ESC Governance

The ESC is structured to be both legally compliant and responsive to community needs

The ESC is registered in the United States as a limited liability corporation pending approval of its 501(c)3 (not for profit) status by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is the process by which not for profit organizations are registered in the United States. For its first year, the ESC was registered under a social enterprise charter (low profit limited liability corporation), which allowed the ESC to receive donations from our fiscal sponsors, MAPS and ICEERS, while working under their oversight of the ESC budget and expenditures. IRS approval is expected within 3-12 months.

The ESC organization

The organization (secretariat) has these teams: research & engagement; communications & development; education; and administration. Meet the team.

The ESC Board of Directors

The board has strategic and fiduciary responsibility for the organization. It is comprised of Joshua Wickerham (ESC Executive Director), Jonathan Thompson (ESC Operations Director), Rick Doblin (MAPS Executive Director), and Jag Davies (Drug Policy Alliance, Director, Communications Strategy). It is expected that the board will be expanded to include other stakeholders and donors.

The Stakeholder Representative Council

The Stakeholder Representative Council is one key to the ESC’s commitment of accountability to the plant communities it serves. The Stakeholder Representative Council is being formed from key stakeholders involved in medicinal plants, ayahuasca, peyote, and iboga traditions.

Roles and Rights of the Stakeholder Council as defined in the ESC’s bylaws include:

  1. Protecting the reputation of the ESC by ensuring that the ESC is working according to its stated principles and stakeholder groups. If the Stakeholder Council feels that the ESC Board, its directors, or consultants are not acting in accord with community interests or the ESC’s principles, it can compel the Board to respond to those concerns, including possibly initiating third party evaluations, the results of which will be issued to any interested party upon request.
  2. Approving final drafts of any Plant Agreements: The Stakeholder Council has the power to veto or approve the Ayahuasca Agreement or any Plant Agreement after consultations (“Plant Dialogues”) based on the ISEAL Standard Setting Code and compel the ESC to continue stakeholder engagement until acceptable consensus can be reached. The Council also has the power to request revisions of existing Plant Agreements at least every 5 years based on ISEAL Codes, or sooner if important concerns arise about the implementation, consequences, or content of these Plant Agreements;
  3. Understanding grave sustainability or safety issues affecting formal ESC community members who are recognized (“assured”) as implementing plant agreements, such as centers, communities, or cultivation sites. The Stakeholder Council shall have the power to issue public statements about why the issues arose and make suggestions to the ESC Board and other ESC assured places about how to prevent such occurrences in the future.

The Stakeholder Council is one key way for the community to govern the ESC and Plant Agreements.

Following is a proposed approach for forming the Stakeholder Council. It will be revised based on stakeholder feedback:

  • Nominations: Anyone can nominate members of the Stakeholder Council. These suggestions can be sent to nominations [at] ethnobotanicalcouncil [dot] org. Nominees will be contacted before information is released publicly;
  • Public consultation on nominees: Beginning in January 2015, the public nominee list will be updated monthly on the ESC website for public comment;
  • Nominee profile: Any person considered to have a role in shaping the future of the Ayahuasca Dialogues, or who could be affected by the ESC’s work, can be nominated;
  • Local bodies: Where possible, it is suggested that local Stakeholder Councils be formed, such as in Iquitos, where ayahuasca activity is especially important to the local culture and economy;
  • Decision-making (parliamentary) procedures will be defined by the Stakeholder Council itself;
  • Timeline: Nominations will be reviewed on an ongoing basis;
  • There is no limit on the number of Stakeholder Council members or nominees.

More information coming soon!

Contact us to share your opinion about the ESC’s governance structure.



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Due to sustained opposition from a small but significant portion of stakeholders, we have dissolved the Ethnobotanical Stewardship Council.

We are grateful for your support in increasing dialogue, learning with one another, and raising awareness about safer, more sustainable, and more reciprocal traditional plant use practices.

For a summary of our work, please see our 2014 financial report or our Dialogues Report.

If you are interested in learning more about ethnobotanicals, please visit ICEERS.