Global Problem, Local Solution: Organization of Regional Chapters
Jing You, SETAC Asia/Pacific Board of Directors
A society must grow larger and smaller at the same time: larger through strengthening international collaboration and smaller through organizing regional chapters. And the key word for both directions is communication.
To provide a forum for people in various disciplines from academia, business and government to work together to resolve environmental problems and to fulfill the goals of SETAC in the Asia/Pacific region, good communication is vital. Although individuals have different opinions about how communication could and should work, it is of great interest to promote internal communication among SETAC members as well as external communication between this Society and the public.
On the one hand, the internal communication, such as the discussions that occur during SETAC conferences, workshops and scientific committees, fosters a friendly environment for multidisciplinary interaction among the members. On the other hand, it is important to share ideas and techniques with the risk managers and policy-makers outside the Society, as well as to improve public understanding of environmental issues from a scientific basis. This must be accomplished through clear external communication. Just like other geographic units, SETAC Asia/Pacific is comprised of individuals from both developed and developing countries, and regions that are at different stages in resolving environmental problems. Therefore, there are no uniform approaches or solutions to environmental problems across the whole geographic unit. A variety of collaborations must be established to gain win-win results. This requires understanding global problems on a local basis.
The organization of regional chapters is one way to improve communication across SETAC Asia/Pacific. Because regional travel is quite expensive and time-consuming. The development of regional chapters provides a way to shorten distances and keep strong interactions among the members. Within a smaller group there is generally more involvement of individual members in local activities and more intensive interaction. In addition, a smaller group might provide more opportunity for post-graduate student involvement and can help student members grow in scientific knowledge and leadership. Finally, local chapters know local problems better, communicate with local governments better, and serve local communities better. The development of regional chapters will help SETAC Asia/Pacific to grow and can fulfill the goal of SETAC in this geographic unit.
Currently SETAC Australia (comprised of members from Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea) is well organized and achieving great performance after years of development, while the local chapters in other nations in Asia/Pacific region are still under development. We believe the collaboration among the local chapters will resolve the global problem. As the old saying goes “many a little makes a mickle.”
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