Guest Speaker: Bernard West, International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

Bernard West, representing the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), began with a warning of the possibly of his use of a great number of acronyms in his presentation about the work of the IUPAC.
The organization will be marking its 100th anniversary in 2019 with celebrations to be held in Paris next year. Discussions about developing such an organization began in the 1860’s but it was not an official organization until 1917.
The organization has two main roles: First it has responsibility for the worldwide language of chemistry, both pure and applied.  As such, it is responsible for the nomenclature, terminology, and standards of chemical language. It is also involved in the critical evaluation of chemical data.  Its second major role is for chemical education and capacity building, especially working in developing countries.
IUPAC has an annual budget of only $1.3 million; there are affiliated organizations in 100 countries; it works with hundreds of volunteers but has a secretariat of only 5 members located in the USA.  It works with other organizations such as UNESCO and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons as well as working with industry.
IUPAC’s projects have included:
Safety Training Program which is dedicated to building a safety culture in various countries: typically fellows go to a host country for a two to three week training period in volunteer organizations and then they return to their home countries where they conduct workshops with other individuals and organizations in the same field the home countries. It is estimated that the reach of the fellows is approximately 10,000 individuals in the home countries.
Responsible Care Ethic is another principal project.  It represents a change from the older ethic of care which had the aim of meeting legal requirements and which downplayed public concerns about chemicals, etc.  Replaced by the current responsible care ethic which aims to “do the right thing and be seen to be doing the right thing.”, it now seeks and addresses public concerns; works for mutual aid and responds to peer pressure; and understands and meets social responsibility. Mr. West gave the example of holding a workshop at a surfactant company with which he has been associated; among the results was spreading information to the local community about what surfactant companies do. This change is the result of a Canadian initiative.
Another initiative of his work has been sponsoring the writing of book which is soon to be published: Responsible Care: a Case Study which gives extensive detail on three studies relating to this ethic.
Among IUPAC’s centennial initiatives is to name 2019 as the United Nations International Year of the Periodic Table. This would be an appropriate honour since IUPAC with the Physics Union verifies and validates new elements for the periodic table.
Ron W thanked Bernard West for his presentation by saying that science is often left to the experts and today’s presentation has highlighted the important work of this vital organization.


Next week’s speaker Bronwyn Best: Business Ethics