SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
9 September 2016
Volume 17 Issue 9

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Expand Your Horizons at the SETAC World Congress

Charles Menzie, SETAC Global Executive Director

SETAC World Congress

There is much to be excited about for those planning to attend the 7th SETAC World Congress/SETAC North America 37th Annual Meeting, which will be held from 6–10 November in Orlando, Florida. In addition to the great platform and poster presentations, plenary speakers, networking events and amazing social activities, SETAC will be presenting the results of the Global Horizon Scanning Project (GHSP). For those of you not familiar with this initiative, SETAC through the leadership of Bryan Brooks and others, has been holding a number of workshop-related activities around the globe that are focused on identifying the most important and pressing research questions for SETAC sciences. The raw thinking has been yours! The process has taken place in each of our five geographic units (GUs) – Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America. Questions have also arisen through collaborations with other professional societies. The initial part of the process involved the generation of questions. This was a broad collective effort which reflected the thinking of SETAC members across the diverse geographic and sector perspectives. The next step was to take that raw material – questions and statements by you and other SETAC members – and derive a set of questions that captured the essence and the weight of the collective deliberations. This was accomplished by holding Global Horizon Scanning workshops within each of the five GUs. Members of SETAC, who represented our tripartite composition and who could knowledgably examine the raw questions, met for one or two days to discuss the raw material and to frame the top-level questions that emerged. The SETAC World Congress will be the first major unveiling of this effort.

The various GUs have generated between 20 and 40 high-level questions, with about 20 being the most common number. An example of a question from North America is, “What are the impacts of contaminants over multiple generations: incorporating evolutionary concepts of adaptation, plasticity, epigenetics, fitness-costs?” An example of a question from the other side of the world within Asia/Pacific is, “What are the combined impacts of various agrochemicals (e.g., veterinary medicines, pesticides) and eutrophication from intensive terrestrial farming operations on the health of aquatic and terrestrial organisms downstream?” The approximately 120 GHSP questions reflect themes that our GUs commonly share as well as address environmental issues that are particular to a location. For example, a question formulated during the workshop in Africa is, “How can we incorporate indigenous knowledge systems to develop sustainable environmental protection programs in Africa?”

Much work has been done to assemble the questions and to launch efforts at the SETAC World Congress, designed to move these questions forward within SETAC science as well as into the national and international research and policy community. Bruce Vigon, SETAC’s Science Manger, has been reviewing the questions with an eye toward distribution of these thought starters among the various SETAC Advisory Groups. SETAC is also putting together a steering committee, co-chaired by Mary Reiley and Annegaaike Leopold, to guide the next steps of outreach and implementation of GHSP outputs. This committee will be comprised of representatives from the GHSP leadership, the GUs and other committees within SETAC, with equal representation from the various sectors, as well as SETAC’s science managers. The committee will provide an internal lens to help guide science programming within SETAC as well as identify how to advance the work of SETAC externally. Particular emphasis will be given to how to reach and inform research funding organizations and policy makers.

So, seize this opportunity to broaden your horizon on the future of SETAC sciences and possibilities. Learn about the GHSP and ponder the questions that have formed from our collective thinking. Plan to attend the Thursday morning session entitled “Toward Sustainable Environmental Quality: Identifying Global Research Needs Through the SETAC Horizon Scanning Project.”

See you in Orlando!

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