SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
  16 February 2012
Volume 13 Issue 2

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Global Executive Director's Corner

Mike Mozur

Each New Year brings considerable promise and 2012 certainly does for me, as I start my sixth year with SETAC as Global Executive Director. This is a special year indeed, with the upcoming 6th SETAC World Congress in May in Berlin-a major SETAC event. The local organizing and science committees for the Congress are working extremely hard to ensure a truly outstanding meeting, and I believe that our members will see an impressive demonstration of SETAC as a fully-fledged global scientific society with meaningful and positive impact around the world. I think that the best evidence of this success is our growing membership, now totaling some 6,000 scientists and environmental practitioners, a gain of almost 25 percent from just four years ago.

Anchoring the SETAC global program to the international environmental network is my particular piece of the challenge. I can report that SETAC continues to be a welcomed and respected partner with United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and other international governmental organizations and we are building ties with a range of important global and regional environmental NGOs.

From left: Mike Mozur, Sylive Lemmet (Head of UNEPO DTIE), Guido Sonnemann (Co-chair of the UENP SETAC Life Cycle Initiative), Sonia Validia (with DTIE).

I recently joined our SETAC Europe Council for its successful winter meeting in Brussels and was able to take advantage of the trip to meet intensively with UNEP officials working on a range of issues of interest to SETAC. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to meet again with Sylvie Lemmet, the head of UNEP’s Paris-based Division of Trade, Investment and Economics, which is where SETAC-relevant activities are based, along with Guido Sonnemann, with whom I co-chair the UNEP SETAC Life Cycle Initiative. We met to brainstorm on the future of the Initiative and its upcoming Phase 3 and to explore new possibilities for collaboration in the chemicals area.

I also enjoyed meeting with Tim Kasten, the new head of UNEP Chemicals, and was pleased that he was very familiar with SETAC and eager to find common scientific ground with us. Contacts at the Secretariat for the key environmental conventions (Stockholm, Rotterdam, and Basel) were similarly interested in working with SETAC and its membership. I hope that our meetings in Berlin (Germany), Kumamoto (Japan), and Long Beach (California, USA) this year will heighten our members’ awareness of this global context for our science.

From left: Mike Mozur, Sylive Lemmet (Head of UNEPO DTIE), Guido Sonnemann (Co-chair of the UENP SETAC Life Cycle Initiative), Sonia Validia (with DTIE).

In addition to this big picture reach, we are pleased that our scientific program continues to flourish at the geographic unit and individual discipline level. For example, SETAC Europe will be holding two Special Symposia, this month on ecosystem services and in October on endocrine disruptors. Europe is also working on its annual LCA Case Studies Symposium in Copenhagen. In this issue of the Globe you will find articles about last month’s SETAC Europe short course on engineered nanoparticles and the upcoming SETAC Central and East Europe Branch meeting in Krakow, Poland. Also notable is the effort in SETAC North America to bridge to the human health side by organizing a human health and ecotoxicological data integration meeting/workshop with the Society of Toxicology (to be held in May at Research Triangle Park in North Carolina). Proposals for Pellston workshop are always welcome as are all efforts to identify cutting edge topics for future workshops and symposia.

Although I have mentioned this before, I want again to extend a warm note of welcome to our newest regional chapters, those of Brazil and Argentina in SETAC Latin America. Both will bring a large group of ecotoxicologists and risk assessors to SETAC and their respective regional chapter meetings should attract some 700 participants to Recife in September and several hundred to Buenos Aires in October. Similarly, our colleagues from Down Under will have their major regional chapter meeting in Brisbane in July, again with several hundred in attendance. These meetings, coupled with already mentioned major geographic unit meetings and well-established regional chapter meetings in North America and Europe, and you can see the vitality of our Society. And, I am pleased that our SETAC Africa branch will be joining the West African Society of Toxicology for a regional meeting in Benin in February (as you are reading this), further helping SETAC Africa to progress toward the goal of full geographic unit status in the foreseeable future.

Lastly, I would like to use this opportunity again to highlight SETAC’s tripartite vision and science. Over the past year, we have found that we must work hard and consistently to counter misunderstandings by individuals or organizations who believe that SETAC is an organization, which is unduly influenced, in terms of its science and activities, by the business sector. I mention this in order to ask all SETAC members to help correct such misrepresentations and to reinforce the fact that SETAC is a vibrant, tripartite Society whose primary goal is to bring scientists from government, business/industry and academia together in the shared pursuit of "Environmental Quality through Science." We are proud of all of our member scientists from all sectors for their objectivity, intellectual rigor, independent thought and support for the SETAC ethos of building tripartite consensus. In this regard, I would encourage all SETAC members to join me in ensuring that this fundamental philosophy of ours is correctly and fairly understood by those misinformed.

You can see that we are off and running toward another great year, with much to do and with many challenges. A year ago we had the singular accomplishment of conducting two global Pellston workshops virtually simultaneously on opposite sides of the planet. This year our efforts are focused understandably on the World Congress and its special moment of celebrating our growth and development as a Society since Sydney in 2008.

I hope to see many of you at the World Congress in Berlin, a great and historical city with a great environmental story, and in Kumamoto and Long Beach as well. And remember, I always welcome hearing from you, our valued members, so please reach out when you have an issue, question, or concern.

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