Global Executive Director’s Corner—Early 2011 Marked by a String of Major Events
If this is June, it must be time to report on another great SETAC Europe annual meeting. Milan brought together almost 2,200 environmental scientists and practitioners, with outstanding plenary speakers and a full scientific program which will be reported in detail in upcoming editions of the Globe. It was great to see Steve Eisenreich honored with the Founders Award, and his personal remarks upon receiving the award were quite moving. Our advisory groups were very busy. Two—nanomaterials and life cycle assessment—are beginning to engage in the policy dialogue in their areas, doing so under agreed SETAC outreach procedures. And, with successful meetings driving membership, the Society now boasts almost 5,700 members, a gain of almost 20 percent since 2008.
Another impressive aspect of the meeting, and of course of all SETAC meetings around the world, was the strong tripartite message evident in the scientific sessions as well as in global and SETAC Europe governance. I should mention that the Society’s commitment to tripartite debate and consensus was one of the key aspects of SETAC that attracted me to the Society when I became Executive Director five years ago. With the global environmental debate often politicized, I am proud, as I know you are, to highlight our tripartite culture (government, academia and business) as a compelling basis for promoting “Environmental Quality through Science.”®
For those of you who did not make it to Milan, let me recap one key slide from the opening ceremony listing the six major events held within the Society in the first four months of the year. Two Pellston workshops in January—on pollinators in Pensacola, and on global life cycle databases in Japan (done jointly with the United Nations Environmental Programme)—launched this uniquely hectic period. February brought SETAC Europe’s special symposium on mixture toxicity in Brussels and a life cycle analysis symposium in Budapest. SETAC North America stepped up in April with a major, 250 participant special topics meeting on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Lastly, a workshop jointly sponsored by SETAC and Health Canada was held on the top questions regarding effects of pharmaceuticals in the environment.
Presenting that slide at the opening was a moment of special pride for me. But that, in fact, was not all of our science in this hectic period. Also in April, our pharmaceuticals and human health risk assessment advisory groups contributed comments to the Strategic Approach to International Chemical Management (SAICM) consideration of two new “emerging” issues: environmentally persistent pharmaceutical pollutants (EPPPs) and endocrine disruptors. It was also satisfying to see SETAC represented at a side event on new scientific trends at the Fifth Conference of Parties of the Stockholm Convention in Geneva.
The SETAC office staffs in Brussels (also working hard on the Milan meeting) and Pensacola and the numerous volunteers in the respective steering groups were responsible for this truly historic burst of activity for the Society. They merit our sincere appreciation.
These many activities have their roots in work done last year, a year in which the SETAC global program came fully together. With this in mind, I would like to call your attention to the just completed SETAC Annual Report for 2010. I consider the report the best one yet, both for its confirmation of the comprehensive SETAC program as well as for its attractive layout and presentation. Please give particular attention to pages six and seven, which convey a very useful schematic overview of the Society, its membership and organization and the breadth of activities at the global and geographic unit levels. I hope that you will be able to take the time to look at the report and call it to the attention of your science minded friends, whether in SETAC or not. It tells the story of a hard working SETAC and can be a spur to increasing membership.
This momentum will continue through into 2012 when we meet in Berlin in May for the 6th SETAC World Congress. The World Congress affords us an opportunity every four years to take stock of our accomplishments as a Society and to chart our future course. Given that the Rio Plus 20 meeting and the Third International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM3) are scheduled in tandem with the Congress, we are undertaking a broader discussion of such global themes as sustainability and are encouraging renewed interest in interdisciplinary activities. We hope you will reach out to the advisory group and committee chairs, as well as your colleagues on the World Council and geographic unit leaders, to become involved in this interesting and challenging effort. Further stepping stones to Berlin this year include the SETAC Africa Branch meeting in Buea, Cameroon (May 30-June 1), SETAC Latin America in Cumana, Venezuela (October 15-19) and at the SETAC North America meeting in Boston (November 13-17).
I look forward to seeing you at one or more of our meetings over the year ahead.