Ratified Version: May 24, 1999
Natural resource conservationists from all over the world have many forums in which to gather and share information. Open international meetings on soil and water conservation began with a meeting in Ghent, Belgium in 1978. Conservation 80 followed at Silsoe, U.K in 1980. The participants at the third meeting (Malama ‘Aina 1983) in Honolulu, Hawaii’, U.S.A., chose to form this organization as an independent entity, and to call it the International Soil Conservation Organization (ISCO). The circumstances leading to this historic step are presented in the published Proceedings for that conference (Soil and Water Conservation Society, 1985).
The overall purpose of ISCO is to advocate achieving the sustainable, productive, and efficient use of soil and water resources. It does so through improved understanding of natural resource management issues and enhanced communication among participants in its meetings and with others with similar concerns and commitments. A primary feature of ISCO is the rather “informal” structure whereby no official “Constitution,” “Bylaws,” or membership fees are formulated or enacted. The primary responsibility for the Organization resides with the country, institutions, and individuals (including the chief host designated as the current “President”) who host and organize the meetings. ISCO has thrived and continues to grow with this format and so, the ISCO Board of Directors has continually and consistently affirmed this informality.
As the 8th Conference (New Delhi, 1994), the Board deemed it necessary to draft a set of guidelines to provide continuity and uniformity to the Organization’s mode of operation, and to assist in the planning and conduct of future meetings. Using the New Delhi draft as a starting point, the Board agreed during the 9th conference (Bonn, 1996) that a refinement of those guidelines was needed. This version of the guidelines is based on the input solicited from and provided by Board members following the Bonn Conference. We envisage that further periodic refinements will be needed in the future as ISCO’s base is broadened and more experiences are gained in organizing these global meetings.
Members of the Board have agreed to the following:
- Conference Themes: A broad theme relevant to soil and water conservation and sustainable land use is urged for each International Soil Conservation Organization Conference. This is to avoid exclusion of potential participants from the wide variety of disciplines that are relevant to ISCO’s overall purpose, and to ensure the successful growth of the Organization’s multi-disciplinary focus and sensitivity to continually emerging priorities and paradigm shifts. Hosts of ISCO meetings are urged to define well-defined themes and are encouraged to highlight and emphasize program specific topics, if they so desire. However, the conferences as a whole will continue to welcome the widest possible participation. Also, themes and topics for future conferences should, whenever possible, build on the conclusions and recommendations drawn from the preceding conferences, new issues, and emerging innovations. While ISCO’s themes have historically appealed to a wide range and increasing numbers of participants, it is hoped that well focused program topics will bring to ISCO’s meetings reasonable numbers that are easily managed within the organizers’ capacity.
- Linkages: Cooperation and linkage building are urged with closely related international societies and organizations (such as the World Association of Soil and Water Conservation, the International Union of Soil Science, European Society of Soil conservation, and Soil and Water Conservation Society); national organizations (such as the host country’s appropriate scientific and professional societies); and other organizations whose participate promotes the efficient planning and conduct of future meetings. Co-sponsorships, publicity, publication of proceedings, and inclusion of conference topics proposed by these societies are valuable contributions to ISCO’s conference activities. Cooperating organizations can also complement these activities by holding pre- or post-ISCO Conferences, Workshops, or Symposia on specialized themes designed to benefit the host country and meet the needs of particular participants.
- Geographic Representation at Conferences: ISCO is a global organization and hence should look for participation from as many continents, regions, and countries as possible at its meetings. The hosts should enhance geographic balance in ISCO’s meetings by attracting and supporting the widest possible spectrum from among the conservation and land husbandry communities worldwide. We realize that this may necessitate financial commitments and costly translation arrangements to languages other than English. Thus, we suggest the courses of action indicated in item 8, below.
- Costs to Participants: Hosts should be sensitive to the potential economic burden on participants if the intent of item 3 above is to be met. This sensitivity may be reflected in deciding such matters as affordable registration fees, residence costs, and the need for subsidizing certain conference costs for some delegates.
- Identifying Hosts for Future Meetings: ISCO’s lifeblood is the assurance of future ISCO conferences. It is expected that organizers of a current meeting, in addition to other usual expectations, will vigorously seek invitations for holding future meetings from potential countries/representatives. Members of the ISCO Board should assist in this task as needed. An important procedural detail is to ensure that countries extending invitations are represented by official delegates whoa re responsible for presenting these invitations formally to the Board. Form, written endorsements from the inviting host institutions or governments are required in order for the ISCO Board to consider such invitations official. The incoming President of ISCO should be designated by the Conference organizers, as soon as possible, after the Board’s approval has been accorded.
- ISCO Board of Directors: The “Presidents” who hosted previous ISCO Conferences (or their designees) are the core members of the Board. While the size of the Board should not be so large as to be cumbersome, the Board will invite other men and women of wisdom, experience, and familiarity with ISCO to be members as appropriate for geographic, gender, and other considerations. Members who intend to be present at a particular meeting should confirm their participation to the hosts, and the host should make every effort to facilitate such participation. A board member who is unable to attend a given ISCO conference may designate an alternative representative at the conference in his/her behalf. However, membership in the Board will be forfeited if an in-excused member misses three (3) consecutive meetings.
- Supporters of ISCO: The Board recognizes that many individuals, and possibly institutions are so interested in ISCO’s purpose that they may wish to play an active part in sustaining its mission. Such interest and commitments are quite consistent with item 2 of these guidelines, and so should be acknowledged, nurtured, and used as a way of building future ISCO leadership. The ISCO Board will periodically invite such supportive participants to attend its meetings and participate informally in its deliberations.
- Conference Publications: While we urge ISCO Conference hosts to promote the widest possible participation, we also urge that certain standards of quality be applied to all resulting proceedings and publications that bear ISCO’s name. This can be accomplished through appropriate peer reviews and evaluations of submitted manuscripts. The Board urges organizers to complete the publications of their conference’s proceedings in a prompt manner, preferably before the convening of the succeeding meeting.
- Donor Sponsorship and Financial Assistance: The ISCO leadership is cognizant that some of the above items, such as costs of translation, may require special financing beyond normal organizational costs. We suggest that donors be sensitized and be made aware of ISCO’s global goals and objectives in order to attract their interest in and financial support for the meetings. This may be accomplished through invitations, special publications, issue papers, and reports which target such donors. Sustained efforts must be made to convey ISCO’s accomplishments and emphasize the overall benefits to informed decision making as a result of the interactions, experiences, and shared knowledge at ISCO meetings.
- Record Keeping: Records related to Board decisions and other related matters will be made by organizers of the conference at which the Board meets. An important content of these records is a summary of experiences and suggestions that will help the selected hosts with their planning and implementation of the future conferences. Records will be copied to all members of the Board as soon as possible after the conference, and will be made available on a timely basis to potential and successful bidders for future ISCO meetings.
Initial Guidelines were approved by ISCO’s Board of Directors on 8th December 1994 at New Delhi (India), amended during and after the 9thISCO Meeting at Bonn, August 1996, and ratified by members present at the ISCO 10 in West Lafayette, Indiana, USA, May 24/26, 1999.