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Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship
Tomorrow starts with chemistry
Open Ceremony, Exhibition “Tomorrow starts with chemistry”
Brussels, 6 September 2011
Distinguished Members of the European Parliament
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to officially open the exhibition “Tomorrow starts with chemistry”.
UNESCO and IUPAC, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, have declared 2011 the International Year of Chemistry in order to celebrate the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to the well-being of humankind. We also intend to mark the 100th anniversary of the attribution of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Marie Curie-Sklodowska.
This exhibition is organised in cooperation with CEFIC, the European Chemical Industry Council, SusChem, the technological platform for sustainable chemistry, and EuCheMS, the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences. Its goal is to help understanding the role of chemistry in our daily lives both today and in the future.
Certain scholars say the word chemistry probably comes from the ancient Egyptian word Khemet, meaning “earth”. It came to us through the word of “alchemy” in the Middle Ages. But from that age and Nostradamus, we have luckily gained a lot of new knowledge and substantially increased our understanding of reality. A large part of the secret and mystery is gone, but there are still many extraordinary things that chemistry makes, or will make, possible.
We often forget that chemistry is at the basis of most inventions and innovations which created our wealth and make our lives convenient. It appears in all aspects of our daily lives, although most of the time we are unaware of it. From the moment we wake up chemistry is there: in soap and toothpaste; in the colours and properties of our cloths; in the components of the metro train or car; in the high technology of our mobile phone or computer we use; in the processes that preserve and protect our water and food. Chemistry and its applications are everywhere, making our modern life possible.
Unfortunately, we also tend to forget that chemistry has a key role in resolving future challenges, including those identified in the Europe 2020 strategy. Chemistry is at the origin of an industry that creates wealth and employment, representing one of the most important industrial sectors in Europe. It is at the basis of the industrial value chain, providing innovation to the whole European industry and therefore indispensable element for its global competitiveness. Chemistry is also a key element to resolve the environmental and social challenges of the future. For example, it provides the materials for new ways to generate and store energy, such as solar panels and lithium ion batteries. New materials and applications developed thanks to chemistry can also provide solutions to the problems of urban agglomerations and make the lives of ageing populations more convenient, as it is shown by today’s exhibition.
I am therefore very glad to inaugurate it and I am sure it will help all its visitors to understand in a very concrete way the fundamental contribution of chemistry in our daily lives.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I invite you to explore and experience this exhibition that will lead you through an all-senses tour in the world of chemistry. You will see in particular how it contributes to an efficient use of resources and to innovation in areas so diverse as of housing, water and mobility.
I wish that this exhibition will also convince skepticals and, more generally, those who are not yet aware of the role and relevance of chemistry and its related industrial activities,
Thank you for your participation and enjoy the discovery of the world of chemistry!