The year 2011 is the International Year of Chemistry. This same year also marks the 100th anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Prize in chemistry to Marie Curie for her discovery of radium and polonium.

Incredible progress has been made in chemistry over this past century with numerous discoveries and inventions leading to many useful technologies. Much of our current civilization is founded on these technologies and the chemical industries arising from them. In particular, advances in chemistry have significantly extended the average life span of humanity in the 20th century.

At the same time, however, we are confronted by global-scale issues?the population explosion, deletion of natural resources, climate change, deterioration of the natural environment, and poverty?that compel us to ask ourselves how chemistry may contribute to humanity’s survival. The pursuit of truth must remain the essence of our science, but in our current century, we cannot ignore the fact that science and society are inevitably intertwined. Those of us working in chemistry and industry need to stop and reconsider how we are to respond to society’s needs and wants.

Under our unifying theme, “chemistry?our life, our future,” those of us in the field of chemistry must work to create new values that will support future society. In our current century, no nation can continue to exist in isolation. Outstanding science and technology are the pillars of international competition and cooperation. I sincerely hope that through the activities that are promoted in this International Year of Chemistry we will be able to encourage many young people to work hand-in-hand to build an affluent and glorious future society.

Ryoji Noyori            
IYC2011 Japan Committee Chair
President, RIKEN         
2001 Nobel laureate in chemistry
August 6, 2010