Traditionally, travelling to an annual expert group meeting could have been the only time of year that the members worked together. The pandemic has shown that groups can operate in a different way with meetings as a tool, not the sole element of an expert group. Participation does not need to involve travelling to a specific location. Virtual events increase inclusiveness and reduce environmental impact. And what of the environmental impacts? If ICES work processes and support are to progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals and ICES as a “Responsible Organization", how should we plan to move towards a net zero carbon policy?
The Bureau Council Sub Group on COVID-19 was established to explore these issues and have now produced a full draft report (and summary) with seven key recommendations on how ICES should move forward as an organization. Both cultural and structural, these recommendations will impact ICES work - from how expert groups are run, to training on gender awareness, diversity, equity, and inclusion issues, to improving our ability to provide advice, from improving accessibility to our network, the support provided by the Secretariat, and how we as a network embrace a shift towards the digital.
"COVID19 will be remembered as the virus that stopped the world, giving us all time to think about our how we are living our lives (including work and wellbeing)", comments Paul Connolly, Vice-President of ICES Bureau and Chair of the Bureau Council Sub Group on COVID-19. "For ICES, the pandemic represents an opportunity to take stock and the BCSGC19 has 7 new ideas (our recommendations) on how ICES might respond as society (including the marine science community) prepares for new working norms”.
During his opening address at the first ever online ICES Annual Science Conference, ICES President Fritz Köster, spoke to ICES community about change. “The way we work will change, but independent of changes to come, it needs you - our community of scientists and it is your engagement, which will generate progress."
As these proposed recommendations will affect those working within as well as with the organization, ICES would like to hear your feedback. For the next two weeks, a survey will be open to hear ICES community feedback on the proposed recommendations.
Jörn Schmidt, Chair of ICES Science Committee, encourages all in the community to provide feedback in the 5-10 minute survey. “We see and feel the challenges you have been facing and we see that change is already happening. We want to support you, the community, in the best way possible and are looking forward to your constructive and critical thoughts on the recommendations."
Read the summary report from Bureau Council Sub Group on COVID-19.