31 Aug 2023

SETAC Africa Meets Again!

Enock Dankyi, President of SETAC Africa

Yes! In a little more than a month, the SETAC Africa 11th Biennial Conference will be held from 8–11 October in Accra, Ghana, being the first physical SETAC Africa conference in a world that has been greatly impacted by COVID-19. On a continent that thrives on physical and social interactions, physical meetings are cherished, and the scientific community is poised to reunite, share insights and pave the way for a brighter future. After a hiatus imposed by the global health crisis, we are thrilled to meet again in person, in a meeting that promises to be a watershed moment in the realm of scientific knowledge exchange and collaboration within and outside of the region.

There is consensus that COVID-19 has had generally low direct health impact on the continent, at least in comparison to the expected scenarios. However, the economic impacts have been swift and direct, and the environmental challenges persist and perhaps have been exacerbated. While not unique to Africa, good science on a continent with limited resources generally reflects resilience, and perhaps none more so than a post-pandemic gathering of researchers to share, explore and innovate solutions to environmental challenges.

The SETAC Africa Conference is set to explore “Environmental Data-Driven Policies for Innovation and Sustainable Development” and will feature presentations by researchers from around the world on current discoveries and innovations as well as the most recent advances in environmental science and toxicology.

The conference features three carefully selected plenary speakers, whose titles reflect a wide range of topics, interests and relevance to Africa and global needs. On Monday, Chris Gordon, University of Ghana, will address “From Data to Policy: The Need for Knowledge Brokerage and Communication.” Tuesday’s plenary speaker, Paul van den Brink, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands, will discuss “The Interactive Effects of Climate Change and Chemicals on Aquatic Ecosystems,” and on Wednesday, Beatrice O. Opealu, BEE Solutions and Consultancy Services, South Africa, will address participants with her talk, “Legacy and Emerging Contaminants in the Environment: Insights and Lessons Learnt by an African Scientist.”

Aside from compelling science, the conference program also includes interactive hands-on workshops, such as the data analysis workshop, which will explore “Univariate and Multivariate Analysis of Quantitative Data Using R” and is designed exclusively for students or early-career researchers. We will also host a writers and reviewers workshop sponsored by the SETAC Journals, which is designed to help participants improve their skills as authors, reviewers and editors, and provide guidance on how best to disseminate research. Furthermore, the SETAC Africa Women’s Event has become a regular and valued gathering at SETAC Africa conferences, and it is again ready to energize and uplift women – this time with the theme “Rising Together for Innovation and Sustainable Development in a Data and Technology-Driven Age.” Lastly, the conference will feature a special session involving an expert panel discussion to contribute to UNEP's science policy on the sound management of chemicals and waste and the prevention of pollution. In line with session principles, the session will include experts and speakers from academia, business, government and non-governmental organizations.

For the majority of us, this conference provides an opportunity to reconnect with old colleagues while also forging new relationships with like-minded professionals from around the world. Inherent to our African roots, the conference provides ample networking opportunities to foster cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary collaborations that are essential to tackling complex global challenges. Also crucial to our meetings is the diversity of our local and exotic cuisines – it is impossible to go wrong!

It is purely coincidental that Ghana, the first Sub-Saharan African country to achieve independence from colonial rule, is hosting the first post-pandemic African conference. However, the country's rich natural resources, numerous historic forts and castles, peaceful existence, rich history, amazing tourist locations, rich local cuisines, unique handicrafts and arts, and most importantly, its friendly people are not coincidental. In effect, there are several reasons to visit Ghana aside from the conference, which makes this event worthwhile for all delegates.

As the world adjusts to a new era, this conference serves as a singular symbol of resilience and progress, bringing together great ideas from across the continent and beyond to share groundbreaking insights and forge new connections.

The world is invited to participate in this historic event, as Africa and its friends once again take their place on the global scientific stage. Register by 5 September and join this thrilling conference in October! 

We are ready to welcome everyone to Ghana. Its SETAC Accra 2023!

As we say to our guests and visitors “Akwaaba,” which means a warm welcome!

Author's contact: [email protected]