Optics leaders from around the world had the privilege to be invited to present the aims and organization of the International Year of Light to representatives from United Nations Member States and UNESCO at an Information Meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 16 May. The meeting was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations. It was Mexico, along with Ghana, New Zealand and the Russian Federation that submitted the International Year of Light proposal to the UNESCO Executive board in 2012 which led to its adoption with over 30 more countries as cosignatories.
The delegation of senior researchers consisted of Ana María Cetto from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Yanne Chembo Kouomou from the African Physical Society, John Dudley, President of the European Physical Society, Anthony M. Johnson, Past-President of OSA and representative of ICTP, and H. Philip Stahl, President-Elect of SPIE. During the Information Meeting, the delegation members described in detail the goals and activities of the International Year of Light, focusing especially on the role that optics and photonics can play 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 diverse other areas from art to philosophy.
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. As Delegation member John Dudley explained "An International Year of Light is a tremendous opportunity to ensure that international policymakers and stakeholders are made aware of the problem-solving potential of light technology. Photonics provides practical and cost-effective solutions to challenges in so many different areas: energy, sustainable development, climate change, health and agriculture.” The International Year of Light already has UNESCO endorsement, and this Information Meeting has now set in place the procedure towards adoption by the United Nations General Assembly.
Ana María Cetto
EPS web page of the International Year of Light
Left: Delegation members Yanne Chembo Kouomou, Anthony M. Johnson and John M. Dudley in committee with Ambassador Yanerit Morgan, Deputy Permanent Representative of Mexico to the UN. Right: The delegation during their visit to the UN General Assembly Chamber (H. Philip Stahl, John M. Dudley, Anthony M. Johnson, Ana María Cetto, Yanne Chembo Kouomou). © EPS - J. Dudley