Project Details Emerging Technologies and Remote Sensing - Assessing the Implications of Trends in Science and Technology Relevant to the Chemical Weapons Convention

Project No.: 
Start Date: 
14 February 2017
End Date: 
15 October 2018
Division Name: 


To provide advice to the Scientific Advisory Board of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on scientific developments that may have an impact on the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and on the Review Conference for the CWC to be held by the States Parties in 2018. Specifically, the workshop will focus on emerging technologies, including remote sensing.


The CWC, which entered into force in 1997 prohibits the use of chemicals as weapons of war and requires the destruction of existing stockpiles of such weapons. This treaty is implemented by the OPCW, which consists of the 192 States Parties, the Executive Council, and the OPCW Secretariat (which is responsible for monitoring the destruction of weapons, monitoring international transfers of chemicals that are recognized as weapons or their immediate precursors, and for inspecting chemical production facilities in member countries).

In 2018, the CWC will convene its 4th Review Conference – a diplomatic international conference held every 5 years to review the operation of the CWC. For the three previous international scientific conferences in chemistry (held in 2002, 2007, and 2012), staff from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences supported the workshop organization with the final, stages of project. In preparing for the next CWC Review Conference, OPCW will host 4 smaller, topical workshops in association with various partners. In 2016, two workshops were held in Helsinki and Paris, focused on chemical forensics and toxicity of warfare agents, respectively. IUPAC and OPCW will host the 3rd workshop in this series.

The purpose of this project will continue the practice of providing critical input from the global science and technology community to inform international non-proliferation discussions by bringing together the expertise available to IUPAC and the OPCW. IUPAC will reach into the experience and knowledge about advances in chemical research and production that resides its Divisions and constituent societies and academies on a global scale. The OPCW will contribute the expertise resident in its Scientific Advisory Board and the governments of CWC Member States.

The two-day workshop, planned for Brazil in July 2017 will center around “Emerging Technologies” and feature talks in areas such as Recognizing Biochemical Change, particularly in areas such as vegetation, the environment, and process monitoring, Mobile and Wearable Technologies, Point of Care Diagnostics, Automatic Systems for Sample Detection, and Artificial Intelligence in the Chemical and Life Sciences. The majority of Day 2 will be devoted to breakout discussion sessions, where speakers, commentators, and other participants that are invited will discuss the implications of these advances related to the Chemical Weapons Convention. There is an expected attendance of 40 participants.

The result will be reports by the OPCW Scientific Advisory Board and by IUPAC that will be made available to the OPCW and its Member States in time for their preparations of the Fourth CWC Review Conference. Plans are being made for publication of a summary report and extended abstracts of the lectures in Pure and Applied Chemistry.


August 2017 update – The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013, is in the process of up-dating its strategic plan. As part of this process, workshops are being held to produce reports that will assist in the strategic planning process.

IUPAC has had a relationship with OPCW for several years. (see L.K. Sydnes, CI July 2013, pp. 4-8; The nature of this relationship has been that OPCW seeks advice from IUPAC on matters of science, particularly concerning chemistry in its broadest sense. Dr. Mark Cesa, Past President of IUPAC, has been the key link with OPCW and has been working to up-date the Memorandum of Understanding between OPCW and IUPAC (, as well as participating in meetings of the OPCW and its Science Advisory Board (SAB).

One of the planning workshops focused on new innovative technology that might play an important part in OPCW in future. A workshop organising team was led by Dr. Jonathan Forman of OPCW, Dr. Mark Cesa of IUPAC, and Dr. Camly Tran of the National Academies of Science, as key persons in assisting in the development of the workshop agenda.

Participants at a workshop on innovative technologies for chemical security in Rio de Janeiro

The workshop took place in Rio de Janerio, held from 3 to 5 July 2017 at the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and the Brazilian Chemical Society offices. Several members of the OPCW SAB were present along with the organising team and the speakers, over 40 people in all. The result of the meeting is a report by the SAB which was completed by the end of the meeting. This report will be finalised and posted on the OPCW website ( A summary of the meeting is available in Portuguese on the Brazilian Academies site, ]. OPCW press release was posted July 7,

The meeting was very successful and interesting because of the wide range of new technologies that were discussed. These technologies will have significant effects on a variety of organisations, not just OPCW. IUPAC is preparing to publish a special issue of Pure and Applied Chemistry containing many papers based on the speaker’s presentations. The listing below of the topics discussed is an indication of the extensive work of the OPCW and its links with the chemistry world.

On 21 July 2017, the Report of the Scientific Advisory Board’s Workshop on Emerging Technologies [SAB-26/WP.1 or sab26wp01_SAB.pdf] was released by OPCW.

Topics discussed over the two and a half days of meetings
– Contingency operations – challenges for OPCW inspectors; Katarina Grolmusova, Chemical Weapons Inspector, OPCW
– Aerial Platforms for Reconnaissance, Sample Planning and Basic Detection; Guy Valente, Assistance and Protection Branch, OPCW
– Technologies being adopted for precision agriculture and their potential applications; Ricardo Inamasu, Embrapa Labex, Brazil
– Optical sensors for the detection of biophysical and biochemical changes of plants: Case studies from plant-pathogen interactions; Matheus Kuska, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany
– Remote Sensing of Terrestrial Ecosystems; Greg McCarty, USDA-ARS Hydrology & Remote Sensing Laboratory, USA
– Data Fusion – Satellites and Dispersion Models: The 2016 Al-Mishraq Sulphur Plant Fire; Oscar Björnham, FOI Sweden
– Promise of large-scale sensor networks and big data to measure and manage our environment; Melissa Lunden, Aclima, USA
– Targeted catalytic degradation of organophosphates: pursuing sensors; Elisa Orth, Federal University of Parana, Brazil
– Multisensor Systems (E-nose) for toxic gases detection and biomedical applications; Cristhian Manuel Durán Acevedo, Universidad De Pamplona, Colombia
– Flexible, foldable, and wearable paper-based electronics and electrochemical devices; Murilo Santhiago, Instituto de Química, Brazil
– Wearable Technology for Chem/Bio: Existing and Emerging Capabilities; Richard Ozanich, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, USA
– Digital Health: What You Can Learn from your Smartwatch; Xiao Li, Stanford University, USA
– Understanding Smart Data Collection vs Big Data Collection and How to Focus AI Analysis; George Harris, Basil Leaf Technologies
– Unmanned Airborne Mass Spectrometer System (UAS-MS) for Autonomous in situ Chemical Measurements under Harsh Environment Conditions; Jorge Diaz, University of Costa Rica, Costa Rica
– Collection and Processing of Biological Samples in Remote and Dangerous Places; the ESP as a Case Study; Jim Birch, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, USA
– Modular robotic toolbox for counter-CBRN support; Grzegorz Kowalski, Industrial Research Institute for Automation and Measurements PIAP, Polan
– Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Equipped with CBRN DIM Capability to Enhance the Chemical Awareness; Marcel van der Schans, TNO CBRN-DIM UAV
– Monitoring Networks tracking biogeochemical changes in coastal and maritime environments from Argentina; Andrés Arias, Instututo Argentino de Oceanografia, Argentina
– Remote Sensing and Open-Source Research for Nonproliferation Analysis: Case Studies from the MIIS Center for Nonproliferation Studies; Catherine Dill, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, United States Computer Aided
– Engineering Tools Applied to Chemical Weapons Convention implementation; Evandro de Souza Nogueria, OPCW SAB

Feb 2018 update – A short report has been published in Chem Int Jan 2018, p. 37,
A collection of manuscripts from the workshop is being assembled for publication in Pure and Applied Chemistry.

Oct 2018 update – A special PAC issue -Oct 2018- containing invited papers on Innovative Technologies for Chemical Security, based on work done within the framework of the Chemical Weapons Convention > see content

Project completed

Nov 2018 update – PAC issue announced and reviewed in CI Oct 2018, p. 36;

Page last updated 8 Nov 2018