APECS started in 2006 as an initiative of the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008, and has been identified by the major IPY sponsors, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Council for Science (ICSU), as one of the most important legacies from the IPY efforts. Today APECS has over 3,800 members from over 76 countries and represents the remarkable diversity that is shaping the future of polar research: Our members are drawn from the complete spectrum of polar, alpine and cryosphere research disciplines.APECS recognizes the importance of fostering the next generation of researchers who will be faced with responding to the increasingly critical challenges in the Polar regions resulting from the impacts of climate change. APECS stimulates interdisciplinary and international research collaborations and develops effective future leaders in polar research, education and outreach. We achieve these goals by:
- Facilitating international and interdisciplinary networking to share ideas and experiences and to develop new research directions and collaborations;
- Providing opportunities for professional career development; and
- Promoting education and outreach as an integral component of polar research and to stimulate future generations of polar researchers.
APECS has proven successful in building extensive international, national and interdisciplinary networks to develop integrated research directions, meet career development needs, and communicate the urgencies of polar science to a worldwide audience. Further, the efforts of APECS to place early career scientists into leadership roles on steering committees, as conference organizers and as session conveners has served to highlight the importance of including early career researchers in the business and organization of science in general. Initiatives that were spearheaded by APECS (such as FrostBytes and Polar Weeks) have been adopted by other organizations such as the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) Project and Polar Educators International (PEI).
The leadership of APECS comprises a self-nominated Council, an elected 5-person Executive Committee, and the International Directorate with the Executive Director. All are supported by the Advisory Committee. Between 2009 and 2016 the APECS International Directorate has been hosted in Tromsø, Norway, supported by the Research Council of Norway, the Norwegian Polar Institute and the UiT The Arctic University of Norway. Between 2017 and 2021 the APECS International Directorate has been hosted by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research at the research unit in Potsdam, Germany. Several EU projects have been developed from cooperation with the host institutions. For the Alfred Wegener Institute this means that an EU-funded APECS Project Office will stay in Potsdam/Germany beyond January 2022, while the Directorate will move to another institution.
With the current hosting agreement with the Alfred Wegener Institute coming to an end the APECS Executive Committee is seeking the support of one or more institutions interested in hosting the APECS International Directorate office starting from January 2022 for the next 3-5+ years.
APECS has benefited greatly from having an International Directorate Office with a full-time Executive Director and half-time Administrative Assistant over the past years. The position has allowed a dedicated effort to be made in establishing relationships with partner organizations, and has provided continuity to the organization. The director position has also allowed for the smooth transition between annually elected executive committees, enabling APECS to operate efficiently and continue to move forward with projects while maximizing the training and involvement of early career researchers.
The APECS Directorate is tasked with guiding the development and administration of the organization, along with overseeing, mentoring and managing all APECS activities and events, as well as working and liaising with members and international partners worldwide. Specific duties include: Working with and mentoring APECS members and the various APECS committees, initiating and supporting APECS activities and events, liaising with APECS partners and sponsors, writing funding proposals, providing day-to-day administrative support to the organisation, managing budgets and finances, maintenance of the website and its development, managing and archiving of documents and others. Stable directorate funding is crucial for APECS to continue to thrive.
The International Directorate Office also is making strong synergies with its host institutions and other local and regional organisations at its host location. It will be of strong importance to APECS to develop and make valuable contributions to its new host location by bringing opportunities, introducing skilled professionals to the area, and contributing to the overall success of science and research events at the host location.
At the closing ceremony of the IPY 2007-2008 (during the IPY Oslo Conference in 2010) APECS received the IPY flag on behalf of ICSU / WMO and the IPY joint committee to “carry on the momentum of the IPY and polar research”. At the IPY 2012 Montreal Conference, APECS, together with Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), received the IPY torch, indicating that these three organizations are now assuming responsibility for securing the IPY legacies. APECS and its members have already been involved in recent international processes that are determining the most important research questions and roadmaps for polar research in the coming decades and APECS will continue to shape the future of polar research in the years to come. Many other partners are seeking APECS input and participation in international projects and proposals on a constantly growing basis and seeking its expertise in the training of early career researchers as well as education and outreach. An International Directorate and also its expansion to more than one full-time staff member is crucial for continuing to drive this development and the growing number of organisational projects as well as commitments and collaborations with partners in the future.
In January 2021, APECS published its Strategic Plan 2021 - 2025 addressing both the challenges, as identified by the APECS Organizational Review, and opportunities for APECS through six main Strategic Goals:
- Goal 1 - Expansion and Support for Membership: Actively support and recruit into leadership positions members from traditionally underrepresented regions and countries as well as underrepresented and marginalized groups (including members of the LGBTQ+ community, indigenous researchers, and members with disabilities), target institutions with polar interests to reach a more diverse and inclusive membership base, and develop spaces to better serve the needs of the membership.
- Goal 2 - Improving Communication: Improve transparency and effectiveness of internal communication and maintain excellence of external communication connecting Council, Executive Committee, National Committees and the other members.
- Goal 3 - Strengthening National Committees & Global Connections: Guide and assist National Committees in establishing an internal structure, communication pathways, and forming partnerships with other National Committees and relevant organisations.
- Goal 4 - Establish a Structure to Grow Sustainably & Improve Internal Functions: Restructure the Council and APECS Leadership to increase representation, improve management structures, and raise APECS’ capacity to support its ECR membership through its activities.
- Goal 5 - Advancing Connections through Virtual and In-person Events: Continue to support and provide venues for in-person events, while increasing the development of virtual events in various languages, formats, and regions across all levels of APECS.
- Goal 6 - Maintaining & Building Partnerships: Maintain and increase fruitful relationships with partner organisations promoting opportunities for early career researchers.
This new Strategic Plan provides a framework for APECS to continue developing as the ambitious and dynamic organization it is and which we hope will continue to provide valuable services to the wider Polar Community. The new host institution of APECS will therefore play an invaluable role in providing the framework and designing the future of APECS.