[Image above] Credit: International Year of Glass
If I had to name one material I cannot imagine living without, my answer would have to be glass.
Glass helps us live safer and more sustainable lives, from offering a sound disposal method for nuclear waste to improving osseointegration of biomedical implants to allowing for high-speed internet access. Yet this material, which is key to so many applications, is often underappreciated in society and viewed only in terms of windows and kitchenware.
Educating the public about the importance of glass in modern society is a goal for many materials science organizations, but individual efforts only go so far. What if we could bring people together in a global initiative to raise awareness of this influential material?
That is the driving force behind a recent initiative spearheaded by the International Commission on Glass (ICG) to have 2022 declared the International Year of Glass.
Since 1959, the General Assembly of the United Nations has designated specific years as United Nations International Years to acknowledge fields of international endeavor and the importance of their contributions to global society. Usually, one or more Member States propose these observances, or on occasion, specialized agencies of the United Nations such as UNESCO and UNICEF may put forth a proposal. The proposal for the International Year of Glass, though, originated from a completely different source.
International Year of Glass: From conception to a thousand endorsements
The idea for an International Year of Glass was first discussed at the 2018 Fall Annual Meeting of ICG in Yokohama, Japan, per a suggestion by ACerS Distinguished Life Member David Pye. In May 2019, ICG, The Corning Museum of Glass, The American Ceramic Society, and The Glass Art Society endorsed the idea in a presentation to the Office of the United States Mission of the United Nations in New York City, which was well received.
ICG president Alicia Durán formally introduced the initiative to the ACerS community in a “Letter to the Editor” published in the September 2019 Bulletin. At the time, she noted that “Extensive planning is now underway to inform international art and scientific glass-themed societies and museums of this endeavor to secure the United Nations declaration of the 2022 International Year of Glass.”
Since then, more than 1,000 organizations and over 70 countries have expressed support for the initiative. In an email, Durán says they are now forming an international steering committee to continue working and developing the initiative, and “Fundraising campaign, proposals of activities (international and national) and spreading these activities to the planet will be some of the tasks that we can face, and solve!!”
Coming next: November presentation to the United Nations
The next big task on the way to having 2022 designated the International Year of Glass is to receive formal approval from the UN. To do that, the International Year of Glass steering committee is preparing a presentation to be given in early November to the UN General Assembly.
Agustin Santos, the Spanish Ambassador to the UN, has guided the required resolution through the General Assembly, and he will present the proposal in November through a virtual presentation. The presentation will include introducing partner organizations and personalities in the International Year of Glass project, explaining the activities planned and concepts being developed, and how they link to the UN Agenda 2030. (Get a taste for how glass aligns with the UN Agenda 2030 in the video below.)
Volkan Bozkir, the Turkish Ambassador and recently installed President of the Assembly, has already expressed his support and will do so during the presentation as well.
After the presentation, the resolution for approving the International Year will be presented at the 75th UN General Assembly planned for December 2020.
For maximum impact, in mid-October, supporting institutions of the initiative will be given the date and time to join the presentation. If you wish to become a supporting institution, you can register your interest at this link or email the steering committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow updates on the initiative on the official LinkedIn page.