The United Nations (UN) General Assembly 68th Session during its 71st Plenary Meeting proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015). In proclaiming an International Year focusing on the topic of light science and its applications, the United Nations has recognized the importance of raising global awareness of how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health.
This International Year will bring together many different stakeholders including UNESCO, scientific societies and unions, educational and research institutions, technology platforms, non-profit organizations and private sector partners to promote and celebrate the significance of light and its applications during 2015.
Light plays a vital role in our daily lives and is an imperative cross-cutting discipline of science in the 21st century. It has revolutionized medicine, opened up international communication via the Internet, and continues to be central to linking cultural, economic and political aspects of the global society. For centuries light has transcended all boundaries, including geographic, gender, age and culture. It is also a tremendous subject to motivate education. It is critical that the brightest young minds continue to be attracted to optics and photonics in order to ensure the next generation of engineers and innovators in this field.
IYL 2015 will promote an improved public and political understanding of the central role of light in the modern world while also celebrating a number of important significant anniversaries that take place in 2015 – from the first studies of optics 1000 years ago during the Islamic Golden Age to discoveries in internet optical fiber technology in 1965. The IYL 2015 resolution was adopted with co-sponsorship from 35 countries around the world.
As the Chairman of the IYL 2015 Steering Committee John Dudley explains: “An International Year of Light is a tremendous opportunity to ensure that policymakers are made aware of the problem-solving potential of light technology. Photonics provides cost-effective solutions to challenges in so many different areas: energy, sustainable development, climate change, health, communications and agriculture. For example, innovative lighting solutions reduce energy consumption and environmental impact, while minimizing light pollution so that we can all appreciate the beauty of the Universe in a dark sky. IYL2015 is a unique opportunity to raise global awareness of advances in this field.”