The Legacy to Come - the Light Shines on in 2016

The year 2015 is rapidly coming to a close. Several New Year’s Eve events will include a wrap-up of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 (IYL 2015) in their celebrations, and the closing ceremony in the presence of UNESCO leadership will take place in Mexico in early 2016.

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But IYL 2015 has been such a runaway success that many activities worldwide will continue for many months more into 2016: for example, the French national committee has decided to run activities until the end of the French school year, and the European Commission funded project LIGHT2015 has seen such a high demand to organise seminars and events within Europe that these will still be running in June 2016.   

This year has been fantastically busy!  During IYL 2015, we have seen academic and industry organizations around the world joining forces to raise awareness of the many ways in which photonics impact our lives in areas such as energy, education, climate-change, and health.  These efforts have resulted in IYL 2015 being amongst the most successful and visible of any of UNESCO’s international observances, with thousands of activities involving millions of people in more than 100 countries worldwide. Discussions are now underway internationally to ensure that the resources and partnerships established over the last two years will continue in the future.  Legacy actions planned for the future include both specific on-the-ground outreach such as extension to UNESCO-ICTP’s Active Learning for Optics and Photonics Programme, as well as more political initiatives promoting the economic importance of photonics and continuing to fight against light poverty in developing countries. 

We would like to extend sincere thanks to all IYL 2015 national partners and contact points, and the tens of thousands of volunteers of all age groups who have made the year such a success.  There are also many key individuals who have been essential to the behind-the-scenes organisation without which the year simply would not have been the success it has been.  It is a great pleasure to acknowledge the indispensable roles of: Sarah Bucknall, Dorotea Calligaro, François Cesmat, Ana María Cetto, Eleonora Crotta, David Lee, Maciej Nalecz, Jean-Paul Ngome Abiaga, Joe Niemela, Martha Patterson, Krisinda Plenkovich, Jorge Rivero González, Beth Taylor, Vivian Zaccaria. 

The enthusiasm of staff and volunteers for the themes of light science and its applications is the reason for the success of IYL 2015.   With the International Year now coming to a close, it is important for us to remember that we must now build on all that we have achieved so that 2015 is viewed as a foundation for the future rather than simply an end in itself.

John Dudley, IYL 2015 Steering Committee Chair