SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
  3 November 2011
Volume 12 Issue 11

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Sustainability in SETAC – Boston, Berlin and Beyond

SETAC Advisory Group on Sustainability

Sustainability is again a featured topic at this year’s annual meeting in Boston, in anticipation of next year’s World Congress, where the primary theme centers on Sustainability. The options available for having a 'green meeting' have expanded, and as transportation to and from the meeting is the key factor in calculating your meeting carbon footprint, we do have online links to purchase carbon offsets. The theme for this year’s meeting, "Navigating Environmental Challenges: Historical Lessons Guiding Future Directions", offers a conundrum. The societal challenge of flourishing under the constraints of demanding a sustainable supply rate of ecological goods and services is unprecedented for a planet with some seven billion humans. But, we as a society may be the first to fully appreciate the need to shift to a sustainable relationship with our supporting landscape, and we can learn from the Romans, Mayans, and Easter Islanders

In Boston, those lessons may be discussed in the poster sessions on sustainable fish populations, green chemistry markets, and an intriguing item discussing sustainable ethics. Four posters have the word ‘sustainability’ in the title, and 14 use it as a key word. While only two platform presentations use the word in the title, 18 use it as a key word. Also, a new Debate Series focusing on Wicked Problems kicks-off Tuesday morning with four talks on the history and theory of sustainability followed by a proper Oxford-style debate on the proposition that "Science is the primary contribution of SETAC to the global dialog on sustainability." There will be a vote at the end of the debate to gage the success of each panel in persuading the audience as to the 'rightness' of their position! We anticipate channeling the key points and conclusions of these discussions into the global sustainability discussion in SETAC, much as has been done at recent SETAC meetings around the world in Milan, Buea (Cameroon), and Cumana (Venezuela) this year, and in Seville, Guangzhou, and Portland in 2010.

The newly formed SETAC Advisory Group on Sustainability will meet on Monday at 4 pm in Room 303. Please feel free to attend and join in the dialog. Part of the discussion will focus on how SETAC-NA can contribute to the Berlin meeting, with a theme of "Securing a sustainable future: Integrating science, policy, and people." The Advisory Group anticipates working on a SETAC position paper on sustainability for inclusion in the Rio+20 meeting next year and contributing to the "Berlin Declaration on Sustainability" with the intent of establishing a sound theoretical foundation for SETAC’s involvement in sustainability.


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