SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
10 August 2017
Volume 18 Issue 8

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SETAC – Beyond Conferences and Journals

Tamar Schlekat, SETAC Scientific Affairs Manager

SETAC members know that SETAC's mission is to support the development of principles and practices for the protection, enhancement and management of sustainable environmental quality and ecosystem integrity. If asked how SETAC promotes its mission, members may mention publications, global conferences, professional training courses, special events and workshops. These are familiar activities, but there is a lot more to SETAC than that!

To help promote Environmental Quality Through Science®, SETAC collaborates on projects with other societies, foundations, research associations, governmental entities and intergovernmental organizations. These projects include organizing peer review panels for technical reports and grant applications, method and tool development, public outreach, and education and capacity building programs. Proposed and organized by SETAC governing bodies, active members, interest group steering committees or SETAC committees, such projects are managed through the SETAC offices. Implementation of these projects depends on the efforts of SETAC members who are willing to share their knowledge and their time.

Some of SETAC’s most recent and long enduring projects with non-government organizations have been collaborations with the United Nations Environment (UNE, previously called UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). SETAC partners with the UNE within the Life Cycle Initiative (LCI), whose goal is to foster life cycle thinking and life cycle approaches globally. SETAC scientists are heavily involved in projects within the parameters of the LCI, often around methods and tools development and capacity building. SETAC is also a member of the WHO Chemical Risk Assessment Network, whose goal is to improve chemical risk assessment globally and fulfill policies of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). SETAC’s contributions to the network are focused on knowledge sharing, education and training through providing chemical assessment and risk management trainings in developing countries. In yet another collaboration with the UNE, SETAC is a member of the Global Mercury Partnership. Last year, SETAC managed the development of the Central Mercury Knowledge Platform within the Environment Live database for the Global Environment Facility (GEF). As to SETAC’s ISO collaborations, those include involvement in ISO Technical Committees through SETAC Interest Groups (IGs).

As for SETAC collaborations with government agencies, those have occurred with the United Sates Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), Environment and Climate Change Canada, and United States Army Public Health Center (USAPHC) Wildlife Toxicity Assessments, among others. For the USAPHC, members of SETAC’s Ecological Risk Assessment Interest Group, in collaboration with the SETAC North America Science Committee, have provided expert peer review of several Wildlife Toxicity Assessment reports. As a matter of fact, the Science Committee is currently updating its standard operating procedures for peer review in readiness for other similar opportunities.

SETAC’s International Programs Committee (IPC) has been active in training and education activities. Most recently, in April 2017, the SETAC IPC organized a symposium on the Evolution of the Sciences of Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT) and Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP) substances to inform participants of the 8th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention. The IPC is also responsible for a series of symposia focused on chemical assessment and management in conjunction with global meetings focused on knowledge sharing and training. In 2016, in conjunction with the SETAC Asia-Pacific Meeting in Singapore, IPC sponsored the Chemicals Risk Assessment Approach and Needs for the Asia-Pacific Region Symposium. A similar symposium focused on the Latin America region is planned for 7 September of this year in Santos, São Paulo, Brazil.

SETAC geographic units are also continuously working towards science outreach to the public and policymakers. An ad hoc subgroup of the SETAC North America Public Outreach Committee was able to successfully reach lawmakers, and key aspects of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and was signed into law in the US in June 2016, reflects best available science as raised by SETAC scientists. Across the pond, SETAC Europe has recently joined the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Stakeholder Bureau, representing “academic” stakeholder organizations (i.e., scientific associations) and will work towards integrating best science in policy making.

Partnerships with established organization on projects such as these progress the advancement and application of scientific research related to environmental toxicology and chemistry. Initiatives span from training and education to promotion of the use of science in environmental policy and decision-making. SETAC members provide the expertise while the SETAC staff offer administrative support. If you know of an opportunity for SETAC or if you are interested in getting involved in any of the existing projects, please reach out to Tamar Schlekat.

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