UNESCO, PhosAgro and IUPAC Award Joint Grants at SPIEF to the Best Young Scientists

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (“UNESCO”), jointly with PhosAgro and IUPAC, presented grants during the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (“SPIEF”) on June 2, 2017, to the best young scientists from all over the world for research in the field of green chemistry.

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; to 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 UNESCO partnership with PhosAgro and IUPAC is 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.”

PhosAgro CEO and Member of the Commission for UNESCO of the Russian Federation Andrey Guryev said: “I am convinced that the development of innovative technologies for industrial uses absolutely must adhere to the principles of green chemistry. All of us bear a responsibility for our planet and we must understand how important it is to respect the interests not only of the economy, but also of the ecosystem. Thanks to our joint efforts in the Green Chemistry for Life programme, work towards minimising the impact on the environment will receive ever greater practical significance each year. And I hope that it will bring a positive multiplier effect to society as a whole. That’s why we took the initiative in UNESCO’s headquarters to extend the Green Chemistry for Life programme by another three years.”

PhosAgro has a long tradition of caring for the environment by using the best available technologies. The company has consistently reduced the resource and energy consumption of its production capacities, using secondary resources and increasing the depth of its mineral processing. As a result, the controlled parameters of PhosAgro’s impact on the environment have declined to values set out in Russian and European guidelines for the best available technologies. PhosAgro’s enterprises can therefore be classified as ‘green’, or ecologically safe production sites.

IUPAC President Natalya Tarasova commented: “when the adoption of scientific breakthroughs into everyday life reach a mass scale, you have to think about the consequences of such exposure, and the impact on health and on the quality of the environment. Science’s top priority must be the development of technology to ensure further progress only on the condition that it is developed in a ‘green’ way. The Green Chemistry for Life project addresses this serious issue. It is especially important that the grant aims to support the very young scientists who are taking a fresh look at the world and are able to offer fresh, innovative approaches.”

Mayi Stanisavlevich, a young scientist from Bosnia and Herzegovina said: “I am very happy to have received a grant. This is a great motivation for me and my colleagues to continue our work and develop my research. I hope that it will encourage other young scientists from my country to apply for international grants like the PhosAgro/UNESCO/IUPAC grant.”

Mohamed Neifar, a young scientist from Tunisia emphasised: “the Green Chemistry for Life programme solves fundamental problems faced by young scientists, offers them attractive working conditions and the possibility to move from mere creative ideas to the practical application and development of green chemical processes.”


See more
– PhosAgro original post (2 June 2017)
– “We need chemistry to move forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” UNESCO release (2June 2017) and Irina Bokova’s address
– earlier IUPAC call for application (20 Sept 2016)

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