Global Executive Director' Corner
Watching the growth of SETAC and its program of activities – global, regional and local – has been very exciting for me. Most recently, as I work on the 2010 SETAC annual report, I have been struck by how the Society’s global program has come together with such consistency and clarity, and the extent to which we are successfully realizing our shared vision for the organization. These activities are mutually reinforcing and generate numerous opportunities for SETAC members to expand the scope of their science and discussion to a true global stage. And I cannot pass up a chance to urge you to become involved in some way; you will find it interesting, challenging, and meaningful, and can help ensure that our scientific impact works to the good of the environment worldwide.
The global program’s pillars are four: science, engagement with international organizations and programs, training and capacity building, and partnerships with global and regional NGOs.
Of these, the key―SETAC’s global science―is also a four-pronged effort, drawing foremost on well-attended annual meetings around the world, global and regional workshops and symposia, active global advisory groups, and our superb journals ET&C and IEAM. Our annual meetings establish a strong foundation for SETAC’s growing worldwide presence and provide a broad venue for SETAC science, member interaction, and discussion of key scientific topics and issues. SETAC workshops have long generated “cutting edge” science relevant to policy makers and broadened scientific understanding. This year is downright hectic, with two events (risk assessment for pollinators and global life cycle database development) already in January and a workshop on global climate change set for July. In addition, SETAC Europe addressed mixture toxicity via a special symposium in February and North America will address the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in April and hold an event in Mexico in July. SETAC global advisory groups represent an impressive framework for tackling key challenges, and are now linked to international efforts in nanomaterials and pharmaceuticals, with other opportunities emerging. SETAC journals, with global publishing leader Wiley-Blackwell, continue to lead in science and research.
Our role as a NGO stakeholder in SAICM since 2007 underpins our impact internationally with SETAC providing science to the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and with further efforts to collaborate with other leading global scientific organizations. The proposal in 2010 of two new “emerging issues” of endocrine disrupters and environmental pharmaceutical persistent pollutants opens additional opportunities as we prepare for the next SAICM global meeting, the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM3) in 2012. We are looking to join the Stockholm Convention as an NGO partner, and we will be assisting the Global Environment Fund (GEF) with an analysis of chemical management priorities. Our collaboration with United Nations Environmental Program in the UNEP-SETAC Life Cycle Initiative, which I co-chair, demonstrates the Society’s broad impact in a discipline where the economy and environment meet. In December, SETAC joined the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership and we have an active working group of SETAC members dealing with a range of critical scientific issues related to mercury and the future international mercury convention.
SETAC training and capacity building efforts encompass outstanding programs of short courses at geographic and regional annual meetings, successful distance learning via well-attended webinars, and major international capacity building events related to SAICM where SETAC has conducted risk assessment training for Africa with a pending program for Latin America and the Caribbean, and other opportunities on life cycle assessment in SAICM and with other partners around the world. Look for news on future webinars to follow on to our two successful events last year. Our evolving eKnowledge program should begin to take shape this year as well.
The daunting nature of today’s global environmental challenges demands broad collaboration between key actors, from governments, business, academia and the NGO sector. SETAC’s active dialogue with many international partners will enhance the Society’s impact where needed most, particularly in developing countries and in areas where multi-disciplinary approaches―keyed to human health and biodiversity―are increasingly needed.
So, the global program is solidly in place to further our shared commitment to Environmental Quality through Science. There is so much to do and so much opportunity for SETAC members. Please do give me a call or send me a note with any questions or expressions of interest in becoming involved. We would love to have you on our global team.
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