Karel De Schamphelaere, Vice President of SETAC Europe and Chair of the Long Range Planning Committee
Every three years, the SETAC Europe Long Range Planning Committee designs a strategic plan, which allows SETAC Europe to focus on key areas that support our Society and the scientific communities we aim to represent, including environmental toxicology and chemistry and risk assessment. For the period of 2018–2020, the following eight strategic goals have been defined and approved by the SETAC Europe Council. In addition, “goalkeepers” have been appointed as the responsible council members to move these goals forward starting in 2018.
- Along the lines of earlier activities within SETAC, and to strengthen the SETAC slogan “Environmental Quality Through Science®,” SETAC Europe will pay special attention to quality and credibility of science in environmental toxicology and chemistry and risk assessment. This includes striving for open science (data availability and accessibility, including full documentation to support further use), stimulating and training researchers to conduct reproducible science that can be used in regulation, and supporting science-based risk communication (as opposed to emotion- or sensation-based communication). Goalkeeper: Thomas-Benjamin Seiler.
- SETAC Europe will facilitate optimization of processes and rates of transfer of science to regulation. To this end, we aim at improving interactions between SETAC Europe, stakeholders and regulatory bodies (e.g., participation in regulatory discussion forums). We will stimulate discussion about the problems and perceived issues related to the application of science in the regulation process and also propose workable solutions. Finally, we will use the results of the global horizon scanning program, aiming for the inclusion of key research questions in our field into national and international funding programs. Goalkeeper: Elke Zimmer.
- SETAC Europe will continue organizing “not-to-be-missed” meetings that excel in scientific quality, networking opportunities, stimulation of transdisciplinary collaboration and the overall meeting experience. We will continue to use our members’ and participants’ inputs and feedbacks to further improve our annual meetings in Rome in 2018, Helsinki in 2019 and Ireland in 2020. We will also organize a series of smaller meetings on timely and regulatory pressing themes, such as the forthcoming SETAC Europe Special Science Symposia (SESSS) on “Extrapolation of Effects Across Biological Levels: Challenges to Implement Scientific Approaches in Regulation” and the SETAC Europe 24th LCA Symposium on “Food, Fiber, Feed, Fertilizer, Fuel and Other Resources: The Role of LCA in Shaping the Future.” Finally, we will start to explore the use of new conference technologies and keep stimulating transdisciplinary collaboration through the organization of joint meetings or special sessions with other professional societies such as EUROTOX. Goalkeeper: Karel De Schamphelaere.
- SETAC Europe will optimize the SETAC Europe award program to acknowledge aspects that are gaining increased attention in our scientific community, some of which are reflected in our two first strategic goals. It is likely this will involve the establishment of novel award categories, in addition to already existing awards. The success of this goal will partly depend on award sponsors. The overall aim of our awards program will not change: to award individuals that set examples in, amongst others, publishing, presenting, scientific credibility, education and risk communication. Goalkeeper: Annegaaike Leopold.
- SETAC Europe will aim to develop the “SETAC Europe Certification of Environmental Risk Assessor Program” as a must-do for environmental scientists aiming to work as a risk assessor. We have learned a lot during the first three years after the launch of the program, and we have a clear view on how to further tailor the CRA program to your needs. For instance, we will implement an optimized program structure, offer a broad set of attractive specialization courses and training opportunities for career-long learning, and simplify the evaluation procedures and administrative burdens. Goalkeeper: Kees van Gestel.
- SETAC Europe will aim to further expand size, connectivity, recognition and transdisciplinary activity of the SETAC Europe network. High on our priority list is to learn from all of you, to identify what you expect from being a SETAC member, SETAC partner and meeting attendee. Similarly, we want to inform you how everyone (yes: also you) can contribute to our mission and our slogan “Environmental Quality Through Science.” With this clearer view on our membership profile, we will optimize – in collaboration with the other Geographic Units of SETAC – the membership benefit package. We will also continue to stimulate interactions and knowledge transfer with regional branches, stakeholders and other professional societies. Goalkeeper: Amy Brooks.
- SETAC Europe will aim to develop the aspect of career development opportunities as an essential SETAC membership benefit. Examples include extending the mentorship program beyond the annual meeting, organizing high-quality professional training courses, increasing job-application opportunities (e.g. through the job-speed-dating event in Rome), and stimulating early career participation in interest groups and
committees. Goalkeeper: Michelle Bloor.
- SETAC Europe’s final goal is to maintain a healthy financial status by developing a more robust financial strategy for SETAC Europe. We aim to achieve this by seeking novel sources of income, focus our investments on activities that will accomplish our strategic goals and indexing our annual meeting registration fees. Goalkeeper: Mirco Bundschuh.
During the inception of this strategic plan and the surrounding discussions, it became clear these goals are very (if not extremely) challenging. It has been a privilege for me, in my role as Vice President of SETAC Europe, to direct the activities that have led to this strategic vision. I am very much looking forward to my next year as your President, where I hope to see a lot of energy and momentum driving SETAC Europe forward.
SETAC is an inclusive society, and we need your help and support to achieve our goals. I and all members of the SETAC Europe Council very much depend on your input, and we hope to welcome as many of our members as possible in our committees, interest groups, meetings and workshops. I encourage anyone interested in contributing their time, talents and effort directly toward one of the above-listed specific objectives to contact me so we can chat about the options and opportunities.
I really look forward to the next three years; it promises to be a lot of fun!
Author’s contact information: Karel.DeSchamphelaere@UGent.be