A whole year dedicated to celebrating basic science
The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2022 to be the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD). This initiative is championed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) together with other international scientific unions and international scientific organisations across the world, covering all disciplines of basic science.
Hundreds of events will be organized under the IYBSSD umbrella. First out, after the inauguration, was IUPAP organizing its own 100th anniversary symposium at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) from 11 to 13 July. The speakers spanned from early career scientists to well-known Nobel laureates, discussing a variety of physics-related topics such as climate change, the role of physicists with regards to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons, physics education, the SI system, etc.
The webcasted ceremony hosted by UNESCO at its headquarters in Paris on 8th July was attended by some four hundred people in person and thousands of basic science supporters online: only from China 200 000 followed the celebration via YouTube. The programme included addresses from a large number of dignities, including Minister of science, technology and scientific innovation Luther Castillo Harry, on behalf of President Iris Xiomara Castro Sarmiento, President of the Republic of Honduras, and Csaba Kőrösi, President-elect of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Former CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer, now President of the SESAME Council, lead a high-level panel discussion on the role of science in decision-making processes, and there was a round table with leading scientists discussing the role of basic sciences in education, the foundations of applied sciences, disruptive discoveries, serendipity, openness and inclusiveness. Finally, there was a sessions on how basic sciences, as a public good, can serve in addressing the global challenges set out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals and on the importance and impact of investing in basic sciences.
The IYBSSD enjoys strong support in Italy. As much as four organizations based in the country have pledged their support to finance the related costs: the European Gravitational Observatory (EGO), the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), ICTP, and the National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN). Some of these have already taken part in the recent international meeting Passion for Science – Facing Global Challenges, convened by the Italian Physical Society in Varenna, which kicked off the Italian celebrations of the IYBSSD.
The aim of the year is to emphasize the important role of the basic sciences with regards to the UN Sustainable Development Goals: only through nurturing science these goals can be achieved on time. The closing ceremony, which will take stake of the achievements over the next 12 months, will take place at CERN in Geneva in October 2023.
In case you plan to organize an event, an initiative or a program that overlaps with the goals of IYBSSD 2022, you are invited to apply for an official endorsement by the Steering Committee: an endorsement will augment the visibility of the event and it will contribute to enforce the impact of the year on the society.
Jens Vigen – Senior scientific information officer at CERN and Secretary-General of the International Union for Pure and Applied Physics from 2021 to 2024.