The mission of the International Permafrost Association (IPA) is to promote research in permafrost and permafrost-related fields within the global scientific and engineering communities, to support the activities of researchers in these disciplines, and to disseminate findings concerning permafrost to the decision-makers, the general public and educators.
The IPA is run by an executive committee made up of a president, one or two vice-presidents, and several other members. Executive committee members serve for a term of four years.
The IPA organizes regional and international conferences as part of its objective to bring together those interested in permafrost and permafrost-related subjects to share knowledge and exchange experiences. International conferences are held every four years, and take place in cities all over the world. Regional conferences are less regularly scheduled but typically take place at least midway between international conferences. The IPA organizes regional and international scientific conferences.
The First International Conference on Permafrost (ICOP), held at Purdue University, Indiana, in 1963, was the first major contact between Russian and western scientists (Brown and Walker 2007). The conference was a historic event in that it brought together, for the first time, leading researchers and practitioners from North America and other countries with diverse interests and activities in the study and applications of perennially frozen ground, cold regions engineering and related laboratory investigations. The Proceedings is considered to be the first multi-national, English-language collection of papers devoted entirely to permafrost. Since 1963, eleven additional international conferences have been held: two more in the United States (Fairbanks 1983, 2008), the Soviet Union and Russia (Yakutsk 1973, Salekhard 2012), Canada (Edmonton 1978, Yellowknife 1998), Norway (Trondheim 1988), China (Beijing 1993), Switzerland (Zurich 2003) and Germany (Potsdam 2016). The international conference scheduled for 2020 in Lanzhou, China, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The next international conference will take place in Whitehorse, Canada in 2024. The IPA was formed in 1983 and subsequent conferences were under the IPA auspices.
The IPA was borne from discussions at the second and third ICOP, which established that further conferences would be advantageous to all and confirmed the desire for an organizational structure that would ensure future conferences, respectively. The National Research Council of Canada (NRCC), through its Bureau of International Relations and the Division of Building Research (DBR), established a task force in 1981 to draft a set of organizational rules. At the Fourth ICOP in 1983, Hugh French, leader of the Canadian delegation, convened a special meeting of the leaders of the official delegations from the USA, USSR and China. Professor Troy L. Péwé (USA), Academician P. I. Melnikov (USSR), and Professor Shi Yafeng (China) attended this meeting together with advisors. It was agreed to form an international association. The primary mandate of the newly-formed Association was to organize and promote international conferences on permafrost. A secondary role was to encourage and facilitate the international exchange of scientific information among permafrost scientists and engineers. The Executive Committee consisted of Academician Melnikov (President), Professor Péwé and Dr. Kaare Flaate, (Vice-Presidents), and Professor J. Ross Mackay (Secretary-General).
Since then, the IPA has established itself as a productive international organization which addresses permafrost issues and promotes the development of permafrost science and engineering, including a multi-language glossary, circum-arctic maps of permafrost, and the establishment of several monitoring networks. These collective activities develop and sustain international activities, particularly those related to the state and fate of permafrost in relation to a changing climate.
For a more detailed look at the history of the IPA, read the Full History.
The activities of the IPA Council and Executive are available
International Permafrost Association Constitution and Bylaws
The Constitution was adopted in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on 5 August 1987; revised by mail ballot on 1 December 1992; revised in Yellowknife, N.W.T., Canada, on 23 and 26 June 1998; revised by mail ballot 1 March 2003; revised in Potsdam, Germany, on 12 June 2005; revised by mail ballot in May 2006; revised by mail ballot in July 2010 following Council in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, on 14 June 2010; revised by mail ballot in December 2017 following Council on 19 June 2016 in Potsdam, Germany; revised by mail ballot in December 2018 following Council on 24 June 2018 in Chamonix, France.
Preamble and Definitions
The IPA was founded during the Fourth International Conference on Permafrost held in Fairbanks, Alaska, in July 1983. The founding countries were Canada, The People’s Republic of China, U.S.A. and U.S.S.R (Russia). The founding of the IPA and the election of its Executive Committee members was announced at the closing plenary session, a set of principles was distributed to the delegates, and other countries with an interest in permafrost were invited to become members of the IPA.
The organizations referred to in the Constitution and Bylaws are defined as follows:
- The Council is the governing body of the Association.
- An Adhering Body is a representative organization or committee designated to represent in the Council of the Association the interests in permafrost of scientists and engineers of a country.
- The Executive Committee and Secretariat, led by the Executive Director, conduct the day-to-day activities of the Association and implement and communicate the policies and views of the Association’s Council between meetings.
- Standing Committees, Action Groups, and Interest Groups perform designated activities as approved by the Council.
- Individual Members are individuals that are members of the IPA independent of the existence of an Adhering Body in their country of residence.
The mission of the IPA (hereafter called the Association) is to promote research in permafrost and permafrost-related fields within the global scientific and engineering communities, to support the activities of researchers in these disciplines, and to disseminate findings concerning permafrost to the decision-makers, the general public and educators.
The objectives of the Association are:
- To foster scientific and engineering research in permafrost and permafrost-related fields globally through the formation of Action Groups, Interest Groups, and the like, and to support the activities of these groups.
- To be a point of access for accurate permafrost and permafrost-related information for the global scientific and engineering communities, decision-makers and politicians, the media and the general public, including those who live in permafrost regions.
- To assist society at all levels in identifying and mitigating permafrost-related problems.
- To develop key synthesis products and other publications concerning permafrost, such as maps, databases, reports and the like, and to enable the widest possible public access to these materials.
- To develop educational and outreach products to increase understanding of permafrost and permafrost-related subjects among youth.
- To bring together all those interested in permafrost and permafrost-related subjects at regular intervals to share knowledge and exchange experiences at International and Regional Conferences on Permafrost, as well as in specialized workshops and special sessions at multidisciplinary conferences.
- To encourage young scientists and engineers to pursue careers in permafrost and permafrost-related fields by involving them fully in the organization and its activities.
- To provide recognition for researchers through a series of awards and prizes that raise the profiles of the individuals and the IPA as a whole.
- To encourage permafrost researchers within individual Adhering Bodies or geographical groupings to focus on all permafrost types in both hemispheres.
The Association will accomplish these objectives by:
- Holding an International Conference on Permafrost (ICOP) approximately every four years and holding a Regional Conference on Permafrost (RCOP) in certain years without an ICOP and at least mid-way between ICOPs;
- Supporting the activities of Standing Committees, Action Groups and Interest Groups.
- Holding Council meetings at approximately two-year intervals at the time of the International Conference and at the time of appropriate regional conferences;
- Cooperating with other national and international organizations whose aims are complementary to those of the Association;
- Exchanging information through its Adhering Bodies, Associate Members and Individual Members;
- Promoting cooperative activities and the development of knowledge concerning permafrost environments.
Membership in the Association is through Adhering Bodies, Associate Members and Individual Members. There shall be only one Adhering Body per country. National or multi-national organizations wishing to join the Association must submit to the Secretariat documentation showing the existence of a bona fide Adhering Body, its mailing address and the names of its officers. Membership in the Association must have the approval of two-thirds of the full Council. An Associate member consists normally of up to three persons from a country that does not have an Adhering Body. The Council has the right to terminate the membership of any Adhering Body or Associate Member by a two-thirds majority vote of the full Council. Individual Members are individuals registered with the Association and Adhering Bodies (if applicable) but who do not have the right to vote at Council.
5. Adhering Bodies and Associate Members
An Adhering Body is free to establish its articles of association and its organization in accordance with its requirements. The Association encourages the communication of these articles of association to the Secretariat and advocates their conformity to principles of democracy and transparency.
An Adhering Body shall at all times keep the Secretariat informed about its address and the names of its officers, of its representatives to Council and of the organization it relies on to pay its dues when applicable. An Associate Member shall provide to the Secretariat information on its members’ names and addresses.
6. Executive Committee of the Association
The Executive Committee of the IPA consists of:
- The President and up to two Vice-Presidents,
- Sufficient Ordinary Members to make up a committee of six or seven.
The Executive Committee shall be nominated in accordance with the rules stated in the Bylaws and shall be elected by the Council. Normally, the Executive Committee members shall be from different countries and represent a range of expertise in permafrost science and engineering.
The members of the Executive Committee of the Association shall serve from the start of the second Council meeting of an ICOP or an RCOP to the end of the first Council meeting approximately four years later.
The President shall represent the Association and shall perform the duties pertaining to that office, as well as those entrusted to him or her by the Constitution and Bylaws or by the Council. The President shall be responsible, in collaboration with the other Executive Committee members of the Association, for the conduct of its affairs.
In the event of the resignation or death of the President, one of the Vice-Presidents will assume the office for the unexpired term of office.
In the event of the resignation or death of one of the Vice-Presidents, or if one of the Vice-Presidents assumes the office of President, the Executive Committee will appoint a successor from among its members who will complete the term of office.
The location of the Secretariat and the choice of Executive Director shall be recommended by the Executive Committee and approved by the Council. The Secretariat shall not represent an Adhering Body on the Council.
The Council shall consist of the Executive Committee, no more than two representatives from each Adhering Body, and a representative of each Associate Member. Other persons, including Individual Members, may attend Council as observers.
Each Adhering Body shall have a vote. If no official representative is able to attend a meeting of the Council, his or her vote may be cast by an authorized proxy designated in writing or electronic mail by the Adhering Body and provided to the Secretariat. Associate Members may be represented by one person at the Council but shall have no vote. Observers present shall have no vote.
The Council shall be presided over by the President of the Association, or, in case of his or her incapacity or inability to attend, by a Vice-President. The President or acting President votes only in the event of an equal decision of votes, when he or she shall cast the deciding vote. Other members of the Executive Committee do not have the right to vote.
The Council shall meet in ordinary session at the call of the President normally every two years during an International Conference on Permafrost or a Regional Conference on Permafrost. The Council may meet in extraordinary session at the call of the President or at the request of a majority of the Adhering Bodies. The Council may make decisions by written or electronic communication on questions put to it through the Secretariat with the approval of the President.
The Council may set up, by a simple majority vote, Standing and Ad Hoc Committees, or Interest Groups with whatever powers and terms of reference it may decide.
The Council shall determine, with the advice of the Executive Committee, the annual subscription fee to the Association. The Council shall review the annual budget and, unless there is an objection, the Secretariat, with approval of the Executive Committee, shall disburse the funds. The responsibilities of the Council may be executed by electronic mail ballot, unless there is an objection.
8. Individual Members
Individual Members are individuals officially registered with the Association through electronic adhesion, whether or not an Adhering Body exists in their country of residence. Individual Members shall not vote at Council but are entitled to receive communications from the Secretariat on the deliberation of the Council
9. International Conference on Permafrost and Regional Conference on Permafrost
An International Conference on Permafrost (ICOP) shall be held approximately every fourth year in a country to be decided upon by the Council. A Regional Conference on Permafrost (RCOP) that is proposed by an IPA council member and sponsored by the IPA will be held in the second year following an ICOP. Regional Conferences may also be held in other years without an ICOP. The organization and financing arrangements of an International or a Regional Conference are the responsibility of the Adhering Body of the host country. The Adhering Body shall follow the principles, rules and procedures for the Conference set out in the Bylaws and any additional procedures approved by the Council, including guidelines prescribed by the International Conference Advisory Committee (IAC). An IAC for the ICOP shall be appointed by the Council to provide continuity in maintaining Conference policies and to assist in other matters as requested by the hosting member. The organizers of an ICOP or a RCOP, or any international conference sponsored by the Association shall donate a portion of the registration fees to the Association. The Association shall not be held liable for financial losses, damages, injuries or any hazardous occurrence involving financial misfortune incurred by, or caused by, the participants or the organizers of a sponsored conference.
10. Entry into Force of Constitution and Bylaws
This Constitution and Bylaws shall come into force at the close of the session at which they receive the approval of at least two-thirds of the full Council.
11. Amendments to Constitution and Bylaws
Amendments to the Constitution and these Bylaws must be proposed by an Adhering Body or the Executive Committee. Such amendments shall be submitted in writing or electronic mail to the Secretariat early enough to have the proposal submitted to all Adhering Bodies at least six months prior to the Council meeting at which the amendment(s) is to be placed on the agenda. An extraordinary mail or electronic ballot can be conducted between Council meetings.
Adoption of amendments to the Constitution requires an affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of the full Council (Adhering Bodies in good standing).
Amendments to the Bylaws shall follow the same procedure except that a simple majority in
favour of the amendments is required instead of two-thirds, as above.
12. Non-Profit Organization
The International Permafrost Association shall be carried on without purpose of gain for its members and any income or other accretions to the International Permafrost Association shall be used in promoting the objectives of the Association.
- A quorum for a Council meeting shall be a simple majority of the Adhering Bodies,
except if changes in the Constitution are to be made or a vote is to be held on the acceptance of an application for membership. In these cases, a quorum shall be two-thirds of the full Council (Adhering Bodies in good standing).
- Any Adhering Body that will not be present for a vote requiring a two-thirds majority may submit its views and vote in advance in writing or by electronic mail. In this case that Adhering Body will be regarded as being present for the purposes of the quorum for the vote.
- Voting shall be by a show of hands except for the election of the Executive Committee, the location of the next International Conference on Permafrost, or for other matters specified at the time by the presiding member of the Executive Committee. Between Council meetings, voting usually performed by a show of hands may take place in the form of postal or electronic mail.
- Resolutions shall be made by a simple majority of those voting, except for resolutions altering the Constitution or on the acceptance of new Adhering Bodies and Associate Members, for which the assent of two-thirds of the Council is required.
- Adhering Bodies wishing to have items placed on the agenda should submit them not less than six months before a Council meeting. Three months before the meeting the Secretariat will send the complete agenda to each Adhering Body and representative of an Associate Member. The agenda for the ordinary meeting of Council shall generally include the following items:
- Minutes of previous meeting
- Acceptance of new Adhering Bodies and Associate Members
- Business raised by the President
- Business raised by the Adhering Bodies and Associate Members
- Business from other sources
- Financial statement for the preceding period and the draft budget for the ensuing period
- International Conference and Regional Conference
- Election of members to the Executive Committee
- Appointment of Executive Director
- Review of activities and reports of Committees, Action Groups and Interest Groups
- Items submitted after preparation of agenda, subject to agreement of presiding Executive Committee member
- Any other business
2. Nomination and Election of Executive Committee
The Executive Committee shall appoint a Nominating and Awards Committee (NAC) of an appropriate number from the Council one year before an ICOP. The NAC will serve for a period of four years.
The Adhering Bodies will call for nominations for the Executive Committee, including self-nominations, from among their own members. Each Adhering Body can forward a maximum of two candidacies to the IPA NAC. The NAC will screen the candidates nominated by the Adhering Bodies in order to develop, to the extent possible, a representative selection of nominees that is balanced between (a) permafrost science and engineering, (b) geographical region, and (c) gender. The NAC may include candidates that were not forwarded by Adhering Bodies. The Chair of the NAC will obtain approval from the candidates that they are willing to be nominees and to serve if elected. About six months before a Conference, the NAC will submit to the Secretariat (1) the names of an appropriate number of candidates for election by the Council and (2) a brief report that names the NAC members, and outlines the process (call for nominations) and the results of the deliberations. The Secretariat, upon receipt of the report of the NAC, shall so inform the Adhering Bodies.
The IPA Council will elect new members to the Executive Committee every two years by secret ballot, according to the number of open positions. Candidates may make a brief presentation to the Council, but shall leave the room during voting. Ballots will be counted by non-voting members of the Council appointed by the President. To be elected, a candidate must receive a majority of the votes cast. In the event that no candidate receives a majority in a given ballot, the candidate with the lowest number of votes will be dropped off the ballot and a new vote taken. Once a member is elected, all remaining candidates will be placed back on the ballot and voting will continue until the next member receives a majority of the votes cast. Voting will stop when all available positions on the Executive have been filled.
The newly elected Executive Committee will hold a meeting to appoint the Vice-Presidents from among their number. This meeting is chaired by the President. Two years before the end of the President’s term of office, a Senior Vice-President will be selected by the Executive Committee.
The Senior Vice-President will automatically become the new President of the IPA at the end of the previous President’s term and will serve for four years. If the Senior Vice-President withdraws, the Executive Committee will appoint a new Senior Vice-President. If the President resigns, the Senior Vice-President will automatically become President or, if there is no Senior Vice-President, the Executive Committee will appoint a new President from within its membership.
After the President and Vice-President positions are filled, if the Executive Committee determines that there is regional, disciplinary or other imbalance among its members, or if it lacks a member from the country hosting the next International Conference, it may (with unanimous consent) appoint a seventh member to serve until the next election.
The Secretariat is normally led by an Executive Director.
The Executive Director will be nominated to the Council by the Executive Committee. The position will be reviewed every four years or more frequently if external funding sources for the position change.
The Executive Director will be responsible, under the general direction of the President, for the conduct of current business of the Association, for the preparation and distribution of the Agenda of the Council meetings and for the preparation and maintenance of minutes.
The Executive Director shall send to each Adhering Body an annual account of the dues owing, and shall ensure that all contributions and dues paid to the Association are placed in a bank account and that a record is kept. The Executive Director, or duly appointed surrogate, is responsible for keeping the accounts of the Association, for the preparation of the annual budget of receipts and expenditures, and for payments on behalf of the Association up to the limit of the approved budget, and shall acknowledge all moneys received. The Executive Director shall prepare a summary of the accounts for each meeting of the Council and shall give any explanation required of expenses incurred.
- Invitations to act as host for an International Conference on Permafrost and the accompanying Council meetings shall be considered at the same time as a meeting of the Council, designated by the Executive Committee one year in advance, and held no less than 4 years and no more than 8 years before the International Conference under consideration.
The inviting country must provide assurance that no individual will be denied attendance on grounds of nationality, race, creed or political views. If an invitation is received from more than one Adhering Body the final selection shall be made by secret ballot according to proportional voting (based on units paid).
Arrangements for the International Conference on Permafrost shall be the responsibility of the organizing Committee of the host country, in consultation with the Executive Committee and the International Conference Advisory Committee.
- Invitations to act as a host for a Regional Conference on Permafrost which includes meetings of Council, shall be considered at the same time as the meeting of the Council at the time of the preceding Regional Conference.
- Invitations to act as a host for a Regional Conference on Permafrost which does not include meetings of Council shall be considered either by a prior Council or by the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee may also encourage individual Adhering Bodies to organize an RCOP in order to promote geographical breadth in the sequence of permafrost conferences. To be termed a Regional Conference, such meetings must invite contributions on both permafrost science and permafrost engineering.
- Adhering Bodies or their affiliates, Committees, Action Groups, and Interest Groups are encouraged to organize technical meetings. These may be designated as sponsored or co-sponsored by the International Permafrost Association if approved by the Council or the Executive Committee.
- Organisers of International and Regional Conferences on Permafrost must undertake to donate a portion of the registration fees to the Association at a level fixed from time to time by Council. The level for a particular conference will not be changed after the invitation to host the conference has been accepted.
5. Committees, Action Groups, and Interest Groups
The organization and activities of Committees, Action Groups, and Interest Groups are governed by guidelines approved by the Council.
6. IPA Awards and Prizes
The Council may establish awards and prizes from time to time that honour individuals or groups whose contributions to permafrost science or permafrost engineering merit recognition by the Association. The attribution of these awards will be made according to guidelines approved by the Council, following nomination by adhering bodies and evaluation by the Nomination and Awards Committee.