International Year of Light: What’s it all about?


2015 has been designated the International Year of Light by the United Nations, attracting interest and support from scientific, technological and cultural organisations around the world. As a specialist in marketing and communications for the lighting technology industry, Content Communications is pleased to support this fantastic initiative as a sponsor. The IYL has several sponsors, patrons and founding partners, including technology company Philips, the Institute of Physics and the Open University.

Here, we look at what the initiative involves and what to expect over the coming year.

What is the International Year of Light?

In December 2013, the UN General Assembly declared 2015 would be the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies. The initiative is designed to raise global awareness of the impact which light and light-based technologies have on sustainable development.

Throughout history, light has contributed to many advances in the fields of energy, health, agriculture and education. The programs which will be run by the International Year of Light throughout 2015 will focus on the role of light in the modern world.

Why is light important?

Light is a fundamental part of our existence, shaping our communications, technologies and culture in many ways:

  • Solar energy – The light and heat which is harnessed from the sun’s rays can be utilised in architecture, transport and agriculture to provide a sustainable source of energy and reduce carbon emissions
  • Photonics – The science and technology of detecting photons (particles of light) underpins everything from smartphones to medical instrument
  • Lighting in the built environment – Light represents almost 20% of global electricity consumption, providing safety, security and an enhanced quality of life
  • Connecting the world through fibre optics – Fibre optics are thin, transparent fibres which work by transmitting light signals from end to end. This permits transmission over long distances and is most commonly used through telecommunications and the Internet

Who is organising the International Year of Light?

Anyone can get involved with the International Year of Light, either by participating in an existing event or setting up their own program. The program of official events is being led by UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – a specialised agency of the UN which promotes international collaboration through education, science and culture.

What will the initiative involve?

Following on from the IYL launch events which took place around the world in January and February, a number of one-off events have been organised by scientific, cultural and educational establishments such as the Royal Institute and the National Science Museum. These will run throughout 2015.

In addition to this, a number of well-established science festivals will feature light, science and technology-based themes this year, including the Cambridge Science Festival and dedicated light festivals in Durham and York.
The program of events which will take place as a result of IYL 2015 will aim to use light and light-based technologies to educate and inspire the citizens of the world on a global scale. Some examples of upcoming events in the UK are:

  • Light Works exhibition, Edinburgh – An example of how light is used in everyday life through 50 images, taking the viewer on a virtual journey through the electromagnetic spectrum from gamma rays to radio waves.
  • Light-Life Ignite, London – An exhibition and series of workshops combining an innovative fusion of fine art and sustainable light and digital technologies
  • Lightlines, Barton-upon-Humber – An exhibition addressing the importance of light and environment by artist Gillian Hobson

For more information about the International Year of Light and upcoming events, visit light2015.org.


Content Coms specialises in PR and marketing for the lighting sector. If you’ve enjoyed our article, how about reading more of our industry news and analysis? Or check out our Little Book of Light?