Gertie Arts, SETAC World Council Vice President

SETAC Strategic Planning Process

The purpose of the SETAC strategic plan is to define strategic priorities for the next three to five years to fulfill and enhance our Society’s vision and mission as laid down in the bylaws and constitutions. The SETAC Strategic Plan also defines a set of objectives for each priority and actions to achieve these objectives. It provides a structure and process for SETAC to achieve these priorities.

As the SETAC strategic plan requires periodic review and updates, and as the last strategic plans dated from 2003 (original) and from 2007, 2010 and 2014 (revisions), it was timely to work on a new plan. At the global level, the strategic planning process is the responsibility of the SETAC World Council (SWC) Vice President. In the light of my task this year, I took this opportunity to lead the process for achieving an update of the strategic plan with the input of all geographic units (GUs).

Besides the update of the SETAC strategic plan, it was the desire of the SWC that the Strategic Planning Committee should take a visionary look at the Society’s overarching goals as outlined in the SETAC constitution. The SWC requested that the committee formulate a plan that complements the goals in the constitution, which is embedded in the current landscape for environmental sciences and management.

It is the overall aim of the SWC that annual plans will be established based on the strategic plan. These annual plans are also tied to the annual budgets to reflect the priorities of any given year. The annual plans will identify goals and actions to advance specific priorities and objectives from the strategic plan and associate them with schedules, budgets and responsible parties. In this way, the strategic plan will play an active role in the planning process within the SETAC organization.

Global Strategic Planning Committee and Its Activities

A global SETAC Strategic Planning Committee was established and charged with developing the strategic plan. In order to achieve global representation, the presidents of the five GUs were asked to delegate two representatives from their respective GU. With the addition of the global executive director, the global scientific affairs manager and the vice president, this committee took on the charge with enthusiasm. Members of the global Strategic Planning Committee were Gertie Arts, Tamar Schlekat, Charlie Menzie, Michelle Bloor, Annegaaike Leopold, Amanda Reichelt-Brushett, Carlos Arias-Barreiro, Otitoju Olawale, Beatrice Opeolu, Roman P. Lanno, Mary Reiley, Tatiana Furley and Daniel Wunderlin.

Since the committee was global, it was determined that the best path forward would be to work on the plan as a web share file (Google doc) and have a series of web conferences to discuss and debate. The first web conference was held 14 June, followed by three other web conference calls. In between the meetings, numerous text proposals and comments were entered into Google docs and subsequently discussed in the conference calls. The meetings were very early in the morning for some members and quite late for others, but they were always very lively as the committee was very engaged in the process.

The draft strategic plan is composed of two main parts: The first part summarizes SETAC’s vision, mission, principles, values and approach. The second part identifies priority topics and priority objectives. Complementing the plan, the committee envisioned a tool comprising a table with the priority topics and priority objectives to be used by SWC and at the level of individual GUs and possibly chapters and branches as well. The tool could be used to assess current standing of a SETAC entity against the strategic priorities, identify annual goals, as well as request assistance from SWC where needed (for GU-level assessments). This exercise will provide the SWC with a global overview of the priority topics and priority objectives at each GU level that will inform and support SETAC governance. These topics and priorities shall be taken into account when formulating future strategic plans.

Next Steps

The draft strategic plan was finalized by the global SETAC Strategic Planning Committee this week. It will be sent to the SWC to be discussed during SWC meeting at the SETAC North America 39th Annual Meeting, held from 4–8 November in Sacramento, California. When amended and approved by the SWC, the contents of the new strategic plan will be shared with you in another SETAC Globe article, and the detailed plan will be made available on the SETAC website. The Strategic Planning Committee is very excited about the progress and hopes that the new plan will help SETAC navigate the next five years and result in significantly advancing our mutual vision of Environmental Quality Through Science®.

Author’s contact information: gertie.arts@wur.nl

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