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International Organization for Chemical Sciences in Development

Current Activitues

Promoting the Chemical Sciences for Development

IOCD and the 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:

For more details see the section on The chemical sciences.

As well as its active work in the focal area of the overall strategic priority for 2023-2025, IOCD engages in a range of activities to promote the role of the chemical sciences in development. These include:

Some examples are highlighted in the sections below.

External Projects Involving IOCD or its Members

IOCD is or has been a formal partner to a number of projects that are externally financed, in which it can contribute its knowledge, expertise and perspectives. These include:

2019 UN International Year of the Periodic Table of the Chemical Elements (IYPTCE)

The UN designated 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table of the Chemical Elements (IYPTCE). This marked the 150th anniversary of the publication of the landmark Periodic Table by Russian chemist Dmitry Mendeleev. He organized the approximately 60 then known elements into a chart based on periodic trends in their properties, recognised that there were gaps and correctly predicted the existence of as yet undiscovered elements, including gallium, germanium, scandium and technetium.

Subsequent work has demonstrated that Atomic Number is the underlying principle on which the elements in the Table are ordered. Advances in knowledge of atomic structure have explained the observed periodicity in properties in terms of the filling of atomic electron orbitals. The Table has thus become a bridge between observation and theory, guiding chemists in their understanding of chemical behaviour and driving new research into atomic structure. It also stimulated research to investigate elements formed by high-energy collisions between atoms – including the work by Glenn T. Seaborg, who was responsible for the identification and production of plutonium and discovery of nine additional elements, as well as for a major revision of the Periodic Table through his identification of the actinide concept. The Periodic Table can thus be seen as depicting the ‘Standard Model’ of chemistry as a science.

Glenn T. Seaborg was the founding President of IOCD. As well as being the IYPTCE, 2019 marked the 20th anniversary of Seaborg's death in 1999. IOCD commemorated this double event with a number of activities, including publications:

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

Participation in conferences


The Covid-19 pandemic interrupted the participation in conferences.




Ishango bone
© African Academy of Sciences

H.E. Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius, unveiling the Ishango Bone at the presentation ceremony, with IOCD Executive Director Prof. Alain Krief


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.”


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:

Contributions by IOCD's Executive Director Alain Krief and other IOCD scientists


Organisation Internationale des Sciences Chimiques pour le Développement
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