UN ‘shoemaker’s’ child (IPCC) gets no shoes, yet

In the interest of “transparency”, one of the key recommendations of the recent InterAcademy Council (IAC)’s review of the processes and procedures of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was as follows [p. 66]:

The IPCC should develop and adopt formal qualifications and formally articulate the roles and responsibilities for all Bureau members, including the IPCC Chair, to ensure that they have both the highest scholarly qualifications and proven leadership skills. [emphasis added -hro]

This recommendation from the IAC is quite consistent with the World Volunteer Web (yet another UN offspring)’s longstanding counsel that:

A written job description is the most important criteria in volunteer programme management. A job description should be prepared for every volunteer position, no matter how big or small. The advantage of written job description is that the duties, expectations and responsibilities of both the volunteer and the organization are outlined clearly. Knowing the requirements of individual volunteer jobs in advance simplifies the selection/recruitment and management of volunteers.

Written job descriptions help an organization think in advance about how to provide volunteers with opportunities to contribute that are both challenging and rewarding. Sometimes individual volunteers fail because the role, relationship and/or duties of the volunteer are never clearly defined. Lack of definition can result in a less than positive experience and confusion for the volunteer. [emphasis added -hro]

Yet, the “REVIEW OF THE IPCC PROCESSES AND PROCEDURES Proposal by the Task Group on Governance and Management”, a document which purports to – inter alia – [p. 2]:

[propose] detailed responses to the IAC review with respect to the establishment of an Executive Committee, the Term of Office of the Chair and the Working Group and Task Force co-chairs, and the head of the secretariat.

will be discussed at the upcoming [May 10-13] 33rd session of the IPCC. That which is conspicuous by its absence in this “proposal” is … wait for it … any indication that this particular “volunteer program” is likely to have these fundamental criteria addressed in the foreseeable future.

Instead one finds [p. 7]:

5. Terms of Reference of the Bureau

5.1 The functions of the Bureau have evolved over several decisions of the Panel and do not exist in one set of terms of reference. In response to the decisions of the Panel at IPCC-32 draft terms of reference were prepared for the consideration of the Panel. These will also cover proposals for formal qualifications, roles and responsibilities for Bureau members.

These TOR have not undergone such a full consideration and consultation as the other decisions listed above as there was insufficient time at the February meeting to compile a full set of documents.

5.2 The following terms of reference for the Bureau are presented in Paragraph 5.3 for
information and it is recommended that more time is allowed for their review and propose
that they be considered fully at IPCC-34.

5.3 [Covered in a separate document] (sic with no link -hro)

Insufficient time, eh?! Awww … what a shame!

YMMV, but in my books this “proposal” is yet another indication that when it comes to “transparency” these IPCC folks soooooooo don’t get it!


2 thoughts on “UN ‘shoemaker’s’ child (IPCC) gets no shoes, yet

  1. Lack of transparency was just one of the shortcomings in IPCC’s procedures documented in the IAC review. Others included political interference, biased treatment of genuinely contentious issues, failure to respond to critical reviewer comments, vague statements not supported by evidence, poorly reflecting uncertainty, lack of any policy to preclude conflict of interest, use of non-peer reviewed and unpublished material not flagged as such (a polite way of saying that IPCC authors wrote material which was neither subjected to peer-review or published but was subsequently cited as ‘evidence’).
    The IAC review included input from over 400 individuals including IPCC’s own participating scientists.
    It is patently obvious from this that the Fourth Assessment Report is essentially a political advocacy document rather than the comprehensive, robust, objective scientific appraisal that many assume it to be.
    How is it that such problems could persist for the 20 years that IPCC has been in existence?

  2. I don’t disagree, gyptis! And I did say “one of the key recommendations” in my intro :-)

    As for your: “The IAC review included input from over 400 individuals including IPCC’s own participating scientists”. Quite so. And as I have noted in a previous post, even the IAC has been less than transparent, in that – to date – it has failed to provide the “missing” 168+ responses (or a reasonable explanation for their rather conspicuous absence).

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