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How IAATO Works

IAATO Committees and Working Groups

In this section:

  • Introduction
  • General Terms of Reference for All IAATO Committees
  • IAATO Committees
    • Executive Committee
    • Membership
    • Marine
    • Bylaws
    • Finance
    • Field Operations
    • Climate Change
    • Deep Field & Air Operations
    • Compliance and Dispute
    • Yacht
    • Antarctic Gateway
  • Working Groups
    • Managing for Growth
    • Associate
    • Ship Scheduling
    • Emperor Penguin
    • Education & Outreach
    • Ross Sea
    • Helicopter
    • Submersibles
    • Delegations

IAATO Committees and Working Groups


Along with the Secretariat, the work of IAATO is carried out by standing committees and working groups. The structure of these committees and working groups is defined in Article VI (Sections A-C) and Article IV (Sections C and D) of the Bylaws.

While these Bylaws are obviously important, it is the Terms of Reference, or TOR, referenced in Article VI, Section D that provide much more detail about these important groups. In addition to the core duties described in each of the TOR, committees are expected to provide a report at the Annual Meeting on activities during the prior year. The chair of each committee usually handles this task, or asks another committee member to do so if he/she is unavailable.

A listing of committee members for the current year is posted on the IAATO Admin page Members-Only area. Other information regarding the election of committee members at the Annual Meeting can be found in the Annual Meetings, Elections & Voting section of this handbook.

IAATO Members in good standing are eligible to hold committee positions and other offices. It should be noted that there are also opportunities for those outside of the IAATO membership to provide guidance and advice to the organization, as described in Article IV, Section D of the Bylaws.

In the next section is a review of the general rules that govern all of the IAATO committees, followed by the TOR for the Executive Committee and the rest of the committees and working groups.

General TOR for All IAATO Committees

General TOR for All IAATO Committees

  1. “IAATO members” in these Terms of Reference refers to Operators (those who have fulfilled the requirements in Article III, Sections B and C, and Article X, as applicable); Provisional Operators; and Associates.
  2. Only Operators are eligible to serve on the Executive, Membership, Finance, and Compliance and Dispute Resolution committees. Membership in the Antarctic Gateway Committee is restricted to Operators, but Associates may be consulted. Other committees (Field Operations, Marine, Bylaws, and Yacht) welcome Operators, Provisional Operators and Associates as members.
  3. Each committee will have a chair, a chair and vice chair, or co-chairs who are Operators; voting in committees is limited to Operators.
  4. If a committee member ceases to be engaged by an Operator or Associate, or if the Operator or Associate for whom they work ceases to be an IAATO member, the committee member must vacate their seat.
  5. The actions of all committee members, including proxies, are to conform to IAATO antitrust policies.
  6. All committee members should be mindful of their leadership role in IAATO and take care in any public statements, either to the press or on social media, not to disparage another IAATO member.
  7. Committee members who disagree with the majority on a topic to be presented at the annual meeting for a vote, and who plan to speak independently of the Committee, must provide to the committee chair a written statement of their dissent, along with any relevant supporting documentation, before the Annual Meeting.
  8. CONFIDENTIALITY POLICY. The unauthorized disclosure of non-public information regarding IAATO or its members or collaborators that a person obtains as a result of serving on an IAATO committee or working group is strictly prohibited. The disclosure, distribution, electronic transmission or copying of IAATO’s or its members’ confidential material is likewise strictly prohibited.
  9. With the exception of the Executive Committee,chairs, vice chairs, co-chairsand othercommittee membersareelectedannually by the Membership.
  10. The terms of chairs, vice chairs and co-chairs are expected not to exceed three years.
  11. IAATO committees play pivotal roles in the health and effectiveness of the organization. IAATO cannot fulfill its mandate of advocating and promoting the practice of safe and environmentally responsible travel to the Antarctic without active, engaged committees. Therefore,
    1. Each committee is expected to meet at least three times per year, in person or electronically;
    2. For committees other than the EC, committee chairs, vice chairs or co-chairs are responsible for submitting a report of their committee’s work progress to the EC no later than two weeks in advance of the Annual Meeting and of the EC’s October and February meetings, and reporting on committee progress to members at the Annual Meeting;
    3. Members of all committees are expected to participate, to be active and responsive to committee inquiries, and to contribute to the work of the committee during the year. If committee members are not able to be active during the year, unless caused by unforeseen circumstances, they should step down voluntarily or may be asked to step down and allow others to participate.
  12. The following Terms of Reference for individual committees are intended to be dynamic and to change with time as IAATO continues to develop and diversify.

The agreed TOR for all IAATO committees and delegates can be found and downloaded from the IAATO Admin page.

Working Groups

Working Groups

IAATO Working Groups are typically established on a temporary basis to investigate and resolve specific issues. These issues can be defined and approved by either the Executive Committee or, at the Annual Meeting, the Members in good standing.

When the assigned tasks are completed, Working Groups will be dissolved. Terms of Reference for Working Groups tend to be task-specific rather than descriptive of the group’s goals and make-up.

Climate Change
The CCWG coordinates IAATO’s efforts to survey its operators regarding carbon footprint and other related information, and to consult with Secretariat Operations in providing advice to operators on ways to mitigate carbon output and energy use, particularly aboard ships.

Managing for Growth
This group looks ahead, brainstorming for possible issues and side-effects that might potentially develop along with overall tourism growth, or specific tourism activities that appear to be in ascendance.

Deep Field & Air Operations
As the name suggests, the land issues group advises the Secretariat and other committees and delegations as appropriate on the unique aspects of Antarctica land tourism. Since the majority of IAATO Members manage vessel-based operations, it is extremely valuable to have the input of our land tourism experts in reviewing policy decisions that can affect all Members.

ATCM Delegates
This group represents IAATO at the annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings, and is comprised of the Secretariat and select members. More information and the Terms of Reference for this group can be found here.

Education & Outreach
This group was formed at IAATO 26 in Rotterdam in 2015 to support the Secretariat in delivering commemorative events and materials for IAATO’s 25th Anniversary in 2016 and in delivering elements of the Communications Strategy Action Plan, in particular developing the Antarctic Ambassador Concept. The group will also advise on the format and educational content of the Field Operations Manual.

Ross Sea
This group was formed at IAATO 2016 in Newport, RI.  The group works with IAATO Members and Ross Sea Stakeholders to strengthen guidance and safety for the Ross Sea Region.

This group was formed at IAATO 2017 in Edinburgh, Scotland to enable IAATO Associate members to discuss issues concerning this membership category

Ship Scheduling
This group was formed at IAATO 2018 in Newport, Rhode Island to compliment the work on tourism growth and explore ship scheduling solutions.

Emperor Penguin
The group works with IAATO Members and Antarctic stakeholders, including the research community, to review and strengthen guidance on activities in the vicinity of emperor penguins.

This group was formed at IAATO 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa to compliment the work on tourism growth, create guidelines for and coordinate helicopter activities within IAATO while providing COMNAP with important safety information.