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6 Reasons to Make 2022 the Year of Glass

Each year, the United Nations recognizes a global initiative and its contributions to society through a declaration of a United Nations International Year. A group of international glass organizations has been working to make 2022 the International Year of Glass.  

Last week, the group, led by the International Commission on Glass, hosted a global presentation featuring several UN representatives to discuss the initiative and show a video demonstrating the extraordinary importance of glass in society.  

Why should 2022 be declared the Year of Glass? 

We are in the glass age. 

“We are surrounded by glass. Glass is essential to fulfill our project for the agenda 2030. It is essential for the development of a sustainable economy,” says Agustin Santos, permanent representative of Spain to the UN.  

“The significance of glass has become more visible in the last decades,” says Feridun Hadi Sinirlioglu, permanent representative at the Mission of the Republic of Turkey to the United Nations. “Today, glass-based products are used in medicine, agriculture, construction and even in the quest to explore the universe.”  

Glass meets UN Global Goals.  

In 2015, world leaders at the UN established 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, designed to “create a better world by 2030, by ending poverty, fighting inequality and addressing the urgency of climate change.” The 2022 Year of Glass initiative demonstrates that glass is key to meeting 11 of the 17 Global Goals: 

  • Affordable and clean energy 
  • Industry, innovation and infrastructure 
  • Sustainable cities and communities 
  • Responsible consumption and production 
  • Climate action 
  • Good health and wellbeing 
  • Quality education 
  • Gender equality 
  • Clean water and sanitation 
  • Life below water 
  • Partnerships for the goals 

Glass helps create sustainable buildings.  

Familiar to our segment of the glass industry, glass is a necessary material in creating a sustainable built environment. Glass maximizes daylight, “boosting wellbeing and reducing need for artificial light,” according to the presentation. “It takes an important role in the ecosystem of vertical cities. It filters harmful UV radiation. Now modern glass also reduces the greenhouse effect by reflecting infrared light and allowing visible light transmittance.”  

The glass industry is also developing a range of next-generation performance solutions, such as transparent solar cells, to further increase the potential benefit of glass in buildings.  

In the time of COVID, glass provides answers.  

During COVID-19, glass enables communications. According to the presentation, “glass fiber communications have allowed us to carry on during lockdown. It’s changed the way we work. … It enables distance learning and communications for consumers and tradespeople.”  

But beyond communications, glass will also ensure safe delivery of vaccines and treatments. “Glass is a key material in healthcare,” according to the presentation. “It is one of the most inert materials in the world. It is used to carry sensitive drugs that could otherwise react with the vial they are kept in.”  

It’s an ancient material with solutions for tomorrow. 

Glass’ history goes back thousands of years. “The art of glass forming has been known since the ancient Egyptian civilization, as far back as more than 3000 years ago,” says Mohamed Edress, permanent representative at the Mission of Egypt to the United Nations.  

However, “in all present gadgets, future glass technologies can be seen,” Endress continues. “There will be lots of endeavors needed for our future innovations with glass, making lives of people more comfortable, creative, colorful and enjoyable.” 

And glass does so much more. 

The presentation highlights the role of glass in space, from the mirrors of the Hubble Telescope to the advanced Aerogel glass material that is used on the space station to catch space dust and other particles. The aerogel offers a heat-safe barrier, allowing the materials to be brought safely back to Earth for studying.  

It looks at the importance of glass in delivering clean water, in renewable energy and in art. It discusses bioglass, and how it is being used in advanced medical procedures to aid in bone and skin growth.   

“Glass is improving the world’s quality of life while providing a carbon neutral zero-waste material cycle. Welcome to the age of glass,” the presentation concludes.  


Katy Devlin

Katy Devlin

Katy Devlin is content director for the National Glass Association and editor in chief of Glass Magazine. E-mail Katy at