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Societies Applaud Year of Light Progress

Photonics.com
Jun 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C., & BELLEVUE, Wash., June 12, 2013 — Progress is being made in having 2015 declared the International Year of Light by the United Nations, international optics and photonics leaders report. 

The informational meeting with representatives from UN member states and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), held May 16 in New York, has set in place the procedure toward adoption of the initiative by the full UN general assembly, which is anticipated for later this year.

At the meeting, a delegation of leaders, including the Optical Society's (OSA) CEO Elizabeth Rogan and SPIE President-Elect Philip Stahl, described the goals and activities of the International Year of Light (IYOL), focusing on the role that optics and photonics plays in addressing issues of sustainable development and in promoting science education. They also considered emerging applications in archaeology and cultural heritage, and described the cross-cutting nature of the Year of Light themes in areas as diverse as art and philosophy. 

"The optics and photonics community certainly knows of the importance of light and light-based technology," said Dr. Stahl, a member of the IYOL advisory board. "Light underpins the world economy, enables a sustainable future, offers tremendous advances in human health and medicine, and inspires us to appreciate the beauty of our natural world and human culture. But these contributions are often invisible to the policy makers of the world and the general public. The UN declaring an International Year of Light willl help make light more visible and increase its appreciation."

The delegation also included Ana María Cetto from the National Autonomous University of Mexico; John Dudley, president of the European Physical Society (EPS); Anthony M. Johnson, OSA past president and representative of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics; and Yanne Chembo Kouomou from the African Physical Society.

“Light is an enabling technology that provides us with endless possibilities and stunning applications in the fields of medicine, biophotonics, communications and energy, as well as exciting emerging applications in the analysis and preservation of civilizations and history,” Johnson said. “Sharing this critical information with the world is a worthy imperative indeed.”

An important outcome of the meeting was the decision to ensure that the International Year of Light highlights both the science and the technological applications of light, emphasizing the key role of photonics as an enabling technology to solve problems of global concern.

“The International Year of Light will help communicate the importance of light and optical technologies in our everyday lives and future growth around the world,” said OSA CEO Elizabeth Rogan, who also serves on the IYOL advisory board. “OSA applauds our industry peers in the progress being made toward widespread adoption of the initiative, and we stand ready to support further activities in the coming months.”

"Through this action, the United Nations has joined in advocacy of the profound importance of light in every facet of life," said SPIE CEO 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 resource management, and other vital areas."

An important outcome of the meeting was the decision to ensure that the IYOL highlights both the science and the technological applications of light, emphasizing the key role of photonics as an enabling technology to solve problems of global concern.
The initiative is supported by a growing number of partner societies, commissions and centers, including EPS, the American Physical Society, the Institute of Physics, the International Commission on Optics, and many others.

From SPIE, Arthurs and Stahl have served on the international advisory board for the IYOL steering committee along with SPIE Immediate Past President Eustace Dereniak (University of Arizona), SPIE 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 IYOL steering committee.

Mexico, Ghana, New Zealand and the Russian Federation, along with more than 30 countries as cosignatories, submitted the IYOL proposal to the UNESCO executive board late last year, which led to UNESCO's official adoption of it in October 2012 (See: UN Committee Endorses International Year of Light in 2015).

For more information, visit: http://www.eps.org/?page=event_iyol  


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