Tuesday, 11 January 2011

IYC launched in Belgium

The International Year of Chemistry 2011 (IYC 2011) was launched in Belgium today (11 January) with Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme and some 150 representatives from the country's chemical community. The Belgian programme of activities for IYC 2011 was inaugurated at an event held at the Royal Academy for Science and the Arts adjacent to the Royal Palace in central Brussels. The launch was organised by the Belgian National Committee for Chemistry and Essenscia - the Belgian chemical industry body.

The rational and programme for IYC 2011 in Belgium was outlined by Wouter De Geest of BASF and president of Essenscia, Yves Verschueren of Essenscia and Dr. Paul Baekelmans of Solvay and President of the Belgian National Committee for Chemistry. Dr. Baekelmans is also national coordinator for IUPAC and IYC 2011 in Belgium.

The Belgian programme has two main aims: to promote chemistry as a provider of innovation and sustainable solutions for the challenges facing society; and to engage with young people to ensure that sustainable future is achieved.

Belgium faces a particular demographic issue for chemistry in the near future with at least 25 000 new skilled personnel needed by 2017 in Flanders (northern Belgium) alone to replace current workers who will be retiring. During late February and early March a series of events will focus on young people with demonstration lectures and other initiatives organised in both main language communities.

The weekend of May 21-22 will also see chemical sites across the country open their doors to the general public.

Value of chemistry
The value of chemistry to the Belgian economy was underlined by Prime Minister Leterme (above - image ©Lieven Van Assche/essenscia) who said it made a significant contributions to exports and some 50% of all Belgian R&D spending was in chemistry. The chemical and related sectors employ around 17% of the national workforce or 92 000 individuals.

The Belgian postal service is producing a special stamp for IYC 2011 that will be on sale from 17 January. The design (above - image ©Lieven Van Assche/essenscia), by graphic artist Thierry Mordant, was presented by revealed by Koen Van Gerven of bpost and unvieled by Prime Minister Leterme and essenscia president Wouter De Geest.

The launch ended - literally - with a bang thanks to a quick chemistry demonstration undertaken by a member of staff from the Technopolis Science Centre in Mechelen.

The launch event was followed by a lunchtime drinks reception.

RSC Belgium was represented at the launch event by section secretary Dr. Ian Carson and membership secretary Tim Reynolds. RSC Belgium member Catherine Feore was also present in her role as Policy Manager for EuCheMS.

More information
Details of planned events organised by Essenscia in Belgium for IYC 2011 can be found at their dedicated website (in French or Flemish only).

For more details of RSC Belgium's IYC 2011 programme see details posted on this blog site or contact Ian Carson. RSC Belgium's IYC 2011 programme kicks of with our first Cafe Chimique on 27 January at the Espace 53 bistro in AutoWorld, Brussels. See you there!

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