The EcoPort Foundation
Strategy
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Recent Institutional Framework

The EcoPort service was established on 1 January 2000 as an inter-agency programme under the auspices of a consortium of Founders led by the University of Florida (UF) in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) and the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) of the Smithsonian Institution (SI).

In this form, the EcoPort Programme was governed only by the organizations (UF, FAO and NMNH/SI) within which the work was an element of their corporate work programmes. However, the essence of EcoPort is the fact that its content is created and maintained by a network of knowledge workers and institutions who use it as a communal database. They not only determine what EcoPort is, but also critically rely on its continuity. These expectations are at risk unless the initiative exists as an independant institution and programme wherein these 'driving' knowledge workers have direct, governing control of the programme and service.

First Strategic Goal

In consideration of the above, the Founder Members of the consortium agreed that EcoPort should become an independent legal entity able to determine and govern its own fate — a membership-driven enterprise as described in the section "Structure", and the EcoPort programme became an independent, 501(c)(3), nonprofit corporation on 27 May, 2003. Its goal is to establish a framework to place members in direct control of their system as explained in the section "Purpose".

Incorporation

Chapter 617.012 of the Statutes of the State of Florida make provision for a natural person or legal entity, to incorporate an enterprise of the kind described above. A single incorporator is sufficient to bring a corporation into existence. The Florida Statutes make provisions for the incorporator, subsequent to the formal process of having its Articles of Incorporation approved under the Great Seal of the State of Florida, to develop a suitable constitution for the corporation; here the EcoPort Foundation Inc. Thus, the strategic objective was to bring the Foundation into existence as an independent, legal entity — a goal that has now been achieved.

Post-incorporation Transition

Between incorporation and establishment of the various offices, procedures, governing structures and operational elements to manage the work of the Foundation, there is, of necessity, a period during which the way the Foundation will work has to be invented. This is the current strategic objective and goal of this presentation of a draft constitution of the EcoPort Foundation.

Until the first Governing Board is elected, an Interim Board, as described in the Foundation's founding bylaws — see section 'Bylaws', will oversee and facilitate the transition described above.

Caveat

Any management structure or process of establishing and running an enterprise, requires financial resources. Thus, the Interim Board will be constrained in its efforts to bring about the appointment of the Foundation's first Board. Therefore, a crucial strategic goal would be to raise funds to launch the Foundation.

Long-term Financial Goal

Given the Foundation's goal of proving a service to manage knowledge as a global public good in perpetuity, financial sustainability will be sought by establishing an endowment fund that will be managed and utilised in the conventional manner, under the supervision of the Foundation's Governing Board.

Networking and Partnerships

Strategic Alliances will be forged with any organisation, community or individual willing to work for consilience in the manner enabled and empowered by the EcoPort consilience engine. A strategic goal is to establish national EcoPort enterprises as nonprofit entities working in alliance with the Foundation under franchising arrangements and cooperation agreements described in other sections of this presentation.

Building Content

A core goal is to build an open-source system and service, an aim that will be fulfilled by making a policy and strategic commitment to using non-proprietary software and by being constitutionally obliged to implement a copyleft approach. As usual, the role of individual knowledge workers who volunteer their resources and expertise, will be nurtured and respected as the critical owners and drivers of the free public services offered by EcoPort.