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United Nations announces International Year of Light

Published: 14 January 2014

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly 68th Session has proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015).

The initiative of a large consortium of scientific bodies together with UNESCO, this International Year recognizes the importance of raising global awareness of how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health.

ILY 2015 will bring together many different stakeholders including scientific societies and unions, educational institutions, technology platforms, non-profit organizations and private sector partners.

The United Nations declares only a very small number of International Years, and it does so to raise international awareness of issues that both resonate with the public and which are at the same time of critical importance for the future of the planet. The purpose of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies is to promote the many ways that Light impacts on the lives of all of us, and it will provide a unique opportunity for the scientific community involved in light science to engage with new communities at both the public and the political level.

The UN Resolution noted the importance of photonic technologies for the future development of global society and for addressing challenges such as sustainable development, energy and community health, as well as for improving the quality of life in both developed and developing countries.

The need to provide access to information and the role of optical fibre are particularly stressed with the achievements of Charles Kao in developing practical fibre transmission in 1965 noted as a key anniversary to be celebrated during the year-long celebrations of 2015.

Professor Sir David Payne, Director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre said: “I had the privilege of collaborating with Charles Kao early in my career: he has been a great inspiration to me. This resolution recognizes the enormous importance of his work and provides the international photonics community with a superb opportunity to make a step-change advance in global awareness of the solutions that photonics technologies can provide”

As a prominent photonics Institute, the ORC will take a full role in the global celebrations and in planning of events.

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