Over the past 60 years, the General Assembly of the United Nations has acknowledged important fields of international endeavour and their contributions to society by declaring United Nations International Years.
The International Commission on Glass (ICG), along with the Community of Glass Associations (CGA) and the Glass Art Society (GAS) are promoting a United Nations International Year of Glass for 2022. It will underline the technological, scientific and economic importance of glass — that transparent and enabling material underpinning many of our technologies and which can facilitate the development of more just and sustainable societies to meet the challenges of globalization.
With their unparalleled versatility and technical capabilities, glassy materials have in recent decades fostered numerous cultural and scientific advancements:
- Glass is the main conduit of our knowledge-based society. Glass optical fibers have stimulated a change of paradigm that has led to a global communications revolution; they are the backbone of the internet and the associated globalization of information. Glassmakers have given us touch-sensitive glass covers for our mobile phones that revolutionized the way we communicate with each other.
- Glass is the chemically resistant container material for many of our life-saving medicines of today. This is particularly important in world’s quest in the delivery of a vaccine to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Strengthened glass container has dramatically improved the reliability of the EpiPen treatment of life-threatening anaphylaxis shock from severe allergic reactions.
- Glass sheets support solar cells and give clean energy; glass fibres reduce our carbon footprint by strengthening wind turbine blades, by insulating our homes and through carbon capture and sequestration (CCS); the vitrification of hazardous waste is increasing nuclear energy safety,
- Bioglass compositions have advanced health care with their ability to: integrate with human bone; stimulate the human body’s natural defence to heal flesh wounds; aid tissue design and regeneration; and resolve hearing and dental issues.
- Glass optics and optoelectronics have evolved so that the James Webb space telescope can now study the very first moments after the big bang and expand understanding of the Universe.
- Glass melting is being de-carbonised and glassy products are being safely recycled.
- Archaeologists are learning more about ancient trade routes and the politics of raw materials.
- Glass artists across the globe have given humankind an awareness of this wonderful material including its remarkable methods of fabrication, inherent beauty, and ability to capture and display nature’s full spectrum of colour.
In summary, glass is the transparent tool that can underpin sustainable, more developed and just societies, it is an important medium for art and its history is shared with that of humankind.
Extensive planning is now underway to make possible a UN Year of Glass in 2022, to include a kick-off meeting in Geneva, events at the ICG congress in Berlin, a worldwide congress focused in glass technology and a global art/history congress. We hope that the event will result in special issues of journals and magazines, exhibitions in museums, and public and private glass collections and universal dissemination activities at all education levels.
As part of initial planning, we have contacted with art and scientific glass-themed societies; glassmakers, fabricators and suppliers; academia, R&D centers and museums, both to share the concept and to ask for formal endorsement. Our initial aim is a successful resolution at the UN General Assembly in December 2020.
We have arrived to an agreement with UNESCO and the International Year of Basic Science for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD) to work together for our projects to be approved in the same General Assembly of UN.
Although we are facing, as the whole planet, the COVID19 pandemic, we continue working for IYOG2022, expanding the borders of our efforts to invite more and more glass players to join us.
We have now received more than 950 endorsements from 69 countries (https://we.tl/t-NfVaaILZvy), but we need to get the support of many other, particularly in Africa, the Middle East, ASEAN or Balkan regions. We are asking you for a further effort to send us the affiliation of colleagues or contacts from these or other countries. We only need the names, institution and email address. We will send them the information and ask for their endorsement.
Submission of LoEs is also possible through our website www.iyog2022.org/index where frequent news items will be posted.
Research Professor CSIC
President of the ICG