Meetings will be held at the Paris headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization next week and will be followed by three regional summit meetings in Pakistan in April, Brazil in September; and South Africa in October.
All are dedicated towards raising awareness for an 'International Year of Crystallography' and will serve as platforms for exchange between decision-makers and scientists in highlighting the development of crystallography research.
Crystallography has many applications. The science studies the composition and structure of crystals.
In the early 20th century, it was discovered that X-rays could be used to 'see' the structure of matter in a non-intrusive manner, allowing study of the arrangement of atoms in solids and the chemical bonds that draw one atom to another.
It is at the very core of revealing the structure of DNA, but only a tiny fraction of the world's people are aware of this science, a knowledge gap the United Nations hopes to help erase this year.
Dedicating a year to uncovering this science..
UNESCO has teamed up with the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr) to highlight the continuing importance of the science and its role in addressing post-2015 development issues such as sustainable energy and environmental remediation.
Director-General Irina Bokova and IUCr President Gautam R. Desiraju will preside over the opening session of next week's two-day event at which scientific advances linked to crystallography and its potential for development, notably in emerging nations, will be discussed.
"Since this discovery, crystallography has become the very core of structural science, revealing the structure of DNA, allowing us to understand and fabricate computer memories, showing us how proteins are created in cells and helping scientists to design powerful new materials," says UNESCO.
As part of the awareness-raising activities, crystallography demonstration laboratories will be set up throughout the year in universities around the world, be equipped with diffractometers, measuring instrument used to analyse the structure of a material, made available by their manufacturers free of charge.
These labs will be used to stimulate international scientific cooperation and train scientists in the use the instruments, as well as carrying out experiments in the presence of students.