International Year of Light Opening Ceremony set for Paris in January

Dec. 31, 2014
The Opening Ceremony will be held on 19-20 January 2015 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris to celebrate the start of the New Year and the International Year of Light 2015.

The Opening Ceremony will be held on 19-20 January 2015 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris to celebrate the start of the New Year and the International Year of Light 2015 (IYL 2015). It will introduce all the key themes of the year, acting as an inspiration and model for raising awareness about the importance of light-based technologies and how light provides solutions to global challenges in areas such as energy, education, communications, and health.

RELATED ARTICLE: Ways to celebrate IYL 2015

More than a thousand participants will convene in Paris for the two-day event. Speakers and attendees will include international diplomats, decision-makers, Nobel laureates, CEOs, industry leaders and engineers from around the globe. After high-level opening addresses by international political leaders, a series of keynote lectures, symposiums and round-tables will cover areas from innovative lighting solutions for society and emerging trends in the photonics industry to the history of science and science policy. The ceremony will also feature an Einstein Centenary, talks on light in art and culture and presentations on how the roles of light-based technologies address global challenges.

Cultural music performances involving light will be included in the festivities and the UNESCO Building in Paris will be lit with a light display entitled "Light is Here," by Finnish light artist Kari Kola, which will reflect the powerful elements of the Northern Lights.

Keynote speakers from the light science community will include Nobel laureates Ahmed Zewail, Steven Chu, Zhores Alferov, William Phillips and Serge Haroche, pioneering and inspiring scientists who will speak on a diverse range of topics: light and life, energy, telecommunications, and the fundamental physics of light-matter interactions.

The IEEE Photonics Society's guest luminary speaker Linda Wambune, from SunnyMoney and Solar Aid (Kenya), will give a talk on how universal access to renewable energy, through a unique mix of business innovation and enterprise, is the best way to alleviate poverty in Africa. She will present details on Solar Aid’s mission to provide access to solar lights in some of the most remote regions of the world and explain the movement to eradicate the kerosene lamp by 2020.

"The Photonics Society is well-known for its outstanding publications and technical conferences, but the International Year of Light provides us with the opportunity to showcase a different aspect of our mission… namely our educational and humanitarian initiatives. Linda's talk at the opening ceremony, Lighting up Africa, and our collaboration with Solar Aid will help us promote and expand these critical efforts," said IEEE Photonics Society Executive Director Christopher Jannuzzi.

The program will also include contributions by: Gianfranco Cardinal Ravasi (President of the Pontifical Council for Culture); renowned Mexican architect Gustavo Avilés; the CEO of Royal Philips Lighting Eric Rondolat; Harry Verhaar (President of the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association); Alessandro Farini (Expert on Human Vision and Art); Thanh-Nga Tran, (Vietnam Vascular Anomalies Center); Martin Aufmuth (from; Illac Diaz (; Andrew Forbes representing the Photonics Initiative of South Africa; Zohra Ben Lakhdar (UNESCO L’Oreal Prize Winner);and many other leading scientists and representatives from international NGOs.

"The presence of so many distinguished members of the international scientific community at the IYL 2015 Opening Ceremony exemplifies the diversity and global nature of this unique, year-long educational initiative," said IEEE Photonics Society President Dalma Novak.

SOURCE: Light 2015 website;

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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