International Conference on Biodiversity and Bioresources - Conservation
Phuket, Thailand, 23-27 November 1997
Welcome in Phuket,
Monday November 24,
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
- fast and easy access to a plethora of
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
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,
- 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
- that basic research programs can be placed,
running at universities,
- that novel products can be brought
about, in industrial discovery and development departments,
- 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
"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.
Albert E. Fischli, Ph.D.
Basle, November 3, 1997