SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
 
  10 October 2013
Volume 14 Issue 10
 

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The 6th SETAC Africa Conference–A Great Success and Important Milestone in the Growth of an Up-and-Coming Geographic Unit

Patricia Bi Asanga Fai, SETAC Africa President and SETAC World Council Representative

poster sessions
Planning meeting on eve of conference.

The 6th SETAC Africa Conference took place at the InterContinental Hotel in Lusaka, Zambia from 2–3 September 2013. This was the first conference organized since SETAC Africa attained independent geographic unit status in May 2012. The conference was organized in collaboration with the Department of Chemistry at the University of Zambia, the Chemical Society of Zambia and the African Network for the Chemical Analysis of Pesticides (ANCAP), with support from SETAC Europe, SETAC World Council, the University of Zambia, the National Science and Technology Council of Zambia, Sasol, Rio Tinto and Syngenta.

ANCAP organized a well-attended, four-day summer school on Bioassays, Bioindicators and Biomarkers, which ended the day before the conference. A one-day short course on computer-based methods in toxicology was delivered by Philip Judson.

poster sessions
Planning meeting on eve of conference.

On the eve of the conference, a preparatory meeting was held at the University of Zambia. The SETAC Africa executive council members, SETAC Europe Executive Director, Bart Bosveld, and some members of the local organizing committee met for the first time. After the meeting, the registration desk was set up at the Intercontinental Hotel, and registration began immediately.

Seventy-six participants from 18 countries around the world attended the conference. Ten African countries were represented: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Meeting participants outside of Africa came from Asia (Japan), Europe (Poland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom) and North America (USA and Canada). Twenty-one new members joined SETAC Africa at the conference, nine of which were Zambians. This was a big achievement for SETAC Africa, given that SETAC was previously almost completely unknown in Zambia. Before this conference we only had one SETAC Africa member from Zambia.

poster sessions
Conference participants after the opening ceremony.

The conference was opened by the vice chancellor of the University of Zambia. Local Organising Committee Chair Onesmus Munyati, SETAC Africa President Patricia Fai, and SETAC Europe Executive Director Bart Bosveld welcomed participants to the conference during the opening ceremony. Scientific Organising Committee Chair Silke Bollmohr was given the opportunity to introduce the scientific aspects of the conference to participants. Three keynote lectures were delivered during the two conference days, with two of the speakers being important personalities from the National Environment Council of Zambia, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Africa.

There were 74 presentations in 11 different sessions of high scientific quality, covering a range of subjects, such as monitoring, fate and effects of pesticides, and other emerging pollutants and ecotoxicology in tropical environments. New topics such as climate change, emerging pollutants and possible solutions, and nanotechnology and the environment were covered for the first time in SETAC Africa, demonstrating advanced scientific thought in Africa. It was evident that many presentations were solution-driven and not only science-driven. This is important if we remember the outcome of the last conference in Cameroon in 2011, which emphasized that linkages among management (or policy), industry and science need to be established and that Africa needs to come up with its own science-driven solutions. Sessions such as "Environmental Regulation of Pesticides in Africa" and "Sharing Knowledge about Chemicals in the Environment" dealt with these issues in particular. There were lively discussions at the end of some sessions that led to actioned resolutions at the General Assembly and Council meetings after the conference. One of these includes the formation of working groups within SETAC Africa on important themes identified from the presentations.

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The SETAC Global Horizon Scanning Project corner.

The SETAC Global Horizon Scanning Project was successfully launched at the meeting by Bryan Brooks and Alistair Boxall. They were prominently situated throughout the conference which led to very positive feedback from participants.

At the closing ceremony, book prizes were awarded to all student presenters, thanks to the books donated by SETAC. Some of the books were donated to the Department of Chemistry of the University of Zambia in recognition of their collaboration in organizing the conference. The conference was closed by the SETAC Africa president who thanked all participants and everyone who had contributed in any way towards the success of the conference.

SETAC Africa General Assembly and Council meetings
The SETAC Africa General Assembly meeting took place immediately after the conference closing ceremony, and new members were encouraged to participate. After reading, adopting and discussing matters arising from the minutes of the General Assembly meeting held at the Cameroon meeting, the SETAC Africa president briefed everyone on the activities that had been carried out by the council members since 2011, which culminated in SETAC Africa becoming an independent geographic unit in May 2012 at the SETAC World Conference in Berlin, Germany. This was much appreciated, and some individuals (particularly Yogi Naik, a former SETAC Africa president) congratulated the council on this achievement. Professor Naik also acknowledged some individuals who had worked hard and dreamt of such an achievement for SETAC Africa, especially Fred Heimbach (not present in Lusaka), Paul van den Brink, Derek Muir and Lorraine Maltby (all present). I wish to add here former SETAC Global Executive Director Mike Mozur, the entire SETAC World Council, SETAC Europe past presidents, former SETAC Europe Executive Director Dave Arnold, and SETAC Europe staff who also supported us a lot in this journey. The contribution of the late Michael Kishimba, past SETAC Africa president, was also acknowledged.

We then went on to carry out elections of council members. Nine out of a maximum of 13 council positions were open for nominations and election of new members. I would personally like to thank Silke Bollmohr who stepped down from the council as she had completed her term of office. She is the immediate past general secretary and a pioneer SETAC Africa member who has served SETAC Africa with dedication since 2002 and still remains committed to SETAC Africa.

Nominations and elections were done successfully and we now have a full and highly motivated council.

poster sessions
The new SETAC Africa council members with SETAC Europe Executive Director Bart Bosveld and SETAC Europe President Laurent Lagadic.

Two countries offered to host the next conference, and it was decided that Nigeria will host the SETAC Africa biennial conference in 2015, while Zimbabwe will host in 2017. It was also decided that we should work towards the possibility of SETAC Africa putting in a bid to host the SETAC World Congress in 2020, possibly in South Africa.

A council meeting was held the next day (Wednesday, 4 September) and 10 of the council members attended. Bart Bosveld and Laurent Lagadic participated actively in both the SETAC Africa General Assembly and council meetings to which they had been invited. Patricia Asanga Fai (formerly vice and acting president) assumed the presidency of SETAC Africa officially at this meeting. Other executive council members, as well as the four regional managers were elected by council members .

Discussions in the council meeting were very lively and members readily took on various responsibilities. The Nigerians promised to organize a regional conference next year (2014) to raise more awareness in the central and western region about SETAC as they plan towards hosting the SETAC Africa biennial meeting in 2015.

I wish to thank everyone who has helped us in making this conference a success. This was a very important milestone for SETAC Africa, and I believe it has given us significant leverage to move forward.

Executive Council Members
Patricia Bi Asanga Fai, President, Cameroon, asangapb@yahoo.com
Onwurah Ikechukwu, Vice President, Nigeria, ikechukwu.onwurah@unn.edu.ng
Aviti John Mmochi, Secretary, Tanzania, mmochi2003@yahoo.co.uk
Randal Albrtus, Treasurer, South Africa, randal.alberus@sasol.com

Regional Managers
Melusi Thwala, Southern Africa, South Africa, mthwala@csir.co.za
Eihab Elsir, Northern Africa, Sudan, eihabelias@yahoo.com
Otitoju Olewale, West and Central Africa, Nigeria, Otitoju.olewale@yahoo.com
Robinson Mdegela, Eastern Africa, Tanzania, rmdegela@yahoo.com

Council Members
Onesmus Munyati, Zambia, omunyati@gmail.com
Opeolu Beatrice, South Africa, opeolub@cput.ac.za
Shiv Prakash, Zambia
Udebuani Chika Angela, Nigeria, chibufo@yahoo.com

Student Representative
Olorunfemi Oyime, Nigeria, poisefemi@gmail.com

Author’s contact information: asangapb@yahoo.com

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