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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
Federico Rosei named as next Executive Director of IOCD: The current Executive Director, Prof Alain Krief, will step down at the end of 2020 and Prof. Federico Rosei will take up his appointment on 1 January 2021. He holds the Canada Research Chair in Nanostructured Materials at the Centre for Energy, Materials and Telecommunications, Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université du Québec, Canada. Prof. Rosei's contributions to science research and education have been recognised by a number of awards, including a UNESCO Chair in Materials and Technologies for Energy Conversion, the World Cultural Council's 2014 Jose Vasconcelos Award of Education and the American Physical Society's 2019 John Wheatley Award.
Federico Rosei
Professor Federico Rosei

Material circularity and the role of the chemical sciences as a key enabler of a sustainable post-trash age: A paper just published by the core group of IOCD's Chemists for Sustainability, in collaboration with Klaus Kümmerer and Lisa Keßler at Leuphana University in Germany, discusses the role of the chemical sciences in sustainability and illustrates the use of the Systems-Oriented Concept Map Extension (SOCME) tool in three case studies that explore the sustainability of production, use and disposal of aluminium, plastics and textiles.

International Day of Clean Air for blue skies, 7 September 2020: IOCD's group Chemists for Sustainability has written a brief Perspective to highlight the significance of this new UN Day, which is celebrated for the first time in 2020.

UN High Level Political Forum: Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development. On the occasion of this Forum at the United Nations in New York (7-16 July 2020) and its three-day ministerial meeting (7-16 July 2020), IOCD's group Chemists for Sustainability has issued a Statement entitled Action and delivery for sustainable development: Solidarity, preparedness and listening to the science are vital in the ‘critical decade’.

Picture credit: Stephen Matlin
Science, society and policy: IOCD's group Chemists for Sustainability published an article in Royal Society Open Science in May 2020 entitled Realigning science, society and policy in uncertain times.

Earth Day, 22 April 2020, celebrates its 50th anniversary and focuses on climate action. IOCD scientists reflect on the significance of this event in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the crucial role of science in combatting these global crises.

World Water Day, 22 March 2020 was about water and climate change — and how the two are inextricably linked. This illustrates part of the bigger picture that is unfolding, in which all the environmental crises in the Anthropocene are interconnected and need to be solved together. IOCD's action group, Chemists for Sustainability, embraces this understanding, which is central to its promotion of ‘one-world chemistry’ and the emphasis on systems thinking and cross-disciplinary action.

International Women's Day, 8 March 2020 has adopted the theme 'an equal world is an enabled world' (#EachforEqual). It aims to celebrate women's achievements, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality. Barriers and biases permeate all areas, including the sciences. While great advances have been made in the extent to which women have been able to participate and to gain recognition, leading positions, and honours for their contributions to science, the situation is still very far from equitable.

Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education (STICE): IOCD participated in and supported the STICE project (2017-2019) of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), for which Peter Mahaffy and Stephen Matlin served as co-chairs of the IUPAC Task Group. The project organized a Special Issue of the Journal of Chemical Education, published in December 2019, which attracted 43 papers related to Systems Thinking and Green and Sustainable Chemistry from around the world and included several published by members of the STICE Task Group. This project succeeded in making the case for STICE to a wide international audience and helped build bridges with existing sustainability movements such as those concerned with circular, green and sustainable chemistry. Furthermore, a new visualization tool — the Systems-Oriented Concept Map Extension, SOCME — was developed to assist in teaching and learning about STICE.

Hype, Hypocrisy, Falsification and Fakery in Science: IOCD's group Chemists for Sustainability published an article in Angewandte Chemie in February 2020 entitled Blocking the hype-hypocrisy-falsification-fakery pathway is needed to safeguard science.

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 two articles in 2019, in 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 — and for intensified effort by the chemical sciences to help end the time of waste by ‘clean up, catch up and smarten up’ approaches.

IOCD Scientist Wins 2019 John Wheatley Award: Federico Rosei 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.

IOCD Commemorated the Work and Legacies of Two Great Scientists in 2019:
  • Glen Seaborg (1912-1999): 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 celebrated 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.
  • Thomas Eisner (1929-2011): 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’. He encouraged IOCD's work and collaborated in the establishment of IOCD's Biotic Exploration Fund, an IOCD Working Group which encouraged and facilitated the sustainable and equitable exploitation of natural resources for local and global benefit.
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.
The 2020s is a critical decade for sustainability. Intensified efforts will be needed in the decade now begun to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals — 17 Goals and 169 targets associated with the UN's Agenda 2030. At the same time, a widening set of planetary environmental crises and emergencies is unfolding that urgently need attention — amidst warnings that actions taken in this decade are likely to impact on the state of the planet's environment for thousands of years to come.
Earth Day, 22 April is an annual event that began in the USA and is now celebrated worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Marking its 50th year, the theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate action. IOCD will support this event and theme with new work by its action group Chemists for Sustainability. Watch this website for details.
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.
Meetings, Conferences and Special Events
IOCD's Chemists for Sustainability group held a workshop in Hyderabad, India in January 2020, hosted by the School of Chemistry, University of Hyderabad and the Dr Reddy Institute of Life Sciences (DRILS). The workshop focused on study/writing projects on the intersection of science, society and politics, and on chemistry's role in dealing with the challenge of waste.
Work by IOCD's Chemists for Sustainability group will be featured in invited presentations at a number of conferences in 2020-2021. As a result of Covid-19, the scheduling of these conferences remains to be confirmed.
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 has collaborated with IUPAC in a global project to infuse systems thinking in chemistry education (STICE), which concluded at the end of 2019. Peter Mahaffy and Stephen Matlin were co-leaders of the STICE project.
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
For a complete list of IOCD Perspectives, which are all available to download free, click here.
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