Washington, DC and Bellingham, WA--Both the Optical Society (OSA) and SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, praised a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) decision to adopt a resolution declaring 2015 the International Year of Light (IYOL). The Executive Board of UNESCO, which consists of member countries Ghana, Mexico, New Zealand, and the Russian Federation, adopted the resolution October 18 at its 190th session in Paris. The adoption by UNESCO paves the way for approval by the full United Nations general assembly.
The proposal was recently introduced to the UNESCO board by SPIE Fellow Paul Buah-Bassuah (Laser and Fibre Optics Centre, University of Cape Coast) of Ghana and representatives from Mexico, the Russian Federation, and New Zealand on behalf of a global partnership of more than 40 scientific societies, academies, and other institutions, in collaboration with the UNESCO International Basic Sciences Programme (IBSP). SPIE and OSA are both members of the partnership.
The IYOL initiative (www.eps.org/?page=event_iyol) has been in development since 2009 under the leadership of the European and African Physical Societies. With the UNESCO endorsement, organizers will outline activities for 2015 along with a formal request to the United Nations (U. N.) General Assembly, which will make a final declaration, expected late next year.
"We are very pleased that UNESCO has supported the resolution for the International Year of Light," said OSA CEO Elizabeth Rogan, who serves on the International Year of Light’s Advisory Board. "Having the support of a prestigious body like UNESCO will help raise global awareness of the importance of optics and photonics. OSA looks forward to participating to increase public understanding of light-based technologies and advance our vibrant field with this program."
"Through this action, UNESCO has joined in advocacy of the profound importance of light in every facet of life," said SPIE Executive Director Eugene Arthurs. "SPIE is continually working to raise awareness of photonics technology, the many high-value jobs it creates, its numerous applications that already have revolutionized our world, and future applications that will solve pressing problems in communications, healthcare, food and water source management, and other vital areas."
Arthurs serves on the international advisory board for the IYOL Steering Committee along with SPIE President Eustace Dereniak (University of Arizona), SPIE Immediate Past President Katarina Svanberg (Lund University Hospital), and SPIE Fellow Maria Calvo (Universidad Complutense de Madrid). SPIE Member Angela Guzman (Florida Atlantic University) and SPIE Fellow Chris Dainty (National University of Ireland) serve on the steering committee.
In addition to the Executive Board support, other co-signatories of the resolution included: Angola, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Congo, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Kenya, Indonesia, Italy, Malawi, Nigeria, Peru, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Thailand, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. Other Member States of UNESCO who declared support for the initiative were Hungary, Serbia and South Africa.
IMAGE: The rainbow occupies a central place in cultures throughout the world, yet its beauty is even greater when the underlying science explaining its origin is appreciated--making it a natural choice as a symbol for the International Year of Light (IYOL). (Courtesy IYOL prospectus at http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.eps.org/resource/resmgr/events/EPS_IYOL_2.pdf)