Prof John Parker* and ICG President Prof Alicia Duran discuss how IYOG2022 came about and what happens next.
Tuesday 18th May 2021 is a date etched forever in our memories, it being the point in time when the United Nations approved a resolution promoting 2022 as a United Nations International Year of Glass.
This carefully crafted document was submitted by the Spanish Ambassador with 19 co-sponsoring countries.
Its originators were the International Commission on Glass (ICG), the Community of Glass Associations (CGA) and the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Glass (ICOM), who built on a concept from the US that we were living in a ‘Glass Age’. Its aims were to underline the scientific, economic and cultural roles of glass throughout the world in the context of the UN 2030 goals and to celebrate multiple key anniversaries.
Glass supports many vital technologies, facilitates sustainability and a green world; it enriches our lives, yet so often goes unnoticed.
This exciting journey began in 2018. Along the way 1500 Universities and research centres, societies and associations, museums, artists, educators, manufacturers and supporting companies in 80 countries on five continents added their support.
Having successfully negotiated the disruption caused by a pandemic, a draft Resolution outlining our ambitions was created by the Missions of several UN countries during April, it passed the UN silent process on 11th May. Our heartfelt thanks go to the Spanish Mission, particularly the Spanish ambassador Agustín Santos Maraver and Ana Alonso, who guided this process through the difficult twists and turns of diplomacy in stressful times.
Our thanks also go to all who responded to our vision, especially the many experts and colleagues that collaborated to create splendid videos and documents justifying our project; they were always ready and overflowing with ideas and support.
The task of stimulation, diffusion and coordination of thousands of activities across the planet now begins.
Congresses, scientific and technical seminars, industrial fairs and glass schools will coexist with artistic exhibitions, books and technical publications, articles in the press and social media, on the radio and TV.
Event planning will rely on grass roots input and networks of volunteers; delegation is unavoidable. Individual efforts will be guided and supported by national and/or regional committees which are now being set up throughout the world. But start anyway!
Contact lists will shortly be published through our web site (IYOG2022.org). This will also be used for inputting and accessing advice, sharing best practice and creating lists of planned activities, sortable by geography, date and type.
Among the activities already agreed are: the printing of dedicated issues of international journals; exhibitions in museums, public and private glass collections; and the preparation of educational materials for universal dissemination. For example, the Spanish Research Council, CSIC, is committed to publishing a celebratory book and organising exhibitions on: a) IYOG objectives related to the UN 2030 Agenda and b) creating a Circular Economy based on recycling and glass containers. English and Spanish versions of exhibition materials will be offered to all supporting countries with translation into other languages also possible.
Many international events are already confirmed. A two-day celebratory Opening Conference is planned in Geneva on 10-11th February 2022. Several industrial fairs will focus on IYOG beginning with VITRUM (October 2021). First in 2022 will be Mumbai (March), followed by the great China Glass Expo (April), then glasstec in Düsseldorf (October) as well as possibly Monterrey, Mexico in May. All will run satellite events to celebrate Glass. The most important scientific event will be the ICG Congress in Berlin, marking the 100th anniversary of the DGG. A conference in Egypt will celebrate the centenary anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun. A US Glass Day in Washington DC will focus on art and museums. The number of proposed activities grows daily.
National annual events are already being re-imagined to integrate IYOG celebrations. Our hope is that local groups will dream big dreams, consider new possibilities and then solidify their ideas of what they can organise, how they will be financed and advertised.
Centrally we are working on creating communication channels to share thoughts and examples of best practice, firstly via local committees, then an International Council and finally on into the public domain.
Another task is fundraising, particularly to finance the opening event in Geneva. The IYOG web site will shortly have a tool for accepting smaller donations but if you are able to give more or wish to have your name attached to a specific event please contact the ICG treasurer directly through the same site. Similar fund-raising teams will also be needed to support local events.
IYOG2022 is a dream come true for so many in the Glass World, one we scarcely dared to anticipate.
We are preparing for the challenges ahead, limited only by our imaginations. But now is the time for you too to act, dream you own dreams, create new contacts, imagine new possibilities, unravel hard problems, and help build a greener, more equal and transparent future.
*Curator of the Turner Museum of Glass, The University of Sheffield, UK