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Strategy Working Group


The SWG will comprise up to eight individuals nominated by ISSC and ICSU members and jointly appointed by the ICSU Executive Board and ISSC Executive Committee in consultation with the respective secretariats. These individuals will include:

  • Two representatives of ICSU national member organizations,
  • Two representatives of ICSU scientific unions,
  • Two representatives of ISSC national member organizations, and
  • Two representatives of ISSC scientific unions/associations

The SWG will also include, and be co-chaired by, the ISSC and ICSU Vice-Presidents represented on the TTF, namely:

  • Saths Cooper (ISSC Vice-President), and
  • Jinghai Li (ICSU Vice-President)

This linkage between the SWG and TTF is intended to ensure effective realisation of the principle that form should follow function and, hence, that the structures and practices proposed by the TTF are designed to support effective delivery of the vision and mission of the new organization.

In addition to securing regional and gender balance, the Executive bodies of ISSC and ICSU will seek to appoint individuals who:

  • are deeply knowledgeable about the broad domains of the social and natural sciences and have experience working at their intersections
  • understand the perspectives of ICSU and ISSC unions, associations and national members, and
  • are knowledgeable of the broader international landscape, including policy and practice environments, within which science and its applications are delivered.

The SWG may consult widely and hold a consultative workshop with relevant external experts. It will draw on the inputs of ICSU and ISSC members, as well as members of the secretariats able to advise and comment on a new organization’s strategic opportunities and possible challenges in the delivery of its objectives and associated activities.

Terms of Reference

a).    Deliverable

The SWG will prepare a high-level strategy for a new, merged organization. This 5-10 page document should:

  • Articulate an overall niche and purpose (vision and mission) that recognises and exploits the distinctive roles and strengths of the new organization’s members;
  • Identify a set of results-oriented objectives that relate to achieving the organization’s vision and mission;
  • Set out the organization’s core values and working principles;
  • Outline a set of strategic priorities and related activities and partnerships that address important issues for science where the organization has unique potential, and which are relevant to the interests and priorities of its members; and
  • Outline the organization’s communications, management and resource needs and priorities.

The SWG’s strategic proposals should be at an appropriate level, i.e. sufficiently specific to provide a clear framework for the substantive development of the new organization, but not so specific that they limit the creativity of members and a new joint Executive in identifying particular projects that are imaginative, important, timely and deliverable.

The strategy will draw on the results of the strategy development work undertaken to date by ICSU and ISSC with the support of Firetail Consultancy.

b).    Timeline and work flow

The anticipated timeline and proposed work flow for the development of a strategy is as follows:

  • December 2016 – February 2017: Preparation of first draft by SWG, involving:
    • Preparation and circulation to SWG of relevant background documentation and “straw-man” strategy based on existing analyses and strategy development work already undertaken by ICSU and ISSC Secretariats
    • 1.5 Day SWG workshop discussion with invitees, followed immediately by a 1.5 day SWG meeting, culminating in a first draft strategy
    • Finalisation of draft by correspondence
  • February – March 2017: Approval of draft strategy by ICSU and ISSC Executives
  • March – April 2017: Submission of draft strategy and request for feedback from members of ISSC and ICSU
  • May 2017: Review of members’ feedback and preparation of final draft by SWG, involving:
    • SWG meeting or teleconference
    • Finalisation of document by correspondence
  • June 2017: Approval of final draft strategy by ICSU and ISSC Executives
  • July 2017: Submission of final draft strategy to members

The SWG will meet at least once, and possibly twice, before the end of June 2017. In addition to attending meetings, SWG members will be expected to work via teleconferences and email correspondence.

The work of the SWG will be supported by a dedicated team of staff from the ISSC and ICSU Secretariats, including the Executive Directors of both organisations.

Governance arrangements and work methods

In view of the commitments made by the leadership of ICSU and ISSC in Oslo, the TTF and SWG will be requested to work in a transparent and inclusive manner, recognising that the success of the transition planning process will depend on strong accountability, including effective communication with and engagement of the members of ISSC and ICSU.

A Conflict of Interest policy to be agreed between ICSU and ISSC shall apply to the work of both the TTF and the SWG.

Both the TTF and SWG will report to the ICSU and ISSC Executives who will assume responsibility for approving and submitting draft and final versions of TTF and SWG outputs to ISSC and ICSU members, and receiving their feedback.

As already indicated, the TTF will be co-chaired by the ISSC and ICSU Presidents. The work of the TTF will be facilitated by Khotso Mokhele, previous ICSU Vice-President for Scientific Planning and Review, and previous member of the ISSC Committee for Developing and Transition Economies. The SWG will be co-chaired by Jinghai Li (ICSU Vice-President) and Saths Cooper (ISSC Vice-President).

Teams comprising members of the ICSU and ISSC Secretariats and led by the Executive Directors of both organizations will support the overall transition planning process. Four teams will be established for this purpose:

  • A Transition Task Force (TTF) Support Team
  • A Strategy Working Group (SWG) Support Team
  • A Transition Communications Team
  • A General Assembly 2017 Team
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