Our vision for a National Environmental Prediction System
On the day after our 2021 conference, a virtual workshop was held to consider a response to the proposal for the National Environmental Prediction System (NEPS). The proposal is an ambitious plan to provide networking and technical linkages to allow researchers to find, review, contribute and improve data and models for prediction.
Our newly elected president, Kathryn Hassell, said “The idea of the NEPS is exciting and we support NCRIS funds being directed to towards improving environmental quality. There are many ways that a NEPS could help with the management of contaminants in the environment because modelling that predicts the impact of stressors is challenging, especially when considering multiple stressors on different scales. We need better datasets, tools and models to protect our unique environment from degradation. SETAC-AU implores that the NEPS consider environmental quality and contaminant management.”
The workshop identified several considerations for the NEPS project that would add value to the NCRIS investment and aid in maintaining Australia’s high environmental quality standards:
- Curated national datasets and governance linking contaminant-stressor exposure, effects, and biodiversity data. Collating and synthesising large spatial and temporal environmental quality datasets could harness the power of Big Data for predicting risks to human and ecological health, and inform national policies to protect and manage the quality of the Australian environment.
- A long-term national strategy for the maintenance and updating of Australia’s water and sediment quality guidelines. These guidelines are already essential pieces of national infrastructure but strategic investment is required to ensure they have adequate coverage and maintain currency with the state of the science.
- National facilities and demonstration or reference sites that can be used to gather knowledge about the exposure and effects of contaminants. This will improve our knowledge of contaminant effects within the complexity of real and changing environmental conditions.
- A national strategy to progress New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) from the R&D phase into applications for industry and regulators. These tools promise to make risk assessments faster, more accurate and cheaper.
The benefits of these elements to the NEPS cannot be understated. They aim to protect the health of Australians now, and into the future, and protect our environment from degradation. They will result in a reduction of costs for both industry and governments and increase certainty for commercial activities. They will enable strategic international research partnerships. They will also improve the trust of the community and Indigenous people, providing social licence to operate.
Download and read SETAC AU's full submission below.
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