Ecosystem Approach Community of Practice: Governing mechanism

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What is Governance


from Wikipedia
Governance is the act of exercising authority, or governing. It is the combination of processes and structures implemented by the board
Global governance
Its defined as "the complex of formal and informal institutions, mechanisms relationships, and processes between and among states, markets, citizens and organizations, both inter- and non-governmental, through which collective interests on the global plane are articulated, right and obligations are established, and differences are mediated". In contrast to the traditional meaning of "governance", some authors like James Rosenau have used the term "global governance" to denote the regulation of interdependent relations in the absence of an overarching political authority. The best example of this in the international system or relationships between independent states. The term can however apply wherever a group of free equals need to form a regular relationship.
Corporate governance
Corporate governance consists of the set of processes, customs, policies, laws and institutions affecting the way people direct, administer or control a corporation. Corporate governance also includes the relationships among the many players involved (the stakeholders) and the corporate goals. The principal players include the shareholders, management, and the board of directors. Other stakeholders include employees, suppliers, customers, banks and other lenders, regulators, the environment and the community at large. The first documented use of the word "corporate governance" is by Richard Eells (1960, pg. 108) to denote "the structure and functioning of the corporate polity". The "corporate government" concept itself is older and was already used in finance textbooks at the beginning of the 20th century (Becht, Bolton, Röell 2004). These origins support a multiple constituency (stakeholder) definition of corporate governance.
Sectoral governance (e.g. in fisheries)
the institutional arrangements that integrate actions and processes to achieve responsible fisheries and aquaculture (extracted from FAO-COFI 2012 document)

Components of Governance

Review of main models

The main sections of a typical governance document include: 1. Overview 2. Roles and responsibilities 3. Support 4. Decision making process 5. Contribution process

Principles for Governance development

Tailor to business model

The D4ScienceII sustainability workshop provided the outline for a comprehensive sustainability strategy, with indicative budgets, timelines and action points. Concepts and approaches for this include the definition of a business model, communication message, legal entity, business plan and costing arrangements.

Based on this, and on agreed processes for development and sustainability, a governance mechanism needs to be defined and agreed, to ensure that the core areas of the programme can be managed and directed towards the fundamental longer term goal of the D4Science/iMarine partnership.

Define clear objectives

Discuss the objectives

Adapt governance levels to main functions and groups of stakeholders

For this undertaking, groups of stakeholders likely include Public research institutions involved in computing science, IT private industry, Public and private sponsors, and the user Community (CoP). A target level should be defined by the end of the iMarine project for each stakeholder group.

Discuss main required functions

Iterative and lessons-learning approach to development

Although the project's context and objectives are distinct from those of the targeted persistent mechanism, a number of the project's settings would be applicable there and therefore it is acknowledged that the experience of the iMarine Governance mechanism will be instrumental in highlighting practical directions. The Governance mechanism recommendations therefore partly build on a review of the Governance's situation at kick-off stage and an evaluation of its performance and possible solutions envisaged to address observed weaknesses.

Sustainable use of the data e-infrastructure

link to D4Science Business model proposal page

link to legal entity page

link to D4Science investment and business plan page

Governance mechanism recommendations - as of project year 1


As developed in the "Principles for Governance development" section, the proposed governance mechanisms are set to support the agreed sustainability targets and related business model. The Governance proposals also build on the iMarine project's Governance experience. Hence the first two sections aim to describe the Governance's kick-off situation and to document the performance of the existing governance and solutions proposed to address observed weaknesses. Acknowledging sustainability targets , the following sections then describe the Governance objectives, and considers the required structure, bodies, and instruments.

Kick-off situation

A brief description of the Governance structure in the iMarine project is provided here, with an effort to distinguish aspects which are iMarine project related, and those which should persist independently of the project. The iMarine project structure has been defined with distinctions between governance and management issues; it includes: Governing Board, Steering Board, Project Executive Board, Tcom. The iMarine Board and its Advisory Council were designed as part of the project, but could have been formed independantly as a partnership among community agencies willing to share data.

  • The Governing Board will make decisions that have a direct legal or financial impact on project beneficiaries. Below the authority of the Governing Board are the managerial boards, each with a different set of responsibilities aiming at the accomplishment of common objectives.
  • The Steering Board is engaged in iMarine’s strategy development including the creation of synergies and long-term sustainability within the iMarine launched Initiative. It is held accountable for the overall success of the project.
  • The Project Executive Board executes on behalf of the Steering Board, leading the diverse networking and technologically-oriented activities, and making sure that the work packages produce the required deliverables to the identified standard of quality, on time and within budget.
  • The Technical Committee exists to address the complex technical work required to deploy and operate the iMarine data e-Infrastructure and virtual Research Environments, and the development, deployment and integration of the enabling-technologies. The Technical Committee is designed to ensure that there is sufficient interaction between the resource providers of the data e-Infrastructure and the thematic practitioners.
  • The iMarine Board's primary goal is to define the iMarine Data e-Infrastructure governance model with a view to sustainability, and to formulate a set of organizational and technological policy recommendations regulating the resource sharing and services provided by the new iMarine Data e-Infrastructure.
  • The Advisory Council composed of high level leaders and champions of Ecosystem Approach initiatives orients the work of the iMarine Board but can also serve to consult either one for the managerial as appropriate.

Evaluation on Governance performance during project's life span; Issues observed, and solutions proposed

  • Issue 1:

it has been observed some overlap between the presentations/discussions held at Tcom and those held at iMarine Board. The first iMarine Board spent too much time on technical aspects, and this didn't leave enough time to Policy discussions.

Solution: the SB has agreed to hold a joint Tcom-iMarine Board session which will focus on technical achievements. This solution will be experimented for the first time at Tcom3 - iMarine Board2 session on the first week of October 2012

  • Issue 2:

the mobilization of the user community proves challenging. Two levels of involvement are concerned:

- all project partners and members of the iMarine Board should feel concerned, actively involved in iMarine Board activities, and in outreach.

- capacity to raise awareness of the iMarine potential and mobilize user communities beyond the fore-front project partners

Related to this issue is the following question: how can the project place innovation efforts where there is a strong expectation from the community?


- Thanks to the quality assurance process, the various Board (SB, PEB, and iMarine Board) play their role to trigger inputs from low-active partners. Ultimately, pressure can be exerted through project payment release.

- a stronger cohesion of activities is still required among Members of the iMarine Board and the project IT community. This requires a stronger involvement of community partners, a stronger planning and priority making framework at iMarine Board level, a better alignment of IT development and innovation with the community's expectations and capacities, and possibly a mechanism able to mobilize/redistribute part of project resources where opportunities are identified (notion of a reserve fund which could be mobilized to target specific actions; notion of redirection of project resources where activity looks promising).

- this issue is under a scrutinity phase, and has not yet been matter of a SB decision

  • Issue 3:

- Engaging end-users (e.g. scientists) is not such an easy task for a project such as iMArine which is primarily IT and Data centric. The iMarine Board members acting as Mediators strive to do it through project opportunities and case by case basis, but Board members are fundamentally Information System specialists / Data manager oriented persons and each Mediator has to spend a lot of energy to involve/convince end users who always feel that we try to drive their agenda while promoting our tools, instead of responding to their requests.

Possible solution: in order to make bulk impact, what we are lacking in iMarine is a strategic alliance with a sibling initiative of science oriented persons (e.g. GeoBon) where scientific experts are mobilized to federate, synthesize needs, and make available to their constituency wide ranging solutions.

Governance objectives

Overall Governance principles

The overall principle was extracted from Sustainability workshop report

Governance should ensure that the interests of diverse stakeholders involved in the initiative can be met, that clear rules of conduct (and sanctions) are in place for those acting for the entity, and that transparent and equitable contractual and other interactive arrangements are in place for partners and clients.

Projected target level at project end

The iMarine project intention is to develop a Ecosystem Approach community of Practice articulated around a set of infrastructure based components that support the data needs of this community. From a community governance perspective, this implies a framework to marshal;

  1. information on the use and usage of the system and its components;
  2. information on the products and services enclosed or linked to the e-Infrastructure;
  3. information on the exploitation and support of the e-Infrastructure;
  4. a future sustainability plan.

Governance Structure and Bodies

A two tiers (three tiers?) Governance structure

The medium-term business model aims at ensuring maintenance and expansion of the D4Science infrastructure and related technology, for the benefit of enhanced policy making supported by a diversified and increasing scientific community. This model also envisages public-private partnerships in order to ensure various sources of income. From the point of view of user communities, such model would imply that various thematic communities (such as iMarine, OpenAire, OpenBio) could take shape as user oriented governance clusters, each of them being part of a higher level governing structure. This governing structure would fulfill to some extent a function equivalent to the union of those fulfilled under today's [iMarine + OpenAire + OpenBio]'s projects.

Considering the size of each user community (iMarine is potentially a huge one), it is likely that sub-clusters will also emerge under each main community.

There is a possibility that a three tiers governance structure might be necessary. This should be kept in mind, but if no one would contest the need to set-up user oriented governance bodies, there should be no systematic attempt to define rigid and useless hierarchies among the user community from the onset. In addition, the situation targetted at the end of the iMarine project might be that of one, may be two or three user community clusters, and therefore the functioning of the higher level governing structure might be tightly articulated with that of the user community cluster(s) (as is the case in the current iMarine project governance structure).

From the above, it is acknowledged that mental flexibility is required, however the different levels of Governance are being described separately with the understanding that they conceptually belong to different levels.

See the Governance of D4Science e-infrastructure page

See the Governance of EA-CoP page

Governance instruments – policies, guidelines and best practices

  • Guidelines and best practices

For practical uptake by stakeholders, Policies have to be translated into/extended with implementation guidelines and best practices. Their elaboration will in practice proceed through Hands-on work. See iMarine Guidelines and Best Practices page;

  • Informal mechanisms - Networking, communication
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