UNESCO, PhosAgro and IUPAC Award Joint Grants at SPIEF to the Best Young Scientists From all Over the World for Research in the Field of Green Chemistry

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (“UNESCO”), jointly with PhosAgro and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (“IUPAC”), presented grants during the StPetersburg International Economic Forum (“SPIEF”) to the best young scientists from all over the world for research in the field of green chemistry.

UNESCO supported the initiative of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO to hold the awards ceremony in Russia as part of SPIEF, as 2017 was declared the Year of Ecology by decree of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. This event underscores the important role of the Russian Federation to secure the sustainable development of civilisation and protect the environment, but also demonstrates the inextricable link between the economy and science, and highlights the need for environmentally responsible business.

During his speech at the plenary session at SPIEF, Russia Federation President Vladimir Putin paid particular attention to the increasing pressures on the planet’s ecosystem. “Our civilisation faces fundamental challenges”, he stressed, “and only through joint efforts can we achieve harmonious global development.”

“We need wisdom, responsibility, and collaborative efforts to find innovative solutions, as well as new ways of integrating of business and the scientific community at a regional level. It is necessary to make maximum use of organisations such as the UN,” the President noted.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, Special Presidential Representative for Environmental Protection, Ecology and Transport Sergei Ivanov, the Russian Federation’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergey Donskoy, Aide to the President of the Russian Federation Andrey Fursenko, Head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources Artem Sidorov, IUPAC President, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Natalia Tarasova, PhosAgro CEO and Member of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO Andrey Guryev, Executive Secretary of Russian Federation Commission for UNESCO Affairs Grigory Ordzhonikidze, member of the Executive Committee under the International Council for Science (ICSU) Nicole Moreau, the Chair of the International Academic Jury for the grants project, Professor John Corish from the University of Dublin and other representatives of the global scientific elite took part in the official ceremony to award the grants.

On 29 March 2013, the decision to implement the Green Chemistry for Life project was adopted at UNESCO’s headquarters (Paris, France). The programme aims to support young and talented scientists who conduct research in the field of green chemistry with the aim to solve critically important problems related to the development of civilisation, promote sustainable development of mankind while preserving natural resources, the environment and human health, and to implement energy efficient and environmentally friendly technologies based on innovative solutions.

The programme is unique because it is the first time in the history of UNESCO and the entire UN system that an initiative of this kind is being implemented on an extra budgetary basis with financing from a Russian business. PhosAgro, with the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Russian Federation’s UNESCO Commission, has provided funding to support young scientists from around the world doing research and development work. Initially the project was due to run until 2018, but today it has been announced that it will be extended for another three years until 2021.

In 2017, the international scientific jury selected seven PhosAgro/UNESCO/IUPAC grant winners from applications from all over the world (one of them will receive a special grant that was established last year for research in the field of phosphogypsum). The grant winners are from Argentina (Ariel Marcelo Sarotti), Pakistan (Shumaila Kiran), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Maya Stanisavlecich), Tunisia (Mohamed Neifar), Belgium (Demien Debeker), Nigeria (Obesed Olufonso Olumid) and Spain (Maria Ventura Sancez-Nornero). Laureates will be able to use their cash prize to carry out in-depth fundamental and applied research to present ready, innovative solutions in the field of efficient use of natural resource and recycled materials, in particular, phosphogypsum as a valuable secondary raw material. For example, Tunisian scientist Mohamed Neifar’s project is directly connected to the field of fertilizers: his research is devoted to the development of organic fertilizers for sustainable agriculture in Tunisia.

Winners can use their prize money to conduct fundamental and applied research and offer ready-made innovative solutions for the efficient use of natural and secondary resources, in particular, phosphogypsum, as a valuable secondary raw material. For example, Mohamed Neifar, a scientist from Tunisia is working on a project directly related to the fertilizer field- his research is devoted to the development of organic fertilizers for the development of agriculture in Tunisia.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova commented: “We need chemistry to move the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development forward; to eradicate poverty; ┬áto mitigate the impacts of climate change; for human rights and dignity. This calls for innovation at every level and in all associated processes. This is why our partnership with PhosAgro and theInternational Union of Pure and Applied Chemistryis so important to support the creativity and innovation of young scientists, guided by the Principles of Green Chemistry. Today I call on all young researchers to be bold, to go out and make new discoveries, to shape a better future for the whole of humanity.”