2015 is UN’s ‘Year of Light’ — What Role Will Solar Play?

solar rainbowExtra sparks of light will shine on the importance of solar this year, thanks to the United Nations and international photonics society SPIE.

As part of its 2015 International Year of Light, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and dozens of partners worldwide will be hosting a series of events to illuminate the pivotal role that access to light has to off-grid communities in the developing world.

In the U.S., the importance of solar energy will be given special attention by SPIE, which is working with a number of scientific organizations (such as the National Science Foundation) to hold educational events at meetings in the U.S. and Europe. It’s also collaborating with NASA and the Smithsonian to develop an educational exhibit and information campaign to be shown in Washington D.C. and airports throughout the United States.

“SPIE will be really trying to promote solar,” explained Eugene Arthurs, the CEO of SPIE. “We are strong believers that solar is the future and we want people to realize that the sooner we can move to solar, the better the world will be.”

In a few weeks, SPIE will hold an International Year of Light event at Photonics West, its annual meeting in San Francisco.

The organization is also hoping to educate members of Congress at a forthcoming event in Washington D.C.

“It’s more than just an awareness of solar light and the role of light in medicine,” Arthurs said. “We want to get the attention of the general public with banners to convey a sense of awe about light and how important it is.”

And today, UNESCO is wrapping up its two-day opening ceremony for the International Year of Light in Paris, featuring addresses from several notable speakers, including U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon and former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. Harry Verhaar of the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association and Linda Wamune of African solar lighting distributor SunnyMoney will be specifically talking about what their organizations are doing to boost global development via solar energy, Arthurs said.

“Light is life — light connects us with others near and far,” says the narrator in a SPIE-produced video about the International Year of Light. “Light will be key in discovering solutions to society’s most pressing problems … Our future will continue to be enabled by light.”

Solar panel rainbow photo CC-licensed by Steve Jurvetson on Flickr.

Kristine Wong
Author: Kristine Wong

Kristine Wong is a multimedia journalist who reports on energy, the environment, sustainable business, and food. Her work has been featured in The Guardian (UK / US), The Huffington Post, GreenBiz, and other publications. Before becoming a journalist, she worked in community-based environmental and public health organizations for more than 10 years as a researcher and community organizer. She has degrees in natural resources and journalism from U.C. Berkeley and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Washington. Follow her on Twitter @wongkxt.

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  1. Thanks, Kristine. Little data here, but good plug for SPIE. So many exciting developments this last year in solar technology that it should congeal into a good 2015 “Year of Light.”

    Comment by Tony stephens on January 20, 2015 at 11:04 am

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