Connecting the global environmental science community


Over the course of 33 years, the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) has evolved and matured into a premier global scientific professional society dedicated to restoring, improving, and protecting Environmental Quality Through Science. SETAC's global reach—our 8000 members represent nearly 100 countries—enables the Society to work locally in developed and developing countries alike to foster environmental education, cooperation among academia, businesses, and governments, and collaboration on solutions to problems that affect the quality of life for millions of people.

The global environmental community enters the New Year energized to tackle new challenges while continuing to work toward the resolution of seemingly intractable and never-ending environmental problems around the world. SETAC is an important participant in this worldwide effort.

SETAC's very successful World Congress in Berlin in May last year preceded the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, referred to as the Rio+20 summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June. SETAC's strong multidisciplinary, even transdisciplinary, approach to the sustainability agenda can only reinforce the scientific underpinnings of Rio+20 next steps. Linking a range of demonstrated SETAC areas of expertise has contributed to elevating technical and policy discussions and advancing the science supporting new and emerging sustainable environmental practices.

Against this backdrop of the common global effort, now well into its third decade, SETAC has a broad mission to explore new science, new environmental practices, and to encourage dialogue between the science, social science, and political sciences communities. The planet perhaps faces its most dynamic and difficult environmental phase in recorded history, and individual and collective work by SETAC members is crucial to deepening scientific understanding and supporting regulatory policy and business practices on all continents.

There is much more to the Society's effort than simply tackling the broad challenges of addressing sustainability, both scientifically and in our day-to-day lives. SETAC activities are multidimensional around the world. The Society is continually responding to the needs for improved science education in the classroom, the development of scientific research programs, and the exploration of environmental conditions in our water, air, and on land. Our technical meetings, workshops, and peer-reviewed journals are popular forums for the dissemination of the knowledge gained by our members.

The Society is particularly proud of the strong growth in membership in our newest geographic regions—Asia Pacific, Latin America and, most recently, Africa. We are providing the forums needed to build new bonds between individual scientists, scientific organizations, environmental agencies, and businesses within regions and between the different regions around the world. This growing cadre of business leaders, top scientists, and policy makers are connecting different world views to their own regional and local environmental discussions and needs.

In 2013, SETAC regional meetings will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and in Lusaka, Nigeria. SETAC Asia/Pacific will again hold a major country-focused conference in Hanoi, Vietnam. The Europe and North America annual regional conferences will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, and Nashville, Tennessee, USA. At each meeting, we strive to support SETAC scientists charged with confronting both ongoing and emerging environmental challenges facing these regions. In South America, for example, SETAC scientists are exploring sustainable remediation practices to address soil and groundwater contamination. Some Asian countries are embracing programs similar to the US Superfund program to fund the costs of chemical cleanup of farmlands, gas stations, and abandoned factories. And, in Africa, the environment is facing increasing pressures from the rapid economic development underway in several regions of the continent.

The broad internal networking for which SETAC is well known and greatly respected further strengthens this concerted effort. Such professional linkages will no doubt have an important and positive impact for many countries and localities. SETAC has charged Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management (IEAM) with the responsibility of supporting the activities of members working earnestly to address these pressing environmental challenges.

At the same time, this is an exciting time for IEAM as a published journal. Imagination and innovation are the journal's watchwords, and communicating outstanding science is the critical mission. This year, look for new insights into Life Cycle and Sustainability. The journal is working hard to connect to the community of outstanding life cycle scientists and experts working within SETAC and collaboratively with other organizations.

IEAM is also planning to publish several special series in 2013. Topics range from the results of a watershed cumulative effects assessment, the 2012 SETAC Special Science Symposium on Ecosystem Services, SETAC Europe's 18th Life Cycle Case Study Symposium, new challenges in ecological risk assessment, the recommendations from a passive sampling devices workshop, and the results of the baseline ecological risk assessment addressing the US (Tennessee Valley Authority) Kingston coal ash accident.

Increasingly, environment agencies are looking to scientists and environmental professionals to provide long-term, cost-effective solutions and to produce the science upon which recommendations are made. This is a space that SETAC and its members have filled for decades and can now fill on a truly global basis. IEAM will play its important role and we welcome your interest and scientific research contributions.