IPCC Procedures

The IPCC's work is guided by a set of principles and clear procedures for all the main activities of the organization.

The Principles Governing IPCC Work lay down the role, organization and procedures of the IPCC. They establish comprehensiveness, objectivity, openness and transparency as guiding principles of IPCC Work.

The Principles Governing IPCC Work set out the mandate and membership of the organization and describe how it works. In addition, three detailed Appendices define the process for preparing IPCC reports, managing its finances, and holding elections for the Bureaux. Appendix A: Procedures for the preparation, review, acceptance, adoption, approval and publication of IPCC Reports [English   | Arabic | Chinese | French | Russian | Spanish). This includes three annexes. Annex 1 outlines Tasks and Responsibilities for Lead Authors, Coordinating Lead Authors, Contributing Authors, Expert Reviewers and Review Editors of IPCC Reports and Government Focal Points. Annex 2 outlines Procedure on the Use of Literature in IPCC reports. Annex 3 details the Protocol for Addressing Possible Errors in IPCC Assessment Reports, Synthesis Reports, Special Reports and Methodology Reports Appendix B: Financial Procedures for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [ English | Arabic | Chinese | French | Russian |Spanish] including Explanatory notes to the Financial Procedures for the IPCC. Appendix C: Procedures for the Election of the IPCC Bureau and any Task Force Bureau [ English | Arabic | Chinese | FrenchRussian | Spanish]. IPCC’s processes and procedures are regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that they remain strong, transparent and reliable.

 Terms of  Reference

Procedures for IPCC reports

The writing and review of IPCC reports and other publications follows the “Procedures for the preparation, review, acceptance, adoption, approval and publication of IPCC Reports” contained in Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work. These procedures were initially adopted by the 15th Session of the IPCC in 1999 and have been regularly reviewed and revised since then. They provide detailed procedures for the preparation of the various types of IPCC material namely:

  • IPCC Reports: These include Assessments, Synthesis and Special Reports and their Summaries for Policymakers, and Methodology Reports.
  • Technical Papers: These are based on material already in IPCC reports, as defined above.
  • Supporting Materials: These consist of workshop proceedings and materials from expert meetings, which are either commissioned or supported by the IPCC; software or databases to facilitate the use of IPCC Methodology Reports; and guidance materials to guide and assist in the preparation of IPCC Reports and Technical Papers.

Simplified procedures for preparation, review, acceptance, adoption, approval and publication apply to Technical Papers, which are based on material that already exists in other IPCC reports. Technical Papers are initiated in response to a formal request from the UNFCCC or its subsidiary bodies and agreed by the Bureau, or decided by the Panel. The process for preparing IPCC reports from the beginning to the approval stage is outlined here For the period of the Fourth and Fifth Assessments, the Panel adopted a framework and set of criteria for establishing priorities for Special Reports, Methodology Reports and Technical Papers. The aim is to ensure efficient use of resources while addressing user needs. This framework is to be applied in accordance with the Principles Governing IPCC Work and is meant to guide, but not prescribe, future decisions by the Panel regarding its work programme. Decisions whether to initiate a new report will be considered on a case by case basis. The framework is reviewed after every assessment cycle and is, therefore, not part of Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work.

Strengthening the IPCC Writing and Review Process

On matters such as the use of literature in IPCC reports (see Annex 2 of Appendix A), the role of Review Editors (Annex 1 of Appendix A), and consideration of the range of scientific, technical and socio-economic views (Appendix A), changes have been made to already existing procedures regarding the writing and review of IPCC reports in response to an independent review of IPCC processes and procedures by the InterAcademy Council (IAC). Additional guidance was provided to AR5 authors on the consistent treatment of uncertainties and this remains valid for the Sixth Assessment Cycle. These efforts have further strengthened and clarified the IPCC’s strict procedures for the preparation and review of IPCC assessment reports.

Error Protocol

The IPCC decided in May 2011 to adopt an IPCC Protocol for Addressing Possible Errors in IPCC Assessment Reports, Synthesis Reports, Special Reports or Methodology Reports. Read the Protocol here. In case of a suspected error in an IPCC report, please send a mail to ipccerrorprotocol@wmo.int containing the following information:

  • Complete name
  • Telephone
  • Organization
  • Country
  • Publication
  • Chapter
  • Page
  • Line
  • Comments

Conflict of Interest Policy

Following recommendations from the InterAcademy Council (IAC), the IPCC adopted and implemented a Conflict of Interest (COI) Policy in 2011. This applies to all individuals directly involved in the preparation of IPCC reports, including senior IPCC leadership (IPCC Chair and Vice-Chairs), other Bureau and Task Force Bureau members, authors with responsibilities for report content, review editors and staff of the Technical Support Units. The overall purpose of the Conflict of Interest Policy is to protect the legitimacy, integrity, trust, and credibility of the IPCC and of those directly involved in the preparation of reports, and its activities. The staff of the IPCC Secretariat is subject to the disclosure and ethics policies of the WMO and UNEP. For the purposes of the IPCC Conflict of Interest Policy, individuals must disclose circumstances that could lead a reasonable person to question an individual’s objectivity, or whether an unfair advantage has been created, constitute a potential conflict of interest. The Conflict of Interest Policy is overseen by a COI Committee that comprises all elected members of the Executive Committee and two additional members with appropriate legal expertise appointed by the WMO and UNEP. The Panel approved the Methods of Work of the COI Committee during its 35th Session (Geneva, June 2012) and amended it at its 44th Session (Bangkok, October 2016). The amended form for Conflict of Interest declarations is available here. The approved IPCC Conflict of Interest Policy is available in all UN languages.  [ English | Arabic | Chinese | French Russian | Spanish].

Funding and financial procedures

The IPCC is funded by regular contributions from its parent organizations WMO and UNEP, and voluntary contributions from its member governments and the UNFCCC. Information about contributions received and expenditures incurred is provided by the Secretariat to the Pane,l and the annual budget is decided by the Panel at its Plenary Sessions. The WMO also hosts the IPCC Secretariat, and the WMO and UNEP each fund the costs of a senior staff member in the Secretariat. The IPCC Trust Fund is administered under the Financial Regulations of the WMO. The Trust Fund supports IPCC activities, in particular the participation of developing country experts in the IPCC, the organization of meetings as well as publication and translation of IPCC reports. Governments provide further substantial in-kind support for activities of the IPCC, in particular by hosting Technical Support Units, supporting the participation of experts from their respective countries in IPCC activities, and by hosting meetings. During the 34th Session of the IPCC in November 2011, the Panel revised the IPCC Financial Procedures to ensure consistency with International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). The Panel established the Ad-Hoc Task Group on Financial Stability (ATG-Finance) at its 45th Session in March 2017. ATG–Finance’s purpose is to propose to the Panel funding options and their implications in order to provide predictable, sustainable and adequate means for a smooth implementation of the IPCC’s work programme. Its mandate also includes identifying matters affecting IPCC’s financial stability. The Panel has extended its mandate twice, at the 46th and 47th Sessions. ATG-Finance will report on progress to the 48th Session of the IPCC in October 2018. For more information please see: “Financial Procedures for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)” [English | Arabic | Chinese | French | Russian | Spanish].

IPCC Communications Strategy

The IPCC Communications Strategy sets out the aims of IPCC communications, describes the main activities, defines the principle audiences – policymakers, other stakeholders, the media and the public, and provides guidance on how communications will be carried out. It defines the full range of IPCC communications with the main IPCC user groups as well as with media and the public, and provides direction on establishing and maintaining rapid, clear, and consistent communications. It was developed following recommendations from the InterAcademy Council in August 2010. The Panel adopted the Guidance on IPCC Communications Strategy at its 33rd Session in May 2011 and the IPCC Communications Strategy at its 35th Session in June 2012. Drawing on lessons learnt through the communication of the Fifth Assessment Report and the recommendations of the IPCC Expert Meeting on Communication in February 2016, the Panel revised the IPCC Communications Strategy at its 44th Session in October 2016. According to the strategy, the ultimate responsibility for communications activities lies with the Panel. The Bureau and Executive Committee act on the Panel’s behalf between IPCC Sessions. The Executive Committee is responsible for communications on a day-to-day basis. As a practical working arrangement, and to facilitate timely and efficient decision-making, the Executive Committee has established a fully representative subgroup, the Communications Action Team (CAT). The Head of Communications and Media Relations at the Secretariat and the Heads of Communications in the three Working Groups’ Technical Support Units take part in the CAT meetings. The IPCC Communications Strategy is available in all UN languages.  [English | Arabic | Chinese | French | Russian | Spanish].  

Policy and Process for Admitting Observer Organizations

Representatives of observer organizations may attend sessions of the IPCC and the plenary sessions of the IPCC Working Groups. They are also invited to encourage experts to review draft IPCC reports. These experts participate in the review process in their own name and not on behalf of the Observer Organization.

The policy and process for admitting Observer Organizations  is available here  [ English | Arabic| Chinese | French | Russian | Spanish ].

Guidelines for participation of admitted Observer Organizations are available here.

Gender Policy and Implementation Plan

The IPCC is dedicated to mainstreaming gender in its work in an inclusive and respectful manner, where there is balance in participation, and all have equal opportunity. The Panel adopted the Gender Policy and Implementation Plan (pp.11-15), which establishes goals and actions to lead the IPCC towards this vision.