Global Executive Director's Corner
Our SETAC World Congress year is off to a great start and the long-awaited World Congress is now upon us. Preparations for the meeting have been intense and the Berlin organizers, led by Henner Hollert and Norbert Scholz, along with SETAC Europe Executive Director Dave Arnold and his great team, have put together an outstanding program. More than 2,500 participants will gather in Berlin to celebrate the Society's successes and scientific contributions since the last Congress in Sydney in 2008. There is definitely much to celebrate. SETAC now stands proudly with a proven global track record of science, education and capacity building, and impact on policy. And with a global membership now exceeding 6,000, this impact can only increase as we work toward the 2016 World Congress in Orlando, Florida, USA.
The Berlin program represents, in the best SETAC tradition, a well-integrated and imaginative interdisciplinary, even transdisciplinary program of sessions and plenary speakers. You have heard much over the past year about SETAC and sustainability and this will be prominently featured with a special session and advisory group meeting on Monday, 21 May, a special session on Tuesday, 22 May and a panel discussion as part of the Congress closing ceremony on Thursday, 24 May. The new Advisory Group on Sustainability has put together an initial discussion paper to set the stage for a broader SETAC-wide consideration of sustainability. I hope that you will follow this discussion and contribute through input or participation in the discussions in Berlin as well as in the upcoming SETAC meetings in Kumamoto, Japan in September and in Long Beach, California in November. Transdisciplinary science is the conceptual starting point and I expect that the outcome of the process will be a major plus for SETAC science.
The World Congress will also be the setting for announcing the Rachel Carson Award, the Society's premier award to recognize contributions to global science. There will be other major awards announced, and I am pleased that we will be able to honor SETAC members for their capacity-building activities around the world with the Global Partners Capacity-Building Award. With education and training as strategic Society goals, along with our efforts to connect with counterparts around the globe, this award is particularly important and I hope that members will nominate great candidates in the future as they consider ways to become personally more involved in this area. You will also hear more about the newest addition to our program of professional recognition as the editors of ET&C and IEAM publicize the newly authorized Best Paper Awards, to be awarded for the first time in 2013.
As you will see in Berlin and via reporting in the Globe, the global program is extensive and new opportunities arise all of the time. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is looking at existing water quality standards and guidelines for aquatic ecosystems and is crafting a plan to develop international water quality guidelines for aquatic ecosystems. Currently UNEP is in the process of identifying the technical working groups and experts who would be required to evaluate the existing standards and guidelines and then develop the set of international water quality guidelines for aquatic systems. They are looking to include SETAC in this effort.
Similarly, there may be opportunities for SETAC on the global marine debris front and we have made initial contacts with the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), which is an advisory body for the UN system.
SETAC's success is generated by the great collaboration among our member scientists and environmental professionals and by excellent staff support from the Pensacola and Brussels offices, where people are working hard every day for SETAC. Our success also depends on a very solid tradition of tripartite governance tradition and structure. Let me encourage all who would like to contribute to the Society's future success to become involved, via committees and advisory groups, via steering groups for workshops, meetings or symposia. Only with the strongest of membership participation can SETAC take it "to the next level" as people say these days and achieve around the world the great credibility and reputation that has underpinned the SETAC story in North America and Europe over the past decades. With this in mind, I want to recognize the great work ongoing in SETAC Asia/Pacific and in SETAC Latin America and to encourage our colleagues in the SETAC Africa Branch as they work to finalize their preparations to become the fifth full geographic unit within SETAC. The World Congress offers an excellent opportunity for each member to widen the circle of his or her SETAC friends and contacts, and I hope that you will visit the geographic unit booths during the week to make such new contacts and acquaintances.
On a personal note, I was very fortunate to have had a career with the US Department of State prior to joining SETAC and as a result my family and I enjoyed four fascinating years in Berlin during the time the Berlin Wall fell. I grew to love the city and believe it a great setting for the World Congress. It is a city evolving and renewing, even after more than 20 years since those historic events. I hope that all of you who make it to Berlin will have the chance to revel in the World Congress while exploring a very livable, green and historic city, where the environment is a central focus of the Berliners. I will have my usual Open Door session (0800—0930 on Wednesday, 23 May in Room 30212) and hope to see you there. As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on SETAC and how to strengthen and improve our programs and activities.
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