St Petersburg – PhosAgro CEO Andrey Guryev took part in the opening ceremony of the 21st Mendeleev Congress on General and Applied Chemistry, which was held today at the St Petersburg Mining University.
Taking place 9–13 September 2019 under the auspices of the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the congress is one of the main events in the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements—the great Russian scientist Dmitry Mendeleev established the periodic table of elements 150 years ago. PhosAgro, the general sponsor of the Mendeleev Congress, was selected as the UN’s implementing partner for events throughout the year, including the opening of the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements at UNESCO headquarters in January of this year.
The more than 2,500 congress participants were addressed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Russian Minister of Science and Higher Education Mikhail Kotyukov, IUPAC President Zhou Qifeng, President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Sergeev, St Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov, St Petersburg Mining University Rector Vladimir Litvinenko, PhosAgro CEO Andrey Guryev and the Deputy Director of the Art, Science and Sport Foundation, Fatima Mukhomejan.
To open the congress, Alexander Sergeev of the Russian Academy of Sciences read out welcoming remarks on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin. President Putin noted that the discovery of the Periodic Law of Chemical Elements “had a truly revolutionary impact on the development of all natural sciences, and it enabled humanity to take a confident step forward on the path to understanding the universe.
“It is gratifying that, in honour of the anniversary of this momentous discovery for the entire scientific world, 2019 was declared the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements. I am certain that this prestigious congress, which brings together well-known scientists, representatives of leading research schools and major international scientific organizations, will be the Year’s key event.”
In his opening remarks, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev quoted Mendeleev: “it is impossible to foresee the limits of scientific knowledge”. Based on this principle, Russia has made support for promising research and talented scientists a state priority.
“We are trying to do everything we can to continue the great traditions of the past, the traditions of great scientists. What is most important is that new talents emerge who are capable of changing our world for the better.”
IUPAC President Zhou Qifeng also underlined the strength and durability of these great traditions in his remarks, as he emphasised the crucial role that Mendeleev’s discovery of the Periodic Law continues to play in chemistry to this day, as well as the contributions that Mendeleev’s compatriots made to its further development.
According to St Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov, it was not by chance that Russia’s Northern Capital was selected to host the congress: “The spirit of [Dmitry] Mendeleev, who lived in this city, is still present in St Petersburg, motivating young boys and girls to study chemistry.” In this same vein, the rector of the St Petersburg Mining University, Vladimir Litvinenko, said that the Mendeleev Congress was a celebration, first of all, for young scientists and students who are taking their first steps in their adult life.
“It is very important to impart to them the message that there is a history that must be remembered, and not to rewrite historical facts. And since there is a history, that means there is also a bright future for them.”
PhosAgro CEO Andrey Guryev noted that it was a great honour for his company to have an opportunity to be involved in developing the incredible scientific legacy of the great Russian scientist Dmitry Mendeleev, who is also the founder of agricultural chemistry in Russia.
“It is obvious for us at PhosAgro that, without an effective partnership between science and business, it is impossible to ensure sustainable development and to solve the global challenges facing humanity”, he said in addressing the congress participants.
PhosAgro’s CEO spoke about the Company’s close cooperation with Russian and international scientific organisations, through which PhosAgro is responding to global issues such as hunger and soil degradation, while also helping ensure global food security and caring for the environment, and improving production efficiency at the same time.
In 2018, for example, PhosAgro became the first private Russian corporation to sign an agreement with the Russian Academy of Sciences and is now expanding this cooperation in terms of the innovative development of fertilizer production. The Russian Academy of Sciences provides PhosAgro with both expertise and methodological support for the development of the Company’s research and innovation centre, the heart of which is the Samoilov Research Institute of Fertilizers and Insectofungicides, which is part of PhosAgro Group, Europe’s leading specialised research institute for fertilizers and insectofungicides and the only institution of its kind in Russia. The Samoilov Institute has de facto created a powerful base of phosphate raw materials, as well as Russia’s mineral fertilizer industry. Mr Guryev noted the symbolism of the timing: “these days, when the entire scientific community is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the Periodic Law, the Samoilov Institute is celebrating its 100th anniversary”.
PhosAgro was also the first Russian company in the history of the United Nations to be selected to carry out a global soil protection initiative. The joint project with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, called “Development of sustainable agriculture through the implementation of the Global Soils Doctors Programme and the creation of a Global Soil Laboratory Network”, is aimed at educating farmers about more effective solutions in terms of soil fertility without accumulating pollutants in the soil, as well as expanding the global network of soil laboratories outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment.
At the end of last year, PhosAgro also joined the UN Global Compact, the largest international initiative for business in the areas of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. Its main objective is to integrate the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into business activities. PhosAgro has been assigned LEAD status under the Global Compact, by which the UN recognises the most active participants in the Global Compact that are making the most significant contribution to the achievement of the SDGs.
Mr Guryev agreed with the point about the need for comprehensive support for young scientists, a common theme in the remarks made by the congress’s distinguished guests. He emphasised the fact that supporting young chemists is a priority for PhosAgro’s social and personnel policies. For example, the Company has been collaborating with UNESCO and IUPAC for many years as part of the Green Chemistry for Life project, which provides financial and scientific support for promising young scientists from around the world who are engaged in developing advanced new technologies based on the principles of green chemistry in order to solve problems related to environmental protection, healthcare, food, energy efficiency and the sustainable use of natural resources. During the five years in which the programme has been carried out, more than 600 applications have been considered, and 34 young scientists from 26 countries have been awarded cash prizes and grants worth about USD 2 million. Green Chemistry was the first project in the history of UNESCO and the UN to be financed by a Russian company.
PhosAgro not only supports basic science, but it also works to increase the prestige and popularity of science among the younger generation. The Company has developed a specialised education and training system for highly qualified engineering personnel through its the School–College–University programme. PhosAgro schools in the cities where the Company operates provide opportunities for the in-depth study of chemistry, physics and other subjects; academicians teach at sponsored educational institutions, and the Group’s interactive educational museum centres are aimed at making science accessible to everyone. PhosAgro is also developing its cooperation with the Talent and Success Educational Foundation (Sirius Educational Centre in Sochi), which began more than a year and a half ago. Collaboration is aimed at developing the Company’s projects in the areas of education, science and career guidance.
Mr Guryev promised that PhosAgro would make every effort to ensure that this year sees further integration of Russian basic science, real-world business and global international institutions in the area of sustainable development.
“PhosAgro is a highly-regarded and successful company that is the world’s top producer of high-quality phosphate rock and a leading producer of phosphate-based fertilizers. PhosAgro contributes to food security not only for Russia and Europe, but also for people worldwide,” said Qifeng Zhou, President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.
“I am certain that the International Year of the Periodic Table will bring us many new names and discoveries that will benefit humanity. I would like to wish the participants of the Mendeleev Congress fruitful work, as well as new scientific discoveries and achievements!”
Following his remarks, Mr Guryev donated to the St. Petersburg Mining University museum – “one of the best technical museums in the world” – an interactive version of Mendeleev’s periodic table of elements that PhosAgro had custom-made for the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the Periodic Law.
The first day of the 21st Mendeleev Congress ended with a gala reception hosted by PhosAgro for participants and distinguished guests. The theme of the event was “Chemistry joins us together”.