Opening Ceremony of the International Year of Light


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The International Year of Light (IYL2015) is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications, and health.

Preliminary Programme

Note that the attendance of the Opening Ceremony is by invitation only.

Day 1

Registration 08.30 – 10.00

Morning Session 10.00 – 12.00

Welcome and Inauguration

High-Level Session with Welcome Addresses by UN and UNESCO Representatives and Member States and other Dignitaries.


This Session will also see representative(s) from the International Year of Light Steering Committee provide a brief overview of the objectives and themes of the year, the anniversaries to be celebrated, and a description of all major actions and programmes to be implemented.

Plenary Lecture - Light and Life

Ahmed Zewail, the Linus Pauling Chair professor of chemistry and professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech, USA). A pioneer of femtoscience, Ahmed Zewail is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board established by the United Nations Secretary-General.

Afternoon Session 14.00 – 18.00

Community Addresses

Short messages from members of the global scientific community will reinforce the diversity and international nature of the planned events during 2015.

Francis Allotey, African Physical Society & IUPAP Vice President at Large (Ghana).

Zohra Ben Lakhdar, l’Oreal-UNESCO Prize Recipient for Africa 2005 (Tunisia).

Ana-Maria Cetto, Member of World Future Council, Past Secretary-General of ICSU (Mexico).

Eric Rondolat, CEO of Lighting Sector, Royal Philips (Netherlands).

Danielle Harper, International Association Of Physics Students IAPS (United Kingdom).

Thierry Montmerle, International Astronomical Union IAU, Paris (France).

Plenary Lecture – Energy and Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities

Steven Chu, Nobel Laureate, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Humanities & Sciences and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University. From January 2009 until April 2013, Professor Chu was the 12th U.S. Secretary of Energy; during his tenure, he began ARPA-E, the Energy Innovation Hubs and the Clean Energy Ministerial meetings.

Thematic Session – Lighting the Future

Short presentations addressing issues of lighting and challenges for the future, to be followed by panel discussion.

Ann Webb, President of the International Commission on Illumination, Moderator (United Kingdom)

Gustavo Avilés, Lightteam (Mexico)

Harry Verhaar, President of the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (Netherlands)

Sze-leung Cheung, International Outreach Coordinator of the IAU (Hong Kong SAR, China).

Thematic Session – Light for Humanity and Culture

Short presentations addressing the many ways in which light influences human culture and our perception of the universe.

Gianfranco Cardinal Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture (Vatican)

Alessandro Farini, Professor at the University of Florence (Italy)

Ethnografilm-ISSC, Light and Cinema (USA)

Musical and Cultural Interludes will also be included in Day 1.

The Day will close with the opening of the 1001 Inventions and the World of Ibn Al-Haytham Campaign exhibition in Hall Segur followed by refreshments.

Day 2

Registration 08.30 – 9.00

Morning Session 9.00 – 12.10

Plenary Lecture – Einstein, Light, and Time

William Phillips, Nobel Laureate, physicist at the Joint Quantum Institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Maryland.

Thematic Session - Light on Development

Short presentations followed by discussion from speakers addressing issues of how light science and technology can impact on areas relevant to development worldwide.

Andrew Forbes, CSIR National Laser Centre, (South Africa)

Yanne Chembo, ERC Starting Grant Laureate (Cameroon / France)

Thanh-Nga Tran, Vietnam Vascular Anomalies Center (Vietnam, USA)

Sudhanshu Sarronwala, Speaker on behalf of Earth Hour, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Plenary Lecture – Title TBC

Serge Haroche, Nobel Laureate, Professor at Collège de France and Holder of the Chair of Quantum Physics (France).

Thematic Session – Science and Sustainability

This will be a high-level session with speakers from the UNESCO and UN systems.

Afternoon Session 13.30 – 18.00

Plenary Lecture – Challenges in telecommunications, advanced technology and applications

Zhores Alferov, Nobel Laureate, Rector of the St. Petersburg Academical University, Research and Educational Center of Nanotechnologies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Thematic Session – Science Frontiers

This session will include speakers covering topics at the frontiers of optical science. At least 6 speakers will be invited to address a selection of key topics. Speakers confirmed at the time of writing are:

Norio Kaifu, President of the International Astronomical Union (Japan)

Alain Aspect, UNESCO Neils Bohr Medal laureate (France)

Sune Svanberg, Former Chairman of the Nobel Committee for Physics, (Sweden)

Thematic Session – Light Solutions

This session will see speakers address how innovative (and sometimes very simple) solutions using light-based technologies can have dramatic impact in solving problems in developing countries.

Illac Diaz, LiterofLight and MyShelter Foundation (Philippines).

Martin Aufmuth, OneDollarGlasses (Germany)

Linda Wamune, SunnyMoney and SolarAid (Kenya).

Thematic Session – Science Policy

This will be a high-level session with speakers from the UNESCO and UN systems and Science Policy experts from around the world speaking to issues such as: effective science advice to governments, how the North can help South in human capacity building, and the impact of photonics on global economic development.

Closing Remarks

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