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IUPAC-AAPAC Joint Meeting on Chemistry in the Development of Africa
Durban, Republic of South Africa, 11 July 1998



Introductory Remarks
IUPAC and Chemistry in Developing Countries

by Prof. Dr. Joshua Jortner
President, IUPAC


IUPAC's International Role: A Scientific and Moral Responsibility

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) is a scientific international, nongovernmental, objective and authoritative body which addresses global issues involving the chemical sciences. IUPAC is unique in that it is both a scientific and a mission-oriented international union. In keeping with present trends, IUPAC's mission and functions will increasingly involve, among other things, responses to:

  • The globalization of the scientific-technological endeavor
  • Recent advances and changes in science and technology
  • The challenges of the mission-oriented service of chemistry to meet mankind's needs.

I welcome this opportunity to take a broad view, probing the goals, objectives, long-term strategies and activities of IUPAC as presented in the IUPAC Strategic Plan for 1998. One of its overarching issues is rooted in a single word in our Union's title: "International." In particular, what joint scientific, mission-oriented and moral commitments does IUPAC have to ensure that all the members of the world chemistry community and their countrymen, share in the knowledge, excitement, contributions and benefits of the modern chemical sciences?

This question assumes particular importance when addressing the special problems and opportunities of chemistry in developing countries (DCs), where the needs are most critical, but local chemistry research capacity and infrastructure are most constrained. Thus, the IUPAC Strategic Plan for 1998 explicitly states, as Long-Range Goal 5:

IUPAC will promote the service of chemistry to society in both developed and developing countries.

    The strategic thrusts designed to achieve these goals specifically include as an example, IUPAC's series of international conferences on Chemical Research Applied to World Needs Conferences (CHEMRAWN), which make a central contribution to the global issues of chemistry and society. Since 1971, these conferences have provided IUPAC an important mechanism for transcending pure science to address issues with important socio-political components. The next CHEMRAWN XII CONFERENCE ON AFRICAN FOOD SECURITY AND NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT - NEW SCIENTIFIC FRONTIERS, to be held in Nairobi, Kenya in 1999, pertains to these central issues.

    IUPAC can also make a major contribution to DC education in the chemical sciences, as stated in IUPAC's long-range goals:

IUPAC will utilize its global perspectives to contribute towards the enhancement of education in chemistry.

    Indeed, the developed world has a major responsibility to help develop the scientific, educational and professional training infrastructure in DCs. IUPAC already pursues professional training programs in chemistry in developing countries, in fruitful collaboration with UNESCO.

    IUPAC also seeks to directly foster the development of the chemical sciences in DCs. In many cases, IUPAC's initiative and scientific expertise have been leveraged with outside financial resources to produce valuable results. UNESCO's support of the UNESCO-UNIDO-IUPAC Program in Chemical Safety is one recent example.

    The global progress of the chemical sciences and their future practical contributions to society depend on harnessing the best minds and efforts mankind can provide in both the developed and the developing world. We cannot afford to squander the human intellectual resources lost in nations which can not themselves provide the means, environment and richness of domestic and international contacts required for the full realization of their scientists' talents and their service to society.

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