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International Day of Light 2023 – May 16

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International Day of Light - May 16 2023The International Day of Light (IDL) is a global initiative, annually observed on 16th May to celebrate the contribution of light in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development. The day also celebrates the role of lights in fields as diverse as medicine, communications, and energy.

16th May 2023 marks the 6th edition of International Day of Light.

  • The International Day of Light is observed by the United Nations (UN)s and administered from the International Basic Science Programme (IBSP) of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
  • The observance of the International Day of Light is a call to strengthen scientific cooperation and harness its potential to foster peace and sustainable development.

Why May 16th?

i. 16th May marks theanniversary of the first successful operation of the laser in 1960 by American physicist and engineer, Theodore Maiman

ii. The day marks the anniversary of the first successful operation of the laser and it also includes aspects of art, culture, entertainment, everywhere light is present.


i. In December 2013, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed the year 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies(IYL 2015).

ii. Following the successful observance of IYL 2015, the Russian Federation, Ghana, Mexico, New Zealand proposed the annual observance of International Day of Light.

iii. The resolution was adopted on September 19 2016 at the UNESCO Executive Board’s 200th session (200 EX/Decision 27) held at the UNESCO Headquarter Paris in France.

iv. On November 7, 2017, The UNESCO’s General Conference adopted the 39 C/Resolution 16 and proclaimed the 16th May of every year as the International Day of Light.

  • The first official International Day of Light was observed on May 16 2018.


i. The International Day of Light provides an enduring follow-up of the achievements of the International Year of Light (IYL 2015) in raising the profile of science and technology, and its application towards stimulating education, improving the quality of life worldwide, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set in the UNs 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

ii. The observance also offersUNESCO an opportunity to fulfil its mission of promoting international cooperation in the basic sciences and STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Education.


Few major goals of the International Day of Light are:

i. To improve the public understanding of how light and light-based technologies touch the daily lives of everybody, and are central to the future development of the global society.

ii. To build worldwide educational capacity through activities targeted on science for young people, addressing issues of gender balance, and focusing especially on developing countries and emerging economies.

iii. To highlight and explain the link between light and art and culture, enhancing the role of optical technology to preserve cultural heritage.

iv. To emphasise the importance of basic research in the fundamental science of light, the need for investment in light-based technology to develop new applications.

v. To raise awareness that technologies and design can play an important role in the achievement of greater energy efficiency, particularly by limiting energy waste, and in the reduction of light pollution.

About United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO):

Established in– 1945 (entered into force in 1946)
Director-General– Audrey Azoulay
Headquarters– Paris, France