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International Year Light and Soils

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About International Year Light and Soils

Science achieved its own status during the creation of UNESCO, in 1945, which has since resulted in the implementation of several programmes in this area of knowledge. These programmes aim to contribute to the maintenance of global peace and security, as well as to the development of societies. In this sense, UNESCO has sought to promote scientific cooperation over the years, across national borders, ideologies and the specific characteristics of each culture. Since the UNESCO’s 70th Anniversary, the International Year of Light and the International Year of Soils are simultaneously celebrated in 2015, as well as the Decade on Biodiversity (2011-2020) and the Post-2015 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Science should be, now more than ever, at the service of society, driving sustainable development and alerting us to the consequences of our activities, albeit focusing, first and foremost, on possible solutions that will allow us to meet the challenges we face at present, so that we may secure our future.

Elizabeth Silva Science Sector – Portuguese National Commission for UNESCO


Although we use light to unite us in social celebrations, in 2015 we are celebrating light itself, thoughts and findings about all types of light, even those our eyes cannot see. Light makes galaxies shine, activates computer chips, gives life to flowers, produces X-ray images, emerges from laser devices, travels across the Internet...

The mystery of light, including its origin, composition and processing by the human brain, has always been a central problem in the history of human thought and activity. Its use is always a solution looking for a problem to be solved: in engineering, art, industry, medicine, communications, the environment, energy, agriculture, historical research, heritage preservation, etc.

In order to celebrate the role played by light in sustainable development, education and culture, the United Nations proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. To invite us to reflect upon the benefits of using different types of light and divulge the impact of Light-based technologies. To inspire us.

Teresa Peña Commission for the International Year of Light


The General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Soils, in order to alert humans to the direct relationship between soil fertility and prosperous societies. In this sense, the many initiatives organised within the scope of these celebrations aim to help raise society’s awareness to the need for sustainable land management, as a key factor for producing food and obtaining fuels, natural fibres and clean water, as well as ensuring essential ecosystem functions and helping present and future generations to adapt to climate change. Soils, which represent the “Earth’s skin”, are a natural, finite and non-renewable resource, on a human scale. However, the area of fertile soils on our planet has become increasingly limited, owing to soil degradation, mismanagement and urban development. Therefore, it is urgent that each and every one of us become more conscious of the importance of maintaining «healthy soils for a healthy life», so that we may reverse the current trend and help to keep the food production levels required to ensuring the survival of the human population, which is estimated to reach nine thousand million by 2050.

Artur Sá President of the Portuguese National Committee for the International Geoscience Programme (IGCP–UNESCO)