In 2020, SCB invested in an in-depth nine-month process to examine how our organizational governance, operations and structures might be improved to best serve the global membership and mission. The Society engaged the organization design firm nRhythm to examine the organizational health of SCB by conducting membership surveys and interviewing staff and group leaders.
With this information the global board and staff participated in a series of design workshops led by nRhythm to explore ways of improving organizational health. During these workshops we affirmed SCB’s commitment to design new global governance structures that align informal and formal power, address historic power inequities and operationalize equity, inclusion and diversity. We are creating a truly global collaborative network with decentralized decision making and resources that empowers regional sections, chapters and members to advance conservation science, practice and policy.
SCB is striving to transition to new governance structures and operations to create the desired network in a way that encourages participation by the membership and does not disrupt current operations and services. Over the next three years SCB will be working with nRhythm to transition to new structures in a way that recognizes the diverse and unique opportunities and challenges of SCB’s sections, chapters, working groups, committees and members.
Below we outline the new structure of SCB that we will be working to transition to over the next few years.
- To enhance support and collaboration of sections, chapters, working groups as change agents in order to leverage these groups for global impact.
- To advance equitable access and participation in SCB’s services, leadership and governance in a way that lifts LGBTQ, BIPOC voices, perspectives and wisdom and addresses historic power inequities so that SCB increases problem solving capacity, grows membership, increases global representation, and builds capacity in geographies with the highest biodiversity.
- To innovate membership inclusion, growth and services to provide value and enhanced collaboration, diversity, connection and service to our global community/network.
- To innovate conferences and training in a way that links science and practice, increases accessibility for science and knowledge, and connects people beyond their narrow focus, so that we create distinctive, authentic experiences – making SCB a professional home for a broad range of disciplines.
- Operationalize SCB’s commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity through global governance structures that aligns informal and formal power and addresses historic power inequities.
- Shifting from a hub and spoke governance structure to a truly collaborative global network structure by decentralizing decision making, operations, resources and risk and empowering semi-autonomous sections.
- Implementing a revenue/cost sharing model between SCB global functions and semi-autonomous sections that enhances local flexibility, decision making and oversight.
- Empowering sections to manage membership and local chapters in a way that recognizes each section’s unique context, opportunities, and challenges.
- Building capacity of the SCB staff to serve as a global services office in support for the entire global network.
The Society for Conservation Biology was formed to serve the interests of conservation scientists around the world. Its mission is to advance the science and practice of conserving Earth’s biological diversity. SCB’s vision is a world where people understand, value, and conserve the diversity of life on Earth and where SCB, a globally diverse, equitable, and inclusive community, serves as a leading voice for the scientific study and conservation of Earth’s biological diversity. As the field evolves so too must the Society.
The restructure will serve to solve a range of historical issues that have inhibited growth and equity and pivot the Society towards realizing its full potential in supporting its global members across regions, cultures and languages, and ensure its relevance across all disciplines of conservation science and practice. In so doing it will enable the Society to more fully achieve its Mission and Vision.
Below, we outline recommendations for a new Global Governance Structure and a connected 2022-2026 Business Model.
The Governance Structure ensures voices of all members of the Society for Conservation Biology are heard and offers pathways for all members to be decision-makers with regard to strategy, identity, process and resource allocation. It will comprise of 4 key governance bodies.
- The Global Network Board is the legal board of SCB. It is comprised of board officers, with equal representation of the Regional Council and Programs Council. It is charged to make the legal and fiduciary decisions for SCB as well decisions that integrate the interests of the Regional and Programs Councils.
- The Regional Council will be made up of Section leaders and represent the interests of members across geographic regions, support local Chapters and drive global membership. Decision-making on issues relating to regional membership engagement and activity sits with the Regional Council.
- The Programs Council is made up of leaders of Working Groups, Global Programs, Committees and Taskforces, represents the interests of members across themes and interests, and also drives global membership. Decision making on programmatic vision and direction will sit with the Program Council.
- The Global Services Team is the paid employees of the society and are charged to support network connectivity, information flow, communication, and convening across the governance spheres.
There are a number of recommendations for further integration of the Regional and Programs Council. See the Integration of Regional Council and Programs Council section for more details.
In addition, there will two key committees with oversight functions:
- The Governance Committee will ensure the highest standards of governance. They will oversee elections of the board officers and provide guidance on By-Laws and Terms of Reference for Committees, Global Services Staff and board officer positions.
- The Global EID Committee will be chaired by the Global EID board seat and serve to operationalize EID commitments across the governance spheres.
An additional recommendation is to create to categories of chapters: Regional Chapters and Thematic Chapters, which you can learn more about under Chapters.
The global network board (GNB) is the legal board for SCB. They are tasked with ensuring health of the global network, ensuring connectivity and multi-partial communication within the network, processing justice, equitable distribution of resources, and higher-level decision making. It is charged to make the legal and fiduciary decisions for SCB as well decisions that integrate the interests of the Regional and Programs Council.
The Regional Council is the regional representative body for SCB membership and drives the strategy for membership recruitment of the Society ensuring diversity, inclusion and equity. It represents the affairs of members across geographic regions. It will comprise the six Section Presidents (Africa, Asia, Europe, LACA, North America, and Oceania). It will support the activities of members in the Sections including those members organized into location-based Chapters through allocation of funds, technical support and other resources. Annual workplans will define the priorities for support based on needs of Chapters and Section members. Strategic fundraising will be done by the Regional Council to support implementation of annual workplans.
The Programs Council drives the programmatic direction of the Society. It will be comprised of the Societies programmatic groups: i.e Global Programs and Working Groups and Task Forces. The Programs Council will be the collective voice of these groups and make decisions and recommendations on issues related branding, identity and programmatic direction of the Society. It will also determine the governance and oversight for the Programs Fund (see Business Model Summary). It will support the activities and interests of the programmatic groups through allocation of funds, technical support, training, convening and networking. It may decide to form and deploy Task Forces to work on specific challenges or topics. Annual workplans will define the priorities for support based on requests from the programmatic groups. Strategic fundraising will be done by the Programs Council to support implementation of annual workplans.
The Programs Council will set procedure and policies concerning the creation and oversight of existing and new programmatic groups such as global programs, workgroups, task forces etc. It is envisioned that the programmatic groups will have the opportunity to convene, fundraise, hold conferences, propose and create new journals, create policy statements and briefings and many other activities.