Global Executive Director’s Corner
Mike Mozur, SETAC Global Executive Director
It’s is hard to believe that this extremely busy year for SETAC is drawing to a close with still so much ahead. We have the Boston meeting coming up in North America and planning for the World Congress in Berlin next May and other 2012 activities continues apace. So much has happened this year that I really need several corners to cover it all.
There are several key messages in our work this year. First, the SETAC global program is firmly in place, with SETAC participating in the Stockholm Convention, the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), the UN Global Mercury Partnership and with observer status at the global mercury negotiations. We have collaborated with the Global Environment Fund (GEF) on a survey of emerging chemicals management issues in developing countries. Our global science program -- annual meetings, journals, workshops, and advisory groups – and the membership both clearly benefit from this solid connection to the mainstream global environmental effort where new policies and approaches are being forged on behalf of a more sustainable planet.
This is the backdrop for the Berlin World Congress, which will feature sustainability as its main theme. We now have an advisory group on sustainability and people are collaborating in an interesting and active discussion on the subject and what it means for SETAC and our science. This discussion is certainly ambitious and is bringing SETAC science into the mix with the social and economic dimensions of sustainability. We hope that this discussion will generate some creative scientific thinking that will enhance and contribute to the global debate.
Much has happened on the ground within SETAC during the summer and since, beginning with the successful SETAC Africa branch meeting in Buea, Cameroon in early June. Some 200 people gathered and our African colleagues and friends took and important step toward achieving status as a full geographic unit within the Societ.
In July, we held a Pellston workshop in Wisconsin on Global Climate Change. And there was an excellent SETAC special topics meeting in Merida, Mexico in August, with attendance of 125 and very useful discussion of pollutants in the environment, fate and toxicity.
Scientific Affairs Manager Bruce Vigon and I joined several hundred scientists at the SETAC Latin America meeting in Cumana, Venezuela in mid-October for a very good program of science and networking. The SETAC Latin America geographic unit is growing steadily and we are looking forward to a closer link to the Brazilian Society of Ecotoxicology and with others in the region. We were particularly pleased to welcome 21 new members to SETAC in Venezuela and the SETAC Latin America number has now reached 150 and will see further increase in the year ahead.
As I write this, I am in Miami at the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) building a bridge between SETAC and journalists from the US and around the world. I have been very reassured by SEJ’s recognition of and appreciation for SETAC’s outstanding science and organizational reputation. Our members’ research and other activities will surely benefit from the openings to a wider audience that this connection can bring. Particularly heartening was the strong endorsement of a noted senior science writer that SETAC meetings were truly the place for journalists in search of the freshest and newest science and discussion.
With SETAC it is always important to look ahead to future meetings and new scientific issues and concerns. Notable programs for next year will include two Special Science Symposia in SETAC Europe in February and October, the first on Ecosystem Services and the second on Endocrine Disruptors, a US NSF-funded collaboration between SETAC North America and SETAC Latin America on a joint program on “Atmospheric Pollution and Megacities” and a number of regional chapter /branch meetings in all geographic units.
In addition to the regular annual meetings in Long Beach, California (North America) and Kumamoto, Japan (Asia Pacific) next year, the 2012 World Congress in Berlin offers us all a particular opportunity to showcase SETAC’s achievements and those of the membership. All signs point to a very dynamic meeting of 2,500 or more with a forward-looking scientific program and prominent attention to our world- wide presence and program. Our continued membership gains suggest that we may come to Berlin with a membership approaching 6,000, an incredible milestone when achieved. Can you imagine, 25 percent growth in membership in five years and during difficult economic times!!
With the Berlin World Congress in mind, I would like to challenge the various specialized advisory groups and special topic circles in SETAC to be looking at potential workshop ideas and fresh scientific challenges, and to present new proposals for the Pellston and other workshops program. In this way we will be able to point the way for SETAC’s scientific activities and direction in Berlin just as we celebrate the past. This will ensure that we remain on the scientific “cutting edge” where we most comfortably belong and for what SETAC is best known.
While the foregoing is a very positive and powerful statement of SETAC’s success, I would be remiss in not turning to the most human of dimensions and that is the SETAC family. I would like to offer a SETAC good-bye to Katrien Arijs, our colleague as Scientific and Operations Manager of SETAC Europe, as she moves on to another professional challenge outside of SETAC. Katrien has been a great friend and co-worker, and she deserves much credit for her many accomplishments while with SETAC. I am looking forward to seeing Katrien at future SETAC events and we wish her well in all of her future endeavors.
Professor Michael Kishimba (left) with Tanzanian Minister of Health David Mwakyusa at the March 2009 regional training workshop on risk assessment in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Finally, I am saddened to announce that we lost a treasured and respected friend and colleague with the passing of former SETAC Africa branch President Michael Kishimba of Tanzania in October. Michael was instrumental in building the foundation for SETAC Africa, for working to connect the region with the larger SETAC network and with global science. Most of all, Michael was an outstanding person, scientist and friend. Our thoughts go out to his family at this difficult time.
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