Minutes of the Steering Group

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Mins 25th Sept Steering Group Monday





First Steering Group meeting May 2017

Present. Shaun McCarthy (Chair), Carole Ann Smith (secretariat), Staffan Soderberg, Adriana Rosenfeld, Antonio Astone, Jacques Schramm, Cristina Lopez.

Apologies. Tanya Harris, Jean-Louis Haie, Lex De Bruin, Josh Jacobs, Jose Abreu, Colin McKerracher, Cristine Fedator.

1. Introductions.

Shaun made brief introduction.

2. Operational Updates.

Carole Ann gave the operational update. Mentioned Google Analytics and potential costs, not recommending implementation at this stage.  CA read out Jean-Louis comments asking what did the committee think should be the priority for translating 3 items already on the website.  (Was discussed later in the agenda).

A comment was raised by Staffan that there are formal and informal translations so we should be cautious when assuming responsibility for translating any official documents. The most important thing is that we are true to the official translations of ISO 20400.     Post meeting note. There are no plans to translate official ISO documents and we will always ask the original authors permission to translate.

Social media was mentioned and the fact another person has a similar account dedicated to ISO 20400 on LinkedIn and Twitter.  Shaun was asked if he could approach Karin from Netherlands and see if the 2 sites could be merged.  Shaun agreed.

Action: Shaun to contact Karin from Netherlands to seek a resolution.

In conclusion, it was agreed to continue as is re: the operational update as the site is only three weeks old and inevitably it will develop over time.

3. Terms of reference

Shaun introduced the steering group profile 14 members, male / female from different countries around the world.  The Membership is open and Appendix 1 gave a matrix of the kind of member it is hoped will join.  There was agreement there should be a balance and an admission that we might not be able to fill every box and may indeed may need to cap numbers in some areas so that there are not too many in one group compared to the others to fill matrix fairly.  This was agreed.

Jacques suggested the Steering Group page has the countries represented by members to be on the photo page. It is possible to click through to find more information about members.

Action: Carole Ann to add countries to steering group page

A discussion took place around governance. The following principles were agreed:

  • The people and organisations funding the initiative make financial decisions only, preventing the possibility of any organisation “buying” influence over the content in future
  • The group will act as custodian of the content submitted to the site and any other non-financial matters arising. It will therefore remain a Steering Group. There should be clear governance i.e. describe decision making procedure in ToR, i.e. the chair of the steering group decides after reaching group consensus

Post meeting note: The delivery partner is legally liable for the site and data protection and must have power to decide legal matters

Action: Shaun to re-draft ToR to reflect these principles and present to the group for comment/approval

Shaun McCarthy offered to stand down as Chair and Staffan Soderberg suggested that Shaun should stay as Chair

This was agreed.

4. Guidance on content Types and Sources of content

Jacques commented that the website might be viewed today as a commercial website and not a non-for profit one because:

  • Many consultants appear as stakeholders or contributors
  • Among them Actionsustainability and UK appears frequently
  • There is direct mention and description of commercial services that can be proposed by actionsustainability to the market

This might limit confidence at international level and international development of the website


Shaun responded to say content from other countries and sources is very welcome but to date has not been forthcoming.

Action: Shaun/Carole Ann to remove any unnecessary references to Action Sustainability

Action: All to provide content through the web portal

It was agreed that text needed to be added to the home page to say how they were submitted with a disclaimer.

Post meeting note. Suggested words: This is a not for profit website for people with a legitimate interest in ISO 20400 to share their knowledge and experience. We cannot take responsibility for the validity of the content shared.

There was a discussion on the type of content to be encouraged. This fell broadly into three categories:

  1. Content that absolutely adheres to the letter of the standard
  2. Content that provides informed opinion about the standard, experience and interpretations of the standard
  3. General content about sustainable procurement that is relevant to the standard but not directly about the standard

There was no consensus on this issue and given the number of absentees it was decided to focus initially on 1. And 2. We will pick up the discussion when we have more feedback on the type of content users like to see.

Antonio Astone commented that the tools and guides section should be a separate area with ISO 20400 and an index to other subjects.  Topic is too wide would help reader and contributors.

The purpose of the Steering Group is to provide clear guidance on content and to be available to advise Carole Ann when required.

Action: Carole Ann to remove the link to NEVI as this is a commercial offering.

5. Future Website Developments

Benchmarking tool. There was no clear consensus as to whether the site should or should not offer a benchmarking tool but the risks and opportunities were discussed. There was concern that any such tool should receive the support of the whole committee (given that the committee has disbanded this is virtually impossible) or at least of the full Steering Group (challenging). Without strong international support use of the tool may be limited and there will be little value from a significant investment. However, the benefits of such a tool could be significant if there was sufficient engagement to endorse it and widespread use enables sectors and regions to benchmark their progress. There was also a suggestion that the Steering Group approves a document offering principles for good tools and then lists incoming tools from around the world.

To be further discussed at the next meeting.

Translations.  Shaun asked for feedback on the idea of translating items into other languages or possibly the whole website. He stated that we accept contributions in any language at present provided Carole Ann can take advice from somebody in the group speaking the language to validate the content.

The Steering Group decided that the main structure of the website should remain in English as there is no business case for full translation.

No other suggestions for further website development were made.

6. AOB

Staffan commented that conference calls using Pow Wow Now are costly for participants.

Action: Carole Ann to source a more cost-effective way of holding audio meetings that is free to participants

Date of the next meeting September 2017, dates to be circulated well in advance to encourage better participation

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