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Pure Appl. Chem., 2000, Vol. 72, No. 7, pp. ii


J. R. Bull

The evolving face of contemporary chemistry is characterized by unprecedented societal demand for the goods and services of the chemical industry, tempered by growing awareness that finite resources must be conserved and their exploitation optimized. At the same time, environmental protection has become a global concern, and the chemical industry is increasingly obliged to reexamine conventional methodologies, and to seek ways of developing and applying more efficient and environmentally benign strategies for future sustainable growth. The tandem concepts of discovery and exploitation are obviously as old as the industry itself, but there is new urgency in the quest for solutions that will halt and reverse some of the negative effects of historical development and, at the same time, seize the opportunities offered by the extraordinary advances in chemical sciences during recent years.
The twin challenges of increasing synthetic efficiency in chemical transformations, and minimizing environmentally hostile waste offer irresistible opportunities for new-age ingenuity. It is in this climate that new approaches to these problems have coalesced into a distinctive discipline, which has been variously described and named but has, as its central thrust, the strategic objectives of increased efficiency, sustainability, and, ultimately, societal benefit. These objectives identify closely with the vision of IUPAC, which is eloquently expressed in two of the goals defined in the current strategic plan, namely to contribute to the advancement of research in the chemical sciences throughout the world and to assist chemistry-related industry in its contributions to sustainable development, wealth creation, and the improvement of the quality of life.
A Working Party on Synthetic Pathways and Processes in Green Chemistry was established in 1996, under the auspices of the Commission on Physical Organic Chemistry (Commission III.2) of the IUPAC Organic and Biomolecular Division, with a mandate to promote and disseminate awareness of environmentally compatible synthetic pathways (green chemistry), throughout the academic and industrial scientific research community. In 1999 this group, in close collaboration with the IUPAC Subcommittee on Organic Synthesis, initiated a project to publish a Symposium-in-Print on Green Chemistry, and undertook to compile a collection of expert reviews on aspects of the topic, underpinned by an introductory account of the evolution of the project, its rationale, and its interfaces with complementary initiatives and organisations.
This volume represents the culmination of that undertaking, and the introductory overview, comprising contributions by members of the Working Party, gives a detailed account of the role and interest of IUPAC in promoting this initiative, and sets the scene for the ensuing Symposium-in-Print, with an interpretation of the meaning of the term "green chemistry" and an account of the historical emergence of the concept. This is followed by a synoptic preamble, in which the content and purpose of individual reviews in the Symposium-in-Print are summarized. Although the preamble adopts a sequence of presentation based upon the logic imposed by the title theme of synthetic pathways and processes, the influential role of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is recognized by adoption of their recommended delineation of topics for grouping the ensuing reviews. The Symposium-in-Print sets out to capture the current status of the discipline and to project the boundless opportunities and challenges confronting contemporary organic synthesis and its practice in a changing world, increasingly sensitized to the finite bounds of natural resources and the vulnerability of the biosphere. It offers evidence that current problems are being addressed and can be solved, and engenders expectations that future problems can be anticipated and prevented. Most importantly, the collective expertise and commitment of the contributors is expected to furnish inspirational guidance to practicing scientists and students of chemistry, to participate in shaping a more environmentally benign future, in which the synthetic pathways and processes in chemistry are fully reconciled with societal expectations for ever-improving quality of life.
J. R. Bull
IUPAC Special Topics Editor
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