ICES Council met in Copenhagen last week for its 110th statutory meeting. This was ICES President William Karp's first time chairing a Council meeting at ICES Headquarters. As Council has not been able to meet in person since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Karp was delighted to welcome many national delegates in person as well as a number joining online.
Alan Haynie, recently appointed as ICES General Secretary, was also pleased to welcome the Council to Copenhagen. "It was great to meet all of the Delegates who were able to attend the meeting. It was definitely a learning experience for me and I leaned heavily on my incredible colleagues at the Secretariat. I was very pleased with the range of great input on ICES activities and the approval by the Council of key initiatives. I look forward to working with all of our Member Countries to strengthen ICES network. "
Strategic areas of science were discussed. Delegates were encouraged to further extend the support of the Strategic Initiative on the Integration of Early Career Scientists (SIIECS). Rising tides – voices from the new generation of marine scientists, was presented as a new collection of articles jointly developed by SIIECS and ICES Journal of Marine Science.
Further highlights discussed included the launch of new data portals for cetaceans and seabirds, and the addition of Aquaculture Overviews to the advisory portfolio, a product that incorporates interactions of environmental, economic, and social drivers of aquaculture as well as future projections and emerging threats and opportunities.
Recommendations on how the organization can adapt to a post-COVID working environment were also reviewed as was the process of how ICES could move toward net-zero carbon emissions.
The Council was presented with work on emerging areas of science such as offshore wind development, integrated monitoring, carbon sequestration and storage, and research vessel design.
a critical component of a sustainable social–ecological system, science must be
equitable and diverse to effectively meet societal needs for impartial evidence
on the state and sustainable use of our seas and oceans. ICES is committed to mainstreaming gender equality, and principles that support
diversity, equity, and inclusion broadly in its governance, working structures,
programmes, and service delivery.
In 2021, Council
supported the proposed development of a
gender equality action plan. An interim Gender Equality
Plan endorsed by ICES Bureau in February 2022 was last week approved Council. It describes the objectives and targets, as well as initiatives in
place and under-development in the context of the qualitative and quantitative
targets to evaluate progress towards achieving gender equality, empowering
women, and underrepresented groups.
Speaking about the newly approved Gender Equality Plan, Ellen Johannesen, ICES Secretariat & World Maritime University, who has spearheaded the work noted, “While women are well represented in marine science overall, they continue to be underrepresented in leadership roles within ICES Secretariat and the wider ICES community. Adopting the Gender Equality Plan is an important first step that will help the organization focus on fostering a more inclusive working environment, encouraging culture changes, and set a path for rectifying existing imbalances, which will result in more diverse leadership in future. We need to keep these issues high on the agenda to help us continue to raise awareness and combat unconscious and systemic bias. We will be annually reporting on progress towards the goals”.
An updated Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct was also approved by Council. This includes outlining ICES core values (Embrace diversity, include equally, communicate thoughtfully, avoid harassment, promote wellbeing), international standards of good scientific practice, conflict of interest, and environmental responsibilities for all those engaged in ICES activities.
Engagement with stakeholders is essential to ICES' work, contributing with their expert knowledge which is incorporated into the science and the evidence base for advice.
The Stakeholder Engagement strategy approved by Council has been developed over the past 30 months based on recommendations from the Workshop on stakeholder engagement strategy (WKSHOES) in 2021. Since then, consultations have taken place with ICES Science and Advisory committees, Bureau, stakeholders and observers, and the organizations that request advice from ICES. It is hoped to be launched in January 2023.
Mark Dickey-Collas, Chair of ICES Advisory Committee has been involved in the development of the new plan and see the following benefits: "The newly approved stakeholder engagement strategy provides clarity of purpose, demands transparency in the process and lists the expectations and responsibilities of stakeholders and scientists. It defines who holds a stake in ICES". The principles of stakeholder engagement highlight that the opportunities for stakeholder involvement are inclusive and proportional to the issue being addressed. "This offers ways into ICES. Active stakeholder participation is consistent with the impartiality, independence and integrity of ICES. It charts the need for further “learning by doing" and the need to monitor and evaluate engagement". The Stakeholder Engagement strategy will launch in early 2023.
Bureau is the Executive Committee of the Council, comprising one president and six Vice-Presidents. Pierre Petitgas, France, concludes his three-year term as Vice-President at the end of 2022 and Per Sandberg, Norway was elected as his successor. Petitgas remarked, "As a Bureau member one gets to know how ICES works from the inside. Bureau follows the work of the organization and oversees the implementation of Council decisions. It is where the Secretariat, Committees and Delegates interact. The past 3 years have been active: new MoUs have been signed with non-EU countries for delivering advice, which was the premises of a new ICES business model, Covid has changed our ways of working with remote and in-person meetings and a dose of mentoring the leadership, Investments have been decided to adapt to a post-COVID and lower carbon world, the break out of the war in Ukraine has resulted to the temporary exclusion of the Federation of Russia. Foreseen challenges ahead concern ICES business model and the increase in the scope of advisory requests concerning biodiversity impacts of human activities and emerging new topics such as offshore wind energy".
The Council is the principal decision and policy-making body of ICES, comprising a President and two delegates appointed by each of Member Country.
ICES Council in Copenhagen, 2022