Sharing EPA Knowledge 7,000 Miles Away

By Abdel Kadry and Ila Cote

With an invitation from the U.S. embassy in Riyadh, two of my colleagues and I traveled to Saudi Arabia last month to provide risk assessment training to Saudi and other scientists in Riyadh and to participate in a scientific dialogue with Saudi government officials and others on the Global Methane Initiative.

Dr. John Vandenberg

For three days, we represented the United States in the Saudi International Environmental Technology Conference 2012, which was organized under the patronage of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, the King of the Saudi Arabia. The conference was at King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), an independent scientific organization that encompasses both the Saudi Arabian National Science Agency and its National Laboratories.

KACST plays a pivotal role in the development of the National Science, Technology and Innovation policy and leads 62 government agencies and over 190 national programs and related projects for the development of the Kingdom’s strategic technologies. KACST also funds more than 400 independent research projects annually and acts as the Kingdom’s patent office.

The conference we attended hosted a large gathering of researchers, investors, decision makers and those interested in developing environmental technology. One goal was to facilitate achieving the priorities of the Saudi National Strategy for Environmental Technology.

The conference was organized around three main tracks:

  1. Air pollution and air quality.
  2. Waste & soil contamination & remediation.
  3. Climate change impacts and solutions.

My colleague, John Vandenberg, provided the plenary talk, and our team of three EPA scientists offered risk assessment training for the entire third day of the three day conference. Our training focused on the principles and application of risk assessment.

Dr. Ila Coate

We structured the training to include lectures combined with case studies, with a lot of time allotted to discussing the case studies.

We had excellent attendance and the participants were very engaged in the course material.  We also had the pleasure of meeting Saudi officials such as His Highness Dr. Turki AL Saud, the KACST vice president, who expressed considerable appreciation for the important international role that EPA plays in protecting human health and the environment. The team was also very proud that Dr. Ila Cote, who, as the only female speaker in the conference, provided much inspiration for the Saudi female scientists.

About the Authors:

Abdel Kadry is the Senior Advisor for Scientific Organizational Development and International Activities in EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA).  Abdel has organized a series of international risk assessment training activities for NCEA, with a focus on developing countries.  Ila Cote, Senior Science Advisor in NCEA, and John Vandenberg, Director of the Research Triangle Park Division of NCEA, accompanied Abdel to Saudi Arabia to provide risk assessment training last month.