Light contributes to sustainable growth in health, agriculture, education, and energy and is a catalyst to surmounting challenges around the globe. The International Year of Light was inaugurated at the United Nations on 19 January by UNSG Ban Ki-moon at the UN Educational, Scientific and Culture Organization (UNESCO) Paris Headquarters. The UNESCO-led initiative, the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies focuses on the influence and generation of photonics, which is the science and technology of harnessing photons, or light particles for their application to daily living.
UN News Centre
The Secretary-General explained that light science has already revolutionized medicine, agriculture and energy while today’s optical technologies have become the lynchpin to the basic infrastructure of modern communications.
“As we strive to end poverty and promote shared prosperity, light technologies can offer practical solutions to global challenges,” said Mr. Ban.
“They will be particularly important in advancing progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, achieving the future sustainable development goals and addressing climate change.”
In fact, according to UNESCO, photonic technologies, which already make vital contributions towards energy generation and energy efficiency, have a “major impact” on the world economy with a current global market of almost $350 billion and a projected market value of over $700 billion in 2020.
In addition to the economic benefits, however, advancements in research now mean photonic technologies can significantly contribute to global efforts towards developing an energy efficient future which would both mitigate the effects of climate change and increase development.
To that point, Mr. Ban cited his Sustainable Energy for All initiative which, he said, aimed to dramatically increase energy access, energy efficiency and the use of renewables by the year 2030 – a move that would bring more light to homes, hospitals and enterprises and translate into “a safer, healthier and more productive future.”
“The International Year of Light can be used to expand scientific cooperation, especially in developing countries, advance education in the basic sciences, and engage talented young minds in our efforts to build lives of dignity for all,” the Secretary-General concluded, in his message.