Message from the Interim Chair, Jurgen H. Exner

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Thank you for your interest in the ACS Committee on Environmental Improvement (CEI). 

When I first chaired this committee fifteen years ago, we were addressing climate change, risk management, and the precautionary principle.  At that time, a few of us in CEI also began to work on sustainability:  to define it, to explain it, and to educate about it.  In short, to put sustainability in everyone’s thoughts, to make it part of everyone’s decision-making. We now define sustainability as providing for environmental and human health and for economic and societal needs of today without compromising the progress and success of future generations.  Sustainability is in our vision, mission, and goals. Because of the efforts of many chemists, then and now, we now are closer to this goal. Other organizations have picked up the theme, and this year the UN formulated 17 sustainable development goals for the year 2030. 

A sustainable world requires generational transitions: in attitudes, in practices, in technology.  Existing technology and chemicals challenge us today.  Evolving technology and new chemicals will challenge us tomorrow.    CEI’s duty, was and is, is to address these.  In conjunction with other committees, this year we are completing policy statements on energy and hydraulic fracking.  We are examining the crucial issue of clean water.  We are preparing a fact sheet on the emerging field of synthetic biology.   In 2019, we will re-visit our policy statements on climate change and risk assessment.  We are examining two areas of chemical use that are clearly not sustainable:  pollution from plastics and electronics,  to see whether we as chemists can make a contribution to these concerns.

We will continue to be surprised by scientific findings about the global environment.  Practicing sustainability and vigilance about problems will benefit the environment, earth, and its people.      Please join us in this effort.

I invite you to learn more about CEI by perusing our website.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like any additional information.

Jurgen H. Exner
Interim Chair, Joint Board-Council Committee on Environmental Improvement
American Chemical Society


Jurgen H. Exner, Interim CEI Chair Photo Credit: Peter Cutts

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