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The International Chemistry Olympiads : speech of the minister
[anglais] Discours - Jean-Michel Blanquer - 22/07/2019

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Jean-Michel Blanquer spoke at the opening of the 51st International Chemistry Olympiads which take place from 21st to 30th of July 2019 in Paris.

Only the spoken word prevails.

Madam President, Valérie Pécresse,
Chairman of the International Committee (Gabor Magyarfalvi)
President and Honorary President of the Scientific Committee (Didier Bourissou and Jean-Pierre Sauvage)
Inspectors General, Anne Szymczak,
Ladies and gentlemen, Alex Taylor,

Today's event is exceptional in more ways than one.
First, because it has been almost thirty years since the International Chemistry Olympiads has been held in France. And France is obviously very happy to be the organizer of this prestigious gathering, an event that brings together scientists, teachers and top-level candidates.

The exceptional nature of these Olympiads can be demonstrated with a few facts:

  • 85 countries are involved;
  • More than 300 young people under 20 will compete, accompanied by 300 adults;
  • Finally, nearly 230 French volunteers are assisting during these 10 days of events.

First of all, I would like to thank all of the volunteers, teachers, students and laboratory technicians who have given their time: without you, without your commitment, this competition would not have been possible.

I wish to also express our gratitude to all the partners: chemistry research institutes, chemistry associations as well as the many French companies that have offered us their assistance. A big thank you for your support.

I would also like to greet the young people from around the world who are here today. If you are present, it is because you are motivated by the joy of learning, and by a quest for excellence.

These 10 days will also allow you to get to know our country a little, and I hope you will want to study here - or even build your professional life here one day.

You know that France has a long tradition of academic excellence in scientific disciplines, and I take this opportunity to salute Jean-Pierre Sauvage, the 2016 winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry.

France also has a long and strong tradition of welcoming foreign students and researchers. Know that you will always be welcome in our country.

France has the ambition to strengthen its scientific excellence even more: because to address the major issues of our world, it will become increasingly necessary to promote scientific studies.This is precisely one of the great ambitions of the secondary-school reform that will come into effect in September.

In September, all secondary-school students in France - without exception - will be able to benefit from two hours per week of scientific education, including in physics and chemistry.

Furthermore, students who want to prepare for scientific studies in higher education will be able to benefit from more ambitious coursework, with more intensive teaching programs, and more hours. Beyond French borders, new scientific issues are part of a global landscape.

You candidates, who come from every continent, you are a bit like the landscape of scientific research.
But you also embody all of the hope that we put in an open, enlightened youth, for whom scientific and ethical issues are linked: exemplified by international youth activism for sustainable development and climate change.

Indeed, the 2019 Olympiads has a special focus on respect for the environment.
And my belief is that scientific excellence, which you embody, will also enable us to find the means to face the challenges of the world to come: controlling energy consumption, preserving natural resources and reducing pollution are all issues for which chemistry can make a decisive contribution to building a better and more livable world.

So, for 10 days, you will compete.

France is not only the country of Pierre and Marie Curie, it is also the country of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee.
Since we are about to begin the Olympiads, let me remind you that the spirit of the Olympic Games, which will soon be held in France, attaches as much importance to participation as to the victory.

Seeing all of you, who represent the youth of the world - gathered today not for material gain, but on a quest for knowledge - I am convinced that these Olympiads constitute a victory for all of us and a great hope for the future.

Thank you.

Jean-Michel Blanquer, French Minister of National Education and Youth.

Last updated : juil. 26, 2019

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