Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
Strengthening Capacity to Manage Ecosystems Sustainably for Human Well-Being

Millennium Assessment Policy Concerning Financial Support for the Travel and Participation of Experts

The MA, like the Ozone Assessment and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), functioned largely through ‘in-kind’ contributions of the time of experts. The majority of scientists involved in the Assessment were expected to contribute time to the process in lieu of time they would have spent on the preparation of other scientific research or review articles. It is expected that, like the IPCC, authors involved in the preparation of MA products will gain considerable professional credit for publications that they have co-authored in the MA process.

The MA did not provide ‘honoraria’ for the involvement of experts. Many host institutions were able to cover travel costs and expenses related to MA meetings as an ‘in-kind’ contribution (which is cited in the MA products). The MA Board Chairs and Director contacted appropriate individuals in the home institutions or national governments of the experts to seek this in-kind support as needed. When such support was unavailable, the MA covered travel and expenses for participation in meetings. The MA travel policy is as follows:

“It is the policy of the MA that when Board members or scientific experts attending MA meetings need travel support, the MA will cover only coach class airfare and expenses. (If you will be able to use upgrades, the MA can also cover those coach airfares allowing for upgrades.)” (Decision MA-EC 4.9.7) (Note: the ‘upgrades’ referred to in this policy would generally be upgrades that the individual may have accrued through frequent flyer mileage.)

The MA recognized that it is sometimes impossible for scientists supported by “soft money” to devote any significant time to preparation of a paper or even participation in a meeting unless they can cover their salary. Similarly, in some cases the MA asked experts to undertake new work in re-analyzing datasets or preparing indicators that cannot be covered under their existing grants. In such cases, if their institutions or governments were unable to provide in-kind support, it may have been impossible for them to take part in the MA. However, in exceptional circumstances, the MA provided some funding to offset these costs and the following guidelines were used in making determinations concerning the allocation of core MA funding in such situations:

  1. If an expert indicates that they require financial support for their contribution, the MA Director or Board Co-chairs will approach their institution or their national government requesting that the institution or government consider covering these costs as an in-kind contribution to the process. The expert should provide guidance to the Working Group Co-chairs or the Technical Support Unit (TSU) of the working group on what possibilities might exist for such support and who the MA should contact to explore the potential for support.
  2. In exceptional circumstances, MA funds can be used to cover costs associated with the participation of an individual or the contribution of an analytical or other product that the individual cannot cover through any other sources. Any use of funds in this manner will be biased to the greatest extent possible toward participants from developing countries. To a more limited extent, support can be provided to participants from developed countries if, in the judgment of the Director and the Working Group Co-chairs, their involvement is a very high priority and such funds are essential for their participation.