Future Mission Goals and Function of IUPAC

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					         Future Mission, Goals and Function
         of IUPAC
The following article by President Joshua
Jortner was published as a Guest Editorial in
‘Nachrichten aus Chemie’, February 1998, the
news magazine of the Gesellschaft Deutscher

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry
(IUPAC) serves as a Scientific, international, non-gov-
ernmental and objective body in addressing the global
issues involving the chemical sciences. The future mis-
sion and function of IUPAC should rest on the principles
of the globalization of the scientific-technological en-
deavour, the response to current changes in science
and technology, the fast expansion of the boundaries of
modern chemistry and the mission oriented service of                        Professor Dr. Joshua Jortner
   IUPAC was formed in 1919 by chemists from industry
and academia. Over nearly eight decades the Union             IUPAC will represent, when appropriate, the interests of
has succeeded in fostering world-wide communications          chemistry in international governmental and non-gov-
in the chemical sciences and in uniting academic and          ernmental forums. Goals have also been established for
industrial chemistry in a common language. IUPAC has          the Union’s contributions to the advancement of world-
long been recognized as the world authority on nomen-         wide research in the chemical sciences, the promotion
clature, atomic weights and many other critically evalu-      of the service of chemistry to society (with attention to
ated data, and it continues to sponsor major                  the advancement of the chemical sciences in develop-
international meetings that range from specialized sym-       ing countries), and the facilitation of the development of
posia to CHEMRAWN meetings with societal impact.              effective channels of communication in the global
During the Cold War, IUPAC became an important in-            chemistry community. The Union feels it is important to
strument for promoting world-wide collaboration and           promote the chemical aspects of industry in its contribu-
communication among chemists.                                 tions to sustainable development, wealth creation and
   One of the hallmarks of our era is rapid political, eco-   improvement in the quality of life.
nomic, technological and scientific change. With the             The improvement of chemical education is another
major changes that have occurred world-wide in chem-          IUPAC goal. The Union recognizes that the needs of the
istry and the chemical industry, IUPAC has examined its       developed countries and the developing countries in
role as the organization principally responsible for pro-     this regard are quite different. Scientific literacy is the
motion of the chemical sciences globally. Following a         major concern in the developed world. IUPAC’s rôle is
series of meetings to obtain input from leaders in chem-      to act as a clearinghouse for information about national
istry on four continents, IUPAC has redefined its mis-        programs. Less developed countries need help and
sion and established goals and strategies to guide its        support at all levels of education and training.
approach to the shaping of the chemical sciences in a            IUPAC strives towards globalization of its activities
rapidly changing world.                                       with the participation of the entire world’s chemistry
   IUPAC’s Mission is to advance the world-wide as-           community. The broadening of the geographical base
pects of the chemical sciences and to contribute to the       will be accomplished by recruiting new National Adher-
application of chemistry to the service of Mankind. In so     ing Organizations. In addition, new mechanisms need
doing, IUPAC promotes the norms, values, standards            to be set up to insure world-wide dissemination of infor-
and ethics of science.                                        mation about IUPAC’s work and the drawing of human
   To further its Mission, IUPAC is currently establishing    capital to its activities. The Internet is seen as an oppor-
a set of long-range goals and developing strategic            tunity to greatly improve the Union’s efforts in both these
thrusts to provide guidance for the kinds of scientific       areas.
work the Union undertakes. In addition to initiating and         To carry out its scientific work (largely in nomencla-
continuing major thrusts on the activities listed above,      ture, terminology, critical data evaluation and organiza-

Chemistry International, 1998, Vol. 20, No. 1                                                                           1
tion of scientific symposia), IUPAC has, over many               tual accomplishments, scientific creativity and original-
years, developed a network of 37 Commissions. Al-                ity and the generation of new knowledge. The quality,
though an enormous amount of valuable work has been              relevance and remarkable scope of modern chemistry
produced, this relatively static structure has now be-           should preclude any ‘identity crises in chemistry’, some-
come an impediment to undertaking projects that are              times manifested in the chemistry science and educa-
widely regarded as relevant to today’s world and are             tion community regarding the future of the chemical
completed in a time-frame consistent with the fast pace          sciences as a central scientific discipline.
of modern research and industrial development. We will               I have discussed changes to the way in which IUPAC
soon propose to IUPAC’s governing bodies major                   operates to fulfil the Union’s goals and future mission.
changes that will consolidate the responsibility for initia-     The problems with which science and society are faced
tion and management of scientific projects, each of              today are complex and require a reassessment of scien-
which will be conducted by a time-limited working party.         tific policy considerations, and an implementation of
We plan to reach out to a broad international community          evolutionary changes in the function and structure of the
of chemists to help define the needs on which IUPAC              Union. IUPAC serves the international scientific en-
projects are based and to recruit the most talented              deavour in the dual function of a basic science and a
chemists world-wide to work on these projects.                   mission-oriented Union. The Union is in a unique posi-
   Chemistry historically emerged and developed as an            tion to contribute to the central interdisciplinary chemi-
interdisciplinary scientific field, with a broad definition of   cal sciences. Strengthening international chemistry,
its borders. Paraphrasing Linus Pauling’s definition of          striving towards inspiring high standards of excellence
the chemical bond ‘whatever is convenient to the chem-           and relevance in academic and industrial research and
ist to define as a bond’, chemistry can be defined as a          promoting the service of chemistry to society and to glo-
discipline encompassing all areas which are of interest          bal issues, these are the visions that shape IUPAC’s
for chemists and where molecular science makes sig-              activities towards the 21st century.
nificant contributions. The rich and diverse world of                                     Professor Dr. Joshua Jortner
modern chemistry encompasses remarkable intellec-                                                   President of IUPAC

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