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


by John M. Malin, Ph. D.
International Activities Administrator
American Chemical Society

Comments by Prof. Joshua Jortner, President of IUPAC on the strategy of IUPAC to serve the global chemistry community.

In welcoming all present, Professor Jortner explained that IUPAC's mission will increasingly involve concentration on the globalization of the scientific-technological endeavor and on recent advances in science and technology. He added that IUPAC will respond to the challenges in the mission-oriented service of chemistry to meet mankind's needs.

Prof. Jortner outlined IUPAC's five-point plan for development in the 21st century. IUPAC will work to strengthen access in developing countries to information and research networks in chemistry and related fields, to build capacity of developing countries for chemical research, to enhance human educational resources in developing countries, to foster the abilities of developing countries to adapt recent scientific and technological advances to local conditions and needs, and to augment cooperation with regional scientific academies in developing countries.

Prof. Jortner noted that solutions to African problems must be urgently sought, given the impetus of globalization, scientific and technological advances, new information technology and burgeoning population growth. He pointed out that scientists in developing countries will count increasingly on advances in electronic communication that can dramatically reduce the geographic and political barriers, isolation and fragmentation that have hampered them in the past. He noted that the keys to success will be found in obtaining needed equipment, training, useful contacts, functioning access to electronic networks, databases and publications, and long-term maintenance and support of networks and equipment.

Prof. Jortner suggested that IUPAC can contribute by helping African chemical scientists to formulate and prioritize their own needs, to emphasize institutional capacity including management and maintenance, to establish long term inter-institutional relationships rather than "hit and run" short term studies and assistance, and to realize the potential for increased regional and sub-regional cooperation.

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