In June 2000, the Board of Governors of the Society for Conservation Biology tasked the SCB Policy Committee with developing guidance and strategic direction for the society's involvement in conservation policy. The committee makes the following conclusions and recommendations.
Current Policy Position and Goals
The society is currently limited in its ability to engage in policy by its structure as a volunteer-based association of professionals. The ongoing change to an organization-based model will improve this situation. Involvement in the policy process can occur through both the society itself and through the efforts of individual society members. The society should continue to actively build institutional partnerships, participate in international conferences and policy meetings, and develop policy positions on a case by case basis until a plan of longer term strategic policy initiatives can be created.
The goal of the society should be to bring highly credible information to bear effectively on the policy process and to communicate it well, while maintaining credibility and scientific integrity beyond question. The society should adopt a general rule that issues of global relevance be given priority over strictly US-based issues. The society no longer uses "Resolutions" to issue statements on policy. This has been replaced by several other mechanisms.
Ad hoc Issues
The policy work of the organization should be focused largely on strategic initiatives, communicating information and catalyzing the work of members and others. Society involvement in ad hoc issues should be limited to those that meet the following criteria:
The society's goal should be to create systems and capacity to communicate information about scientific knowledge and experience to the policy process. SCB and its members are most effective as translators between research/scientific information and the decision making process. Several current society activities include communication emphasis, such as Conservation Biology in Practice, Research Notes releases, and the upgraded SCB website. These outlets should be maximized until the organization is fully staffed and other policy communication tools are identified and developed.
Effective policy communication should be encouraged and rewarded. Annual award of "Individual in Journalism or Education" should be renamed to "Conservation Communicator" and named after individual who models ideal of effective communication about conservation. An additional policy reviewer should be added to the Journal, and journal editor should actively solicit editorials on policy issues.
The society should do all it can to facilitate effective involvement of its members in key policy processes, both strategic and ad hoc/non-strategic. Members who solicit society involvement in policy issues should be encouraged and facilitated to work with other members, not to depend on the society to assume the initiative. The following actions will enhance this objective:
SCB Strategic Policy Initiatives
Society should create agenda of international (and globally-relevant U.S.) policy issues for development as project initiatives. This should form the long-term core of policy work by the society. SCB should conduct a scoping study to forecast which issues are or will be critical and where society can affect the outcome. Fundraise for initiatives on resulting priorities.
International Conventions and Treaties
SCB should increase participation in the international convention and meeting process, especially regarding climate change, land use, invasive species and the role of water in maintaining biodiversity. Identify and sponsor people to represent and be recognized as SCB delegates at conventions and meetings. Funds have generally been available. SCB should prepare now for important meetings in next two to three years, including submitting information documents about soma for inclusion in meeting materials as appropriate.
Align the commissioned paper process better with the strategic plan of the society. Select, develop and publish papers that inform the policy process on key issues and that can be used by advocates for conservation. Make improving commissioned paper process an objective of SCB policy staff.