Vice President's critical Assessment - 1999
> Chemical Industry
> National Adhering Organizations (NAOs)
> Standing Committees
> UN Agencies
In considering the ground which I should and am able to cover in my
Vice President's Critical Assessment, several factors needed to be weighed.
The most important was that Prof. Joshua Jortner conducted an excellent
and wide-ranging VPCA which in particular was a penetrating analysis
of how the scientific work of the Union was carried out, and perhaps
more importantly, considered what were the challenges facing the Chemical
Sciences and what should be IUPAC's contribution to the development
of Chemical Science in the 21st Century, and how the whole process of
IUPAC's scientific work, and thus its effectiveness, could be improved.
Prof. Jortner's VPCA led to the establishment of the Strategy Development
and Implementation Committee (SDIC) and all that flowed from it, including
the IUPAC Strategic Plan; restructuring and reform of the scientific
activities into a task-oriented, time defined set of projects, without
jettisoning the necessary appropriate considerations of experience and
With all this still taking up much effort and readjustment, it would
have been duplicative and plainly inadequate for the present VPCA to
visit this ground.
Just one comment may be appropriate: my view is that the way the Union
has accepted the need for change and tackled the present exercise gives
it great credit and has generated a good deal of admiration amongst
many of our critics and other international unions.
What, then, remains to be done? After discussion with my colleagues
on the Executive Committee, it was agreed that my VPCA should cover:
- The relationships between the Union and:
the Chemical Industry;
the NAOs, National and Regional Chemical Societies;
the UN Agencies.
- Review the Union's Standing Committees.
It is often said that chemistry is the only scientific subject which
is directly applied in a major global industry. Yet when looking at
the linkages between the industry and the profession at an international
level, they are not perhaps as strong as may be mutually beneficial,
especially in the global conditions which now confront both the Industry
and the Science.
The Industry has well-resourced, effective Trade Associations which
represent industry interests in the national, and in some instances,
regional areas very effectively. Typical examples are the CMA (Chemical
Manufacturers' Association, USA), VCI (Verband der Chemischen Industrie,
Germany), CIA (Chemical Industries Association, UK) etc. and CEFIC (Association
of European Chemical Trade Associations, Europe). In recent years the
industry has formed an international co-ordinating committee, ICCA (International
Council of Chemical Associations), which meets twice a year to consider
matters of global significance.
On the face of it, the way in which Chemical Societies and Trade Associations
relate should be simple i.e.:
National Chemical Societies
|National Trade Associations
National Chemical Societies
|Regional Trade Associations
However nothing in life is ever simple, and one of the complicating
factors is that in this age of globalization, many issues have a global
dimension e.g. toxicology, environmental impact, so that it is often
not possible satisfactorily to deal with a problem on a national, or
even regional basis, either from a trade or regulatory point of view.
The work of the Committee on Chemistry and Industry (COCI), especially
in its safety seminars and producing the special issues of Pure and
Applied Chemistry on Chlorine and on Environmental Oestrogens has been
noted, but is sometimes seen as a series of one-off involvements.
During this year, I have held discussions with the Presidents and/or
Directors General of several Trade Associations e.g. CMA, CEFIC, CIA
and the following points seem undisputed:
- Under no circumstances do IUPAC or the Trade Associations envisage
IUPAC representing the industry in any forum.
- Many problems faced by the industry pose dangers to the public
perception of chemistry and science. Society in general is particularly
sensitive to how such problems are handled.
- There is a perceived need by governments, as well as chemists and
industry, for a sound, trusted scientific base to be laid, upon which
debate of an issue should take place.
- It could be helpful to all if a well-respected, independent body,
such as IUPAC, were to lay such a scientific base, or validate one
laid by some other body.
- If IUPAC were to be seen to fulfil such a role, then the Union
would become more visible to the senior levels of industry management
(and even some of its working scientists) and thus be better regarded.
- There is a need to identify projects where this hypothesis could
At the recent meeting of ICCA in Prague (two meetings per year are
held: at the autumn meeting Presidents and Directors General attend)
two projects were agreed, viz.: the toxicological investigation of all
bulk-produced chemicals which have not been through a modern type toxicological
evaluation; and a research project, funded at the rate of $2 million
p.a., as to how chemicals react with factors in the environment to produce
It has been agreed that these subjects could be suitable for IUPAC/ICCA
co-operation and to this end, Dr. John Jost and I attended an Executive
meeting of the ICCA in Brussels in April 1999. We made a presentation
about IUPAC, its structure, operations, and strategic objectives. The
reasons why IUPAC feels that collaboration and co-operation should be
increased were presented.
After a very constructive discussion, it was readily agreed by the
ICCA that there should indeed be closer links between the two organizations.
The ICCA project on Long Range Research was identified as the best vehicle
for a pilot project. The Vice President and the Executive Director are
now following this up with the relevant people in the ICCA. Other international
Trade Associations in the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries
have been contacted and will be followed up.
If these projects go ahead, it would be prudent to consider what structure
should be created in IUPAC to manage/co-ordinate the Union's interface
with industry. COCI does an excellent job but was not set up with this
in mind. In fact the whole question of how the Union manages, co-ordinates
and allocates resources to those areas not covered by the normal Divisional
or Committee activities merits further development (see later).
National Adhering Organizations (NAOs)
We are all well used to the situation where the bodies which constitute
the majority of IUPAC membership are the National Academies of Science
(or their equivalent), in fact such bodies constitute 26 out of 43 members.
In the other cases, the NAO is the National Chemical Society.
Those countries which are represented by a National Academy usually
have what is essentially a "National Committee for IUPAC", however named,
which co-ordinates the views of interested parties (whether individual
or representing various societies) which then help to form that country's
attitude toward IUPAC proposals. The membership and representation of
various societies on these committees varies widely from country to
country. In some places, senior officers of the National Chemical Society
attend and play an active part, whereas in others, only those active
in the various IUPAC Commissions, Committees and Divisions are involved.
There is no doubt that keeping the various National Academy of Sciences
informed of what IUPAC is doing and can do, is an important issue. In
addition, in many cases the national dues are routed through the National
Academy by the National Government, so it would be imprudent to sever
all contact with these important bodies.
The IUPAC Council is, of course, the forum where the NAOs participate
in the policy approval and also give legitimacy to the delegation of
specific authority to the Bureau, Executive and the Finance Committee
The effect of globalization has accelerated over the past few years
and many National Chemical Societies have given increased attention
to international issues, especially on a regional basis, because of
the impact on publications on a global canvas.
Although it is obviously right that scientific issues should be discussed
in the Divisions, Commissions, and Committees, there are several other
policy and resource allocation issues which have been accentuated by
the Strategic Plan, addressing as it does several areas which have never
been recognized as part of IUPAC's mission before (help towards developing
nations in creating a sustainable chemical industry, education and training
in several differing circumstances, public image of science especially
chemistry, relationships with industry, etc.), which would benefit from
the establishment of a closer coupling between IUPAC and the National
Chemical Societies (NCS). In addition, with the new arrangements for
the identification of topics to be worked upon in the Union and their
implementation, together with the need to staff the new "project teams"
with the right people, closer co-operation between IUPAC and NCS should
be mutually beneficial. It should also help to raise awareness of what
the Union is doing in the NCS. Such closer cooperation should at one
level involve the senior officers of both IUPAC and the NCS at suitable
intervals, and the forthcoming Presidents' meeting at the Berlin General
Assembly would seem to offer an ideal opportunity to discuss this topic.
The co-operation could then be taken on in the context of the policy
basis agreed, by the various committees in the NCS which deal with IUPAC
or "International" matters.
The concept outlined above should not give rise to any conflict of
interest between IUPAC relationships with the NAOs and the NCS.