I  U  P  A  C

News & Notices

Organizations & People

Standing Committees






Links of Interest

Search the Site

Home Page



International Conference on Biodiversity and Bioresources - Conservation and Utilization

Phuket, Thailand, 23-27 November 1997

Welcome in Phuket,

Monday November 24, 1997

Royal Highness,
Prof. Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol,
Dear Speakers and Chairmen,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As its president I take great pleasure in welcoming you, on behalf of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), to this International Conference on Biodiversity and BioresourcesConservation and Utilization taking place in this most beautiful country, i.e., Thailand.

Please allow me to add a few words about IUPAC, and in doing so I would like to call your attention to the fact.that IUPAC is the ultimate scientific authority in the field of pure and applied chemistry. Today, it is embracing 57 National Adhering Organizations and Observer Countries as well as 150 single chemical and/or pharmaceutical companies from Europe, the West Pacific Rim, the Americas, the Indian Ocean, and Russia, as well as the Near East and Africa.

If you look to the number of adhering organizations and observers or eventually also to the financial input into IUPAC, after Europe there is the Pacific Rim / Indian Ocean region at the second place, followed by the Americas.

It is perhaps worthwile to recall that IUPAC was founded in 1919, after the first World War, by two industrialists, i.e., Paul Kestner, le president de la Société Française de Chimie Industrielle and Sir William Pope, the president of the Society of Chemical Industry, UK. The driving force behind the creation was the globalization of the world markets, making it necessary to have globally accepted standards, codices, and nomenclature for chemicals. Today, IUPAC's objectives, as set out in our Statutes, give the union a much broader mandate, and let me also add that IUPAC is the only nongovernmental scientific union existing with its own industrial wing, i.e., our Committee on Chemistry and Industry.

Looking to our science of chemistry, we can recognize that knowledge at the molecular and also the supra- and inframolecular level is growing extremely fast; we could almost say, it is exploding. As a result, we are placed in a scenario which might eventually be portrayed by

  • growing scientific complexity
  • increasing overlap between the basic sciences biology, chemistry, and physics, as well as mathematics/informatics and
  • fast and easy access to a plethora of information.

The expansion of new knowledge is not only extending toward so-called own ends like, e.g.,

  • novel catalytic procedures
  • new insights into the chemistry of noncovalent bonds or into
  • ferntochemistry

to name a few, but is also leading to a rapid penetration of chemistry

  • into biology and medicine, where increasingly problems are addressed at the molecular level, not only by chemists, but to a very large extent by our colleagues in biology and medicine as well.
  • Chemistry is also finding its way into new materials, where physics is also required, not so much for synthesis, but for structural as well as functional characterization, and
  • into the environment, where we should always also focus on chemistry offering very efficient novel analytical tools as well as solutions, certainly not for all, but for some of our environmental problems.

In order to be able to take advantage of this breadth, researchers and teachers at all levels are required to furnish the young generation with a solid scientific knowledge base. It is crystal-clear that apart from mathematics/informatics, I take the two together, a solid and early-on starting education in the three basic experimental sciences, i.e., biology, chemistry, and physics (in alphabetical order), is urgently required, in almost all countries on our globe. All the four sciences mentioned are part and parcel of a modern educational culture allowing the young generation to find their own and creative pathway.

Only scientific education allows us to increase the very low public scientific awareness we are confronted with today, and to disclose that science is not a threat but an opportunity, and at the same time unveil that novel products, brought about by translation of new knowledge into marketable entities, are not primarily risky and costly, but could be better assessed by focusing on their value. But the last issue might eventually not be so much a problem for you here in Thailand, but eventually more for some of the European and North American countries.

Science, and I am afraid to say that we have to repeat this, is part and parcel of our culture and welfare. Focusing on the origins of welfare, it can be said that it all starts out with educational schemes taking into account the rapidly growing importance of the sciences. It is upon the results of such an educational framework

  • that basic research programs can be placed, running at universities,
  • that novel products can be brought about, in industrial discovery and development departments, and
  • that subsequent global marketing of successful products can take place, triggering an upswing in economy.

It is by scientific education, and I don't have to mention that financing of it is a governmental task, that we can enter this circle.

In concluding, and I hope that I was able to make a case for the sciences being an essential part of modern education, let me recall the short formula used by Benjamin Franklin in August 1750 characterizing his view about education of gifted students.

"Genius without education is like silver in the mine",

Let's try to unearth some of the more important assets of humankind. I thank you most cordially for your attention.

Prof. Albert E. Fischli, Ph.D.
IUPAC President

Basle, November 3, 1997

Back to Phuket'97 index


 Page last modified 16 April 1999.
Copyright ©1997, 98, 99 International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.
Questions or comments about IUPAC, please contact, the Secretariat.
Questions regarding the website, please contact Web Help.