SPEECH - On the Opening Ceremony of ICPAC 2014 by the University of Mauritius
Title:Crystallising Ideas, The Role of Chemistry.
AT Hotel Sofitel Mauritius Imperial Resort & Spa, Flic en Flac
23rd JUNE 2014 FROM 10.00 hrs to 12.00 hrs.
Pro-Chancellor of University of Mauritius, Professor Soodursun Jugessur
Vice-Chancellor of University of Mauritius, Professor R.Mohee
Representatives of Ministries, Directors and Heads of Institutions
Deputy Director-General of Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ambassador Grace Asirwatham
Members of the Advisory Committee of the Conference and Organising Committee
Distinguished guests and students;
I had the privilege to be here for the ICPAC 2012 and today, I am once again very pleased to be here for the opening of the Third International Conference: ICPAC 2014.I am pleased to note that invited speakers from the , from Germany, Malaysia, South Africa , UK and India will be presenting papers at this conference.
This year’s theme which is about “Crystallising Ideas: The Role of Chemistry” is quite fitting as the year 2014 has been declared as the International year of Crystallography by the United Nations to celebrate the centenary of the discovery of X-ray crystallography. The aimisto emphasise the global importance of crystallography in human life.I should also like to mention that this year we areequally celebrating the 50th anniversary of NobelLaureate Dorothy Hodgkin who distinguished herself for her work on Vitamin B12 and penicillin.
In its resolution on the International year of Crystallography, the United Nations resolution points out that education about and the application of crystallography are critical in addressing challenges such as diseases and environmental problems, by providing protein and small molecule structures suited for drug design essential for medicine and public health, as well as solutions for plant and soil contamination.
It underlined that the impact of crystallography is present everywhere in our daily lives, in modern drug development, nanotechnology and biotechnology, and underpins the development of all new materials, from toothpaste to aero plane components.
Governments have been invited to promote actions at all levels aimed at increasing awareness among the public of the importance of crystallography and promoting widespread access to new knowledge and to crystallography activities.
This conference is one such action and I expect that other initiatives will be taken by the tertiary education institutions, the Mauritius Research Council, students and academic staff tocreate the awareness about the relevance of crystallography in our daily lives.
From a broader perspective, we all know that Chemistry is also closely linked to the economy. According to a report commissioned by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), industries reliant on chemistry contributed an astonishing £258 billion to the UK economy in 2007 - equivalent to 21% of UK GDP and supported six million jobs, accounting for at least 15% of the UK's exported goods and attracting significant inward investment. It points out that one in every five pounds in the UK economy is dependent on developments in chemistry research, In the USA, it is reported that the business of chemistry is one of America’s largest industries, with turnover of $770 billion.
We have in Mauritius 317 enterprises producing wearing apparel, and wood and paper products, all using chemical products and processes. The competitiveness of these enterprises depend on new processes and improved products as well as greener technology.
It is acknowledged that there is need for more research and more publications from researchers in the field of chemistry. I am pleased to state that we are considering new centres which will offer new opportunities for research in chemistry. A project for the setting up of a Centre for Nanotechnology is being finalized and this is an area which involves chemical analysis of nanomaterials, such as different conductivity, optical sensitivity, and reactivity would be relevant.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my conviction that research in this field is a priority. In this context, research projects with universities would contribute immensely in improving our knowledge. Among other subjects of science, chemistry is about the study of everything that contains mass and occupies space. Chemistry has a great impact on our daily life that it is impossible to live without. Chemical crystallography may be used to combinations of both chemical and biological interest including pharmaceuticals, natural products and chemical catalysts. It is crucial that opportunities and programmes are developed to promote the importance of crystallography.
Developing countries such as Africa, Asia and Latin America can benefit from crystallography for their scientific and industrial development.We need to mobilise financial resources and significant investment is needed for research in science and technology. Science and technology based industry should be identified as a major source of economic growth and a means of addressing key social issues.
It is also a pleasure for me to announce that in 2013, two candidates were selected from Mauritius to attend the Lindau Laureates Meetingin the field of Chemistry where young scientists from all over the world met and interacted with Nobel Laureates. This followed the suggestion made by Prof Robert Huber, Nobel Laureate when he attended the ICPAC 2012.
I would like to thank the University of Mauritius and the International Conference on Pure and Applied Chemistry 2014 (ICPAC) for the initiative to organise this special event.
I invite all the researchers and students to draw full benefit from this Conference and have the pleasure to declare this conference open.
I thank you for your attention and wish you all a fruitful and enlightening session.