Magnificent Milan! SETAC Europe 21st Annual Meeting: 15-19 May 2011
Dave Arnold, SETAC Europe Executive Director
What a meeting! So many different aspects represented the success and evolution of SETAC as a global scientific society. Once again our attendance figure exceeded expectations with more than 2100 delegates from 67 countries. The organization was not without its traumas. With 31 willing students on standby for delegate bag packing on Saturday morning, we discovered the bags had not arrived: mistakenly shipped by the supplier to Germany instead of Italy. With quick thinking, the local organizing team managed to source 2,300 large paper bags as a substitute. However, worse than this, the delegate materials dispatched from the Brussels office the previous week had also failed to arrive at the convention center. After several hours and many phone calls, a search party was sent to investigate various possible locations in Milan where the pallets were found still on the delivery truck in a warehouse. On arrival at the convention center at 5pm, a frenetic unloading operation took place, aided by the SETAC Europe Executive Committee who took the place of the student helpers who had, by then, been sent home! The delegate bags, sponsored by Waters, eventually turned up Wednesday. Our sincere apologies to Waters for the delay.
Despite these setbacks, the meeting was a resounding success both organizationally and scientifically. A notable success was the day and a half special session on exposure science sponsored by the International Society of Exposure Science (ISES). This was SETAC Europe’s first collaboration with another scientific society and the sessions were full. ISES members praised the professionalism and friendliness of SETAC and also commented how well we managed to organize a lunch every day for 2,000 people in one hour.
Plenary sessions were well attended and speakers highlighted the importance of the interface between science, people and the environment…a prelude to the theme of the World Congress in 2012.
In terms of outreach, we had a major delegation of members from Russia and countries within the former Soviet Union who are keen to develop SETAC within that region. They will initially join the Central and Eastern European branch of SETAC Europe as a temporary home whilst they continue to develop and organize. SETAC Europe is committed to providing support in various ways not only to enable them to become part of the SETAC family but also to spread the word about SETAC and SETAC science to those unable to attend SETAC Europe meetings. This initiative is supported by Patrick Russo of ISTC.
At the Milan meeting, SETAC Europe launched our collaboration with UNEP and the Billion Trees Campaign focused on Africa. As SETAC Africa is a branch of SETAC Europe, we have agreed to contribute to the campaign to plant trees in Africa and asked delegates to contribute €1 toward a tree. We were delighted when the catering manager at the Milano Convention Centre offered to donate the outstanding payment, which SETAC Europe owed, to the trees for Africa initiative. SETAC Europe will be further developing this initiative, which we will report on later in the year.
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