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The International Day of Light was proclaimed at the General Conference of UNESCO in November 2017 and the first celebration will take place on 16th May 2018.

The International Day of Light will provide an annual focal point for the continued appreciation of the central role that light plays in the lives of the citizens of the world in areas of science, culture and art, education, sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications and energy.

Following the highly successful International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015, the broad theme of light will allow many different sectors of society to participate in activities around the world to raise awareness of science and technology, art and culture, and their importance in achieving the goals of UNESCO — education, equality and peace.

The United Nations General Assembly designates a number of “International Days” to mark important aspects of human life and history. United Nations Specialized Agencies, including UNESCO, can also proclaim World Days. In this case, the proclamation of international days depends on their governing bodies and internal regulations only. UNESCO thus celebrates UN International Days related to its fields of competence, in addition to the other World Days, proclaimed by the Organization’s governing bodies or other institutions.

Although the International Year of Light ended over a couple of years ago, many of the activities that were started in 2015 continue today, and indeed are being developed further and amplified worldwide. UNESCO itself has provided us with a fantastic opportunity for the future with its Executive Board endorsing an annual International Day of Light that will take place every year on May 16, beginning in the year 2018.

The International Day of Light is administered from UNESCO’s International Basic Science Programme by a Steering Committee that also includes representatives from: the American Institute of Physics (AIP), the American Physical Society (APS), Bosca, the European Centres for Outreach in Photonics (ECOP), the European Physical Society (EPS), the International Association of lighting Designers (IALD), the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), the IEEE Photonics Society (IPS), the International Commission on Illumination (CIE), lightsources.org – the international network of accelerator based light sources, Light: Science and Applications, The Optical Society (OSA), Philips Lighting, the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) and Thorlabs. Partners worldwide are now making plans for an ambitious series of outreach and education activities in May 2018, with special focus on students, young people and the public at large. In addition, a flagship inauguration featuring Nobel Laureates and leaders in areas of education, industry, design and lighting will take place on 16 May 2018 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France. UNESCO welcomes all partners who wish to get involved in the International Day of Light either through organizing their own activities or by supporting the flagship event at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

Based on our extremely positive experience from last year’s celebration of Finish Photonics Day, we expect about 350-400 visitors for this year’s International Day of Light. University of Oulu (VTT – Technical Research Center of Finland), Finland, SPIE Student Chapter will present fancy experiments for schoolkids and general public showing importance of light-based technologies nowadays and for future and will encourage people think like scientists. Dozens of local schools will send their delegates, who in turn will spread the word in own families and among friends. Besides, the event will be enjoy coverage in the local media, in the University and VTT websites. Thus, potential impact will affect tens of thousands people.