Memorandum of Understanding between the Members of the Environmental Pillar of Social Partnership in Ireland
This Memorandum of Understanding or MOU is designed to establish a clear understanding of how the Environmental Pillar will practically function and the roles, rights and responsibilities of each Member Organisation of the Environmental Pillar.
On 17th April 2009 the following Environmental Organisations agreed to be bound by this Memorandum of Understanding with regard to their joint involvement in Social Partnership. Agreement to be bound by this memorandum shall be a condition of entry into the Environmental Pillar of Social Partnership.
|An Taisce||Hedge Laying Association of Ireland|
|Bat Conservation Ireland||Irish Doctors’ Environmental Association|
|BirdWatch Ireland||Irish Natural Forestry Foundation|
|CELT||Irish Peatland Conservation Council|
|Coastwatch||Irish Seal Sanctuary|
|Coomhola Salmon Trust||Irish Seed Savers Association|
|Crann||Irish Whale & Dolphin Group|
|ECO-UNESCO||Irish Wildlife Trust|
|Forest Friends||Sustainable Ireland|
|Friends of the Earth||The Organic Centre|
|Global Action Plan Ireland||VOICE|
|Gluaiseacht||Zero Waste Alliance|
1. Date of Commencement
This revised Memorandum of Understanding will come into effect from Friday 20th May 2011
2. Review of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Members of the Environmental Pillar of Social Partnership
This Memorandum of Understanding will be subject to a review by the Member Organisations at least within a year of the pillar being established, and then tabled for review annually or as deemed necessary. The Pillar Plenary is empowered to agree revisions to the Memorandum Of Understanding and these revisions become binding upon Member Organisations with immediate effect, unless otherwise agreed.
3. Structure of the Pillar
The Environment Pillar will be made up of one Social Partner named “The Environmental Pillar”. The Irish Environmental Network will arrange the funding for and provision of a Secretariat and other resources for the Environmental Pillar and will appoint a Coordinator for the Environmental Pillar. The Coordinator will facilitate the activities of the Environmental Pillar.
4. The Membership of the Environmental Pillar
4.1 Membership of the Environmental Pillar shall be restricted to those organisations that fulfil the requirements listed here in section 4 of this MOU and in Appendix I below, and that are signatories to this Memorandum Of Understanding.
4.1.1 The organisations that have signed the Memorandum Of Understanding and thus make up the body of the Environmental Pillar will be known as the Member Organisations
4.1.2 Member Organisations are represented at Pillar meetings by Member Representatives. How Member Organisations select their Member Representatives is an internal matter for the Member Organisations
4.2 New Members of the Environmental Pillar
4.2.1 Applications to become a Member should be made on the official application form.
4.2.2 Applicants at a minimum must satisfy the criteria in Appendix I of this MOU in order to be accepted as a Member of the Pillar.
4.2.3 Applications should be sent to the Coordinator, who will forward them to the Member Organisations of the Environmental Pillar requesting any relevant comments from them. Following this consultation, the Steering Committee will consider the application and the comments and make a recommendation to the Environmental Pillar Plenary as to the admissibility of any application and as to whether to accept or reject the application for membership. The final decision on admission of new applicants rests with the Plenary meeting of the Environmental Pillar.
4.2.4 The Coordinator will communicate the decision of the Plenary meeting of the Environmental Pillar in writing to the candidate organisation within 16 weeks of receipt of the application. In circumstances where this is not possible within 16 weeks, the applicant will be notified and advised of a date when the decision will be made.
4.2.5 A candidate organisation whose application has been rejected may then appeal in writing against the decision to the Coordinator. This appeal will then be considered at the Pillar Plenary meeting following on from the date of the appeal. In circumstances where this is not possible, the applicant will be notified and advised of the date when the appeal will be considered.
4.2.6 The Pillar Plenary will consider the appeal of the candidate organisation and then the Member Representatives will vote on the acceptance of the application. A minimum of a 2/3 majority of those attending the Plenary will be required to overturn its previous decision regarding a membership application.
4.2.7 The Coordinator will communicate the decision of the Pillar Plenary in writing to the candidate organisation within 2 working weeks of the of the appeal hearing.
4.2.8 All members of the Environmental Pillar must sign the Memorandum of Understanding between the Members of the Pillar.
4.2.9 The Department of the Taoiseach will be notified of any proposed changes to the membership of the Pillar.
4.2.10 No organisation can re-apply within two years.
4.3 Member Organisations must confirm annually that they remain eligible for and committed to membership of the Environmental Pillar by signing the most recently revised version of the Memorandum Of Understanding between the Member Organisations.
5 Governance of the Pillar
5.1 Meetings of the Pillar
Each Member Organisation will select two people to represent them on the Pillar. One of these people will be deemed to be the main Representative and the other deemed to be the Alternate. They will collectively be known as Member Representatives but if clarification is required they will be individually known and the Main Member Representative and the Alternate Member Representative.
5.1.2 Member Representatives shall meet regularly to direct the activities of the Pillar and in order to prepare for and respond to: the Plenary and Steering Group meetings of Social Partnership; the Council meetings of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC); and the activities of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).
5.1.3 All Member Representatives shall have the right to attend meetings of the Pillar. It is expected that all the Member Organisations will be represented by their Member Representatives at Pillar plenary meetings.
5.1.4 Where there are barriers to participation in Pillar meetings such as timing and location of meetings, then the Secretariat will make every effort to identify and remove those barriers. Where a Member Organisation is not represented at a Pillar plenary, because neither of the Member Representatives are able to attend in person, they should, wherever possible, be enabled to participate in meetings using audio or audio-visual tools.
5.1.5 A Plenary Meeting of the Pillar shall be deemed a valid meeting if 35% of the Member Organisations are represented and also only if 4 of those present are members of the environmental Pillar Steering Committee.
5.1.6 A Quorum of the Steering Committee is 4 elected Steering Committee representatives.
5.1.7 The Steering Committee of the Pillar acts to promote the decisions of the Pillar Plenary, and is made up of the Elected Representatives to the Steering Group of the national Social Partnership arrangements .
5.2 Chairing Pillar Meetings
5.2.1 Chairing of the Pillar will be a shared responsibility, with the chair being selected from Member Representatives
5.2.2 Appointment of the Chairperson for the period until the end of the next meeting will be the first item on the agenda at each meeting. The newly appointed Chairperson will take up responsibilities at the end of the meeting at which the appointment is made and continue those responsibilities to the end of the next meeting.
5.3 Mechanisms to elect Representatives to the Social Partnership Steering Group, the NESC Council, the EESC and other external bodies.
Nominees to positions on external bodies will be selected by election to represent or act as an alternate to represent the Pillar in its external affairs. Collectively they will be known as Elected Representative to the (name of body concerned) but if clarification is required, they will be known as the: “The Main Elected Representative to the (name of body concerned)”, or the “Alternate Elected Representative to the (name of body concerned)”.
5.3.2 Nominees to external bodies will be selected to represent the Pillar in its external affairs by means of a single preferendum. Elected Representatives are elected in priority order by the preferendum. Vacancies will be filled by the same priority order. If one of those elected as a Main Representative wishes only to be an Alternate they may drop down the list as appropriate.
5.3.3 There is no restriction to the number of nominations a Member Organisation can make to any elected position
5.3.4 Member Organisations can nominate the same person to multiple positions and Member Representatives are allowed to hold multiple elected positions
5.3.5 Nominees must declare if they are a member of a political party and are expected to state any potential conflicts of interest. Anyone elected to or running for public office may not be an Elected Representative.
5.3.6 Each Member Organisation has one vote in each election.
5.3.7 The timing of elections to the external bodies will follow the cycle laid down by relevant body. The exception to this will be the election to select the members of the Steering Group of national Social Partnership which will take place annually.
5.3.8 Elections to all external positions will be reviewed internally by the Pillar at least every 24 months
5.3.9 In the case of elections for the Steering Group of national Social Partnership and the NESC Council, the Plenary of the Environmental Pillar will decide prior to each election, whether or not to appoint the Social Partnership Coordinator as one of the Representatives. If appointed, the Social Partnership Coordinator shall be bound by the same MOU that all the Elected Representatives are required to sign before taking up their elected positions.
5.3.10 Elected Representatives shall be answerable to and guided by the Pillar Plenary.
5.3.11 Persons acting as Elected Representatives must advocate on behalf of the whole Pillar membership, when engaged with the bodies to which they have been nominated by the Pillar.
5.3.12 Elected Representatives are responsible for providing written reports of all meetings attended in this role. The secretariat will be responsible for the dissemination of the reports.
5.3.13 Elected Representatives to the Steering Group of national Social Partnership will form the Environmental Pillar Steering Committee.
6 Working Procedures and Guidelines
6.1 Within the limits of available resources, Member Representatives will strive, as far as possible to:
6.1.1 Attend and participate in Pillar plenary meetings
6.1.2 Register apologies to the secretariat if unable to attend
6.1.3 Participate on work groups as needed
6.1.4 When working within the Pillar try to work collaboratively in the interests of the Pillar as a whole.
6.1.5 Advocate on behalf of the whole Pillar in accordance with the MOU
6.1.6 Complete tasks undertaken by them within the time allotted
6.1.7 Respond to emails requesting feedback/input in the time span requested.
6.2 Guidelines re Decision-making
6.2.1 Mutual respect for individual Member Organisations’ cultures and structures
6.2.2 Every Member Organisation agrees to balance individual/organisational rights with the merits of co-operation and compromise.
6.2.3 Member Organisations agree that individual rights exist in a context of coalition building – we benefit most when we engage collectively.
6.2.4 In order to foster open and creative discussion all internal communications within the Pillar are confidential, unless the Member Organisations agree otherwise.
6.2.5 A Member Organisation choosing to progress a controversial agenda item acknowledges that this decision may affect levels of solidarity.
6.2.6 The Pillar should operate as much as possible without voting – using consensus, with the understanding that a consensual approach does not necessarily imply unanimity.
6.2.7 If a Member Organisation considers that an agenda item is impacting on the capacity of the Pillar to conduct its business, this issue will be named.
6.2.8 Problem solving could consist of:
188.8.131.52 Drop agenda item
184.108.40.206 Pursue issue elsewhere
220.127.116.11 Agree that it does not impact negatively
18.104.22.168 Go ahead with a majority view
6.2.9 A Member Organisation is free to progress an issue outside the Pillar structure/process and is asked to bear that in mind in terms of enabling the overall effectiveness of the Pillar.
6.2.10 If decisions are required between meetings:
22.214.171.124 The secretariat will contact the Member Representatives by email and outline a suggested way forward plus a time-span for responses from Member Organisations.
126.96.36.199 Each Member Representative is free to comment before the deadline and input to the decision-making process. A gradient of responses will be used to track respondents comments/views as follows:
To be adopted, a proposal needs at least 10 Member Organisations to vote in its favour (levels1,2 or 3). This number must be greater than those voting 5,6, 7 or 8. The right to veto is expressed by returning a 9. Votes at the 4 level (abstain) don’t count either way and groups that don’t vote are counted as a 4.
|Gradient of Agreement||What it means|
|Endorsement||“I like it”|
|Endorsement with minor reservations||“Basically I like it”|
|Agreement with reservations||“I can live with it”|
|Abstain (includes no vote cast)||“I have no opinion or I don’t mind. I’m ok with the rest of the group making this decision for the Pillar”|
|Unconvinced||“I don’t have a strong opinion but I’m not voting to adopt the proposal”|
|Stand Aside||“I don’t like this much, but I’m not formally disagreeing. If there’s a majority for it then let’s go ahead”|
|Formal Disagreement but willing to go with majority||“I want my disagreement noted in writing but I’ll support a majority decision”|
|Formal Disagreement with request to be absolved of responsibility for implementation||“I want my disagreement noted in writing and I don’t want to be involved in implementing it”|
|Block||“I veto this proposal”|
188.8.131.52 A veto must be supported by an explanatory statement, and a Member Organisation should make every effort to achieve consensus where possible. To this end, a Member Organisation intending to use the Veto should contact the Coordinator at the earliest opportunity to see if a satisfactory compromise can be reached.
184.108.40.206 If a Member Organisation chooses to use the veto it means that the decision is postponed until the next Pillar Plenary meeting.
220.127.116.11 In the case where a decision is absolutely necessary before the next Pillar Plenary meeting, the secretariat will gather the above responses and progress accordingly, using the agreed ‘problem solving’ techniques as outlined in 6.2.7 above.
6.3 Pillar Meetings
6.3.1 The Pillar work processes are advanced primarily through the mechanism of regular Pillar meetings. The two regularly occurring forms of meeting will be meetings of the full Pillar in Plenary and meetings of the Pillar Steering Committee
6.3.2 The meeting attendees agree an agenda at the start of each meeting and the Chair is empowered to work within the agreed time schedule and agenda.
6.3.3 The meeting attendees agree to abide by the process as determined by the Chairperson.
6.3.4 The currently elected Chairperson, in collaboration with the Secretariat, is responsible for gathering agenda items and circulating the proposed agenda with supporting documentation to the Member Representative at least 7 days in advance of the meeting date.
6.3.5 The minutes are taken by the secretariat and distributed, along with all relevant documents, to the Member Representatives, as soon as possible after the meeting
6.3.6 It is the responsibility of the Member Representatives to ensure that the minutes of Pillar meetings, along with all relevant documents, are distributed to the membership of the Member Organisation that they represent.
6.3.7 A meeting called in addition to the monthly meeting is called an Extraordinary Plenary. This is for exceptional circumstances only.
18.104.22.168 To call an Extraordinary Plenary meeting a Member Organisation must get the support of two other Member Organisations, and inform the coordinator at the earliest opportunity of their intention.
22.214.171.124 All Member Organisations shall be given notice of an Extraordinary Plenary meeting by text and by email.
126.96.36.199 There is no minimum notice for such a meeting being called. However, all efforts must be made to maximise the period between calling the meeting and the meeting taking place.
188.8.131.52 Any Member Organisation calling for an Extraordinary Plenary must give full reasons why the meeting is being called, why the issue cannot wait for the ordinary Plenary, a precise agenda and a full explanation of what the intended outcome is.
184.108.40.206 The Member Organisation calling for an Extraordinary Plenary shall:
220.127.116.11.1 At the earliest possible moment, send out an alerting text and an email giving full reasons why the meeting is being called, why the issue cannot wait for the bi-monthly plenary, a precise agenda and a full explanation of what the intended outcome is with specific reference as to the need for short notice
18.104.22.168.2 Take feedback from other groups with regard to the need for and content and timing of the proposed Extraordinary Plenary meeting
22.214.171.124.3 The decisions or other outcomes from the Extraordinary Plenary meeting are automatically reported and evaluated at the next ordinary Plenary
6.4 Social Partnership Steering Group and NESC Meetings
It shall be the responsibility of the Social Partnership Coordinator and the Secretariat to ensure that reports of, and notifications for, these meetings, together with associated documents, are distributed to the Member Representatives as expeditiously as possible.
6.5 Working Groups
The Pillar can form or designate working groups to work on specific issues. Membership of a working group is voluntary and all working groups are advisory in nature unless specifically stated otherwise. The Pillar Plenary is to agree at the outset what kind of authorisation is given to the working group and what kind of ‘reporting back’ mechanisms it wishes if any more than just updates at the next Pillar meeting.
6.6 The Wider Environmental Community
The Environmental Pillar strives to consult with the wider environmental community.
6.7 Creating Pillar Policies or other Documents for Publication
6.7.1 The Pillar Plenary may initiate a particular policy development process which will continue as in 6.7.6 and 6.7.7 below
6.7.2 Alternatively at any time a Member Organisation that wishes to create a policy document must get the support of two other Member Organisations to trigger policy creation.
6.7.3 The proposal for the creation of a policy document must include an outline of the proposed policy together with the rationale for the proposal. These three Member organisations must therefore be in agreement about the need for the creation of the new policy.
6.7.4 The three Member Organisations must inform the membership of the policy creation process that has been initiated, including all the information listed in 6.7.3 above
6.7.5 Once the three Member Organisations are in agreement on the substance of the policy proposal, the secretariat will facilitate the process taking input from all interested member organisations until the document is deemed to be in a state ready for voting.
6.7.6 This process will be a two stage process in which comments are sought on the initial proposal, a first draft revised policy is drawn up by arrangement between the proposer and the coordinator, and this is circulated to the Member Organisations for final comment before the final draft is voted upon. Where necessary further drafts may be circulated for comment prior to voting
6.7.8 The Voting Process will follow as described in 126.96.36.199 above.
6.7.9 All documents or press releases published by the Environmental Pillar must carry the caveat: This (submission/policy document/press release etc) was developed using the Environmental Pillar processes but is not necessarily the policy of each member group in the pillar.
6.8 Reviewing Pillar Policy
Policy documents can be reviewed at any time but will be systematically reviewed on a 2 year basis. The processes are as follows:
6.8.1 In the case of a biennial systematic review, and at the appropriate time, the Secretariat will bring the opportunity for a review to the attention of the Member Representatives
6.8.2 At any time a Member Organisation that wishes to change a policy document must get the support of two other Member Organisations to trigger a review.
6.8.3 The request for review must clearly state the sections of the policy document that are to be reviewed and include the changes that are proposed together with the rationale for these changes. These three Member Organisations must therefore be in agreement about the changes that they wish to see.
6.8.4 The three Member Organisations must inform the membership of the Pillar of the review that has been initiated, including all the information listed in 6.8.3 above
6.8.5 Once the three Member Organisations are in agreement on the substance of the request for review, the secretariat will facilitate a review process taking input from all interested Member Organisations until the revised document is deemed to be in a state ready for voting.
6.8.6 This process will be a two stage process in which comments are sought on the initial proposal, a draft revised policy is drawn up by the coordinator, and this is circulated to the Member Organisations for final comment before the final draft is voted upon. Where necessary further drafts may be circulated for comment prior to voting
6.8.7 The Voting Process will follow as described in 188.8.131.52 above
6.8.8 Until such time that the review process is complete, the existing policy remains in place.
6.9 Conflict Resolution
Where there is a matter that cannot be resolved within the context of the ordinary meetings of the Environmental Pillar the following procedures will be followed and every effort should be made to resolve the issue as soon as possible:
6.9.1 The relevant person(s) and the Pillar Chairperson will meet to try and resolve it
6.9.2 If this is not successful the relevant person(s) and the Chairperson will meet with the chief executive or other appropriate person of the Representative(s) Member Organisation
6.9.3 If this does not resolve it the relevant person(s), the Pillar Chairperson and the appropriate person(s) from the Member Organisation(s) will meet with an agreed independent mediator from the register of either Mediation Forum Ireland or the Mediation Institute of Ireland.
6.9.4 If this does not resolve it the matter will be referred to the Pillar Plenary, with the mediator in attendance. If either or both parties require it, an external facilitator will be provided. An agreement is to be reached and if necessary a vote called with the requirement for a 2/3 or greater majority.
7 Agreement to the Memorandum of Understanding
As authorised by the environmental non-governmental organisation we represent, and whose name and address is inscribed below, we agree to act according to this Memorandum of Understanding between the Members of the Environmental Pillar.
Appendix I Criteria for Membership of the Environmental Pillar
Eligibility criteria for an organisation seeking Membership of the Environmental Pillar
- The primary objectives and activities of the candidate organisation must be environmental (i.e. ecological) protection and / or environmental sustainability.
- The candidate organisation must be a not for profit organisation.
- The candidate organisation must have a demonstrable national remit. Qualifying characteristics include: national influence; specialist activity covering the country; convincing geographic spread of active membership; outreach activity.
- The candidate organisation must be a registered company, or have charitable status, or be a registered friendly society with a registered constitution. The organisation must have been incorporated, registered or have enjoyed charitable status for a period of at least 12 months prior to an application for membership.
- The candidate organisation must be an independent and legally discrete body, not a subgroup or activity of another organisation, nor an organisation managing a project with a limited life span.
- The board of the candidate organisation should not share more than fifty per cent of its directors with another organisation.
- The candidate organisation must have audited accounts (from at least one of the previous two years) and / or be able to present a certifiable balance sheet for the previous year. The organisation must also be able to produce a current tax clearance certificate or official exemption.
- The candidate organisation must be able to demonstrate a substantial level of activity in promoting its aims and objectives over a period of at least 18 months prior to application for membership.
- The candidate organisation must demonstrate what unique contribution it can bring to the Environmental Pillar.
10. No candidate organisation whose executive board contains a representative or representatives appointed by any government department or local authority shall be admitted to membership. However, this does not exclude individuals from sitting on the board in a personal capacity.