matlin (UK). The project aims to promote and facilitate the introduction of systems thinking into mainstream general chemistry education, to enhance the capacities of chemists to use systems thinking and to contribute to sustainable development. To read the perspective, click here.
  • Stephen Matlin (UK) marks Earth Day, 22 April 2019, with a reflection on “Earth Day and the role of chemistry in sustainable development”. To read the perspective, click here.
  • Vivian Yam (Hong Kong) writes about “Encouraging women and girls in science” in connection with the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11), IUPAC's Global Women's Breakfast (February 12) and International Women's Day (March 8). To read the perspective, click here.
  • Stephen Matlin (UK) writes on “It's time to fix the inequality problem in science”, highlighting the barriers and discrimination that women continue to meet at all levels of science, the need to address the challenges in equity, diversity and inclusion in science and the valuable role that can be played by training in cultural competence. To read the perspective, click here.
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