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Vol. 25 No. 1
January - February 2003

Pieter S. Steyn
IUPAC President 2002-2003

President's Column

It’s my privilege to wish members of IUPAC bodies, fellows, affiliates, and our highly esteemed company associates an enjoyable and satisfying 2003. We always have great expectations at the beginning of a new year, and 2003 will be no different, with its unique challenges and opportunities. I am highly indebted to you, the members of the IUPAC family, for your outstanding contributions and voluntary work on behalf of the goals and ideals of the Union. From its contribution to a sound understanding of the molecular processes involved in post-genomic chemistry to an explanation of the physical phenomena influencing the design and properties of nanomaterials, chemistry is truly the core science. The fact that we are equipped with the physical tools enabling us to study these conundrums makes these very interesting times.


IUPAC must continue to serve the needs of chemists at both the fundamental and applied level . . .


A year ago I referred to the task group headed by Dr. Ed Przybylowicz to revisit the Strategic Plan of IUPAC. With the benefit of input from the IUPAC family and the National Adhering Organizations, the task group compiled a succinct Vision Statement and a new Mission Statement. It also reduced the previous 10 Long-Range Goals to 6. The IUPAC Bureau is unanimous in its support of the new strategy, made public for the first time in this issue of Chemistry International. It is, in fact, very much in line with the plan adopted in 1997. In the future all of our actions will be aligned with and in support of this new strategy.

Take a look at the first goal: IUPAC will provide leadership as a worldwide scientific organization that objectively addresses global issues involving the chemical sciences. It is a direct reflection of the strategic change at IUPAC that led to the transition from a commission-driven organization to one focused on the effective execution of projects of broad international interest. I am delighted by the progress already reported and in the adoption of modern electronic communication technology, especially the Internet, in the execution of IUPAC business. The Project Committee (Professor Jack Lorimer, chairman) and the Evaluation Committee (Professor Gerhard Schneider, chairman) now ensure the effectiveness and quality of IUPAC operations. In addition, sound management procedures are in place to ensure that IUPAC funding is effectively utilized. Never content with the status quo, however, IUPAC has established a new task group, led by Vice President Leiv Sydnes, to focus on governance at the Bureau, Executive Committee, and Council level. I expect that some proposals may be put forth at the August Council meeting in Ottawa.

IUPAC’s new strategy was put to work this past year providing scientific advice to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in its advisory role to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) of the United Nations. A workshop held in Bergen, Norway, was a resounding success and culminated in a report that was presented to the director general of the OPCW and to all national authorities. IUPAC’s report should help the OPCW and its States Parties to prepare for the First Review Conference in 2003. The full proceedings of the CWC Workshop, including the report to the OPCW, will appear in the December 2002 issue of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

The partnership between SCOPE (Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment) of ICSU (the International Council for Science) and IUPAC led to the undertaking of a major project on Environmental Implications of Endocrine Active Substances: Present State of the Art and Future Research Needs. At the International Symposium on Endocrine Active Substances held in Yokohama, Japan, early in November 2002, topics ranged from the Molecular Mode of Action of Nuclear Receptors to the Effects of Endocrine Active Substances in Wildlife Species. The meeting, which was chaired by Dr. Junshi Miyamoto, past president of IUPAC Division VI, Chemistry and the Environment, gathered world experts in this crucial area of environmental risk.

I am delighted by the focus of the Committee on Chemistry Education on the teaching of chemistry at school and tertiary levels as well as on the public understanding of chemistry. The newly created Division of Chemical Nomenclature and Structural Representation is now fully functional and supports our leadership role in the language of chemistry.

IUPAC must continue to serve the needs of chemists at both the fundamental and applied level, and in that regard it is particularly satisfying to note the efforts of Dr. Alan Hayes (IUPAC past president) and the officers of the Committee on Chemistry and Industry. These efforts have led to new terms of reference for COCI, and IUPAC is now much better positioned to serve the needs of the chemical industry.

I invite all chemists to participate in the 39th IUPAC Congress and the 86th Conference of the Canadian Society for Chemistry <www.iupac2003.org>. This important event, dedicated to Chemistry at the Interfaces, will take place during August 2003 in Ottawa, and is concurrent with the IUPAC General Assembly. At the meeting, nine future leaders of chemistry will be awarded the IUPAC Prize for Young Chemists. The deadline for the 2003 Prize is 1 February 2003; details can be found at <www.iupac.org/news/prize.html>. I again appeal to young chemists to get involved in the new IUPAC; we place great value upon your ideas, energy, and commitment.

Pieter S. Steyn <psst@sun.ac.za> is the current IUPAC president and has been involved with the Union since 1973. He is director of the Division of Research Development of the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.


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