Strengthening EuChemS

As his term as EuChemS President ends on 31 December 2023, Floris Rutjes summarizes the last three years.
Floris Rutjes,
European Chemical Society

While returning from Cyprus, chairing my last General Assembly as EuChemS President, it doesn’t feel like my EuChemS activities are coming to an end. Looking back at the past four years in the Executive Board, one as President-Elect and three years as President, the first 30 months were largely dominated by COVID, resulting in few personal interactions and many online meetings and webinars. Yet, we adapted and got accustomed to new ways of interacting within EuChemS. It resulted in fewer in-person Executive Board meetings, adaptation of the constitution such that we can have virtual General Assemblies also under normal circumstances, and hybrid science and policy workshops from the European Parliament, thereby reaching a much bigger audience than before, to mention a few examples.

I am proud that under these difficult circumstances, EuChemS was able to maintain its activities and even increase the number of events and participation in science-policy outreach. After COVID, steadily all the regular activities were resumed, with the most rewarding one being the successful 8th EuChemS Chemistry Congress in Lisbon, where people could meet in person again after a long time.

Being three years EuChemS President may sound like a long time, but in my perception it passed very quickly. It takes time to, for instance, learn how the EuChemS organization really works, how exactly the divisions and working parties are organized, which policy activities we should be involved in, and which internal processes could be improved. A continuous goal of many of the changes that were implemented was to increase EuChemS’ visibility and branding the name EuChemS. The acronym EuChemS is now always visible in the name of awards, there is a new monthly magazine that contains the name EuChemS, we have video clips explaining what EuChemS stands for and so on. We teamed up with the larger member societies in science-policy activities, such as the High-Level Roundtable on the Implementation of Sustainable Chemicals Strategy set up by the European Commission, Stick-to-Science and Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA). And we changed our focus to sustainability, as with, for example, the EuChemS Periodic Table, which as of recently, no longer focuses solely on scarcity but also on sustainability as well.

The first three years I worked closely with the experienced board members Pilar Goya and Eckart Rühl, and continuing without them feels like a transition. Their successors, Angela Agostiano and Hans-Peter Lühti, however, have started full with enthusiasm and new ideas and that gives new elan to the board. Industrial participation has started, and there are new plans to invest in creating a stronger European chemistry community. Therefore, I am convinced that with this new team, as always supported by the dedicated EuChemS Office, we will continue with the Member Societies and the Professional Networks to further develop EuChemS into a stronger and more powerful player in the European chemistry arena.

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