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Advancing ICANN’s Multi-Stakeholder Model through Community Engagement

28 October 2013

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by David Olive, Vice President for Policy Development Support

The delegation of four new gTLDs marks a new era for the Internet. It is a historic moment for ICANN, too, as we continue to grow and adapt. Throughout our fifteen-year history, ICANN has embraced the multi-stakeholder model as a framework for the development of inclusive, global Internet governance policy.

ICANN recognizes the important role our community plays in the multi-stakeholder model. A changing Internet will require an evolving ICANN as well, which will impact how we engage with our community over time. Active and informed community participation is critical to the success of the multi-stakeholder model.

The community’s commitment to ICANN’s work is valuable and needs to be respected and supported by processes and resources that maximize those contributions. Over the past year, ICANN staff has worked with the Board to identify means and mechanisms to make the community’s contributions more efficient and effective.

Expanding Capacity

Our expanded community engagement work is building on the existing liaison relationships the Policy Development team has forged over the years with individual communities and is adding new staff capabilities to build new resources. Already, staff has begun to re-tool our efforts and commit more resources to:

  • Improve delivery of existing resources;
  • Expand communications channels;
  • Improve communications flow;
  • Create new in-kind resources; and
  • Streamline/innovate existing processes.

Moreover, while organization-wide efforts are still underway to develop a comprehensive ICANN outreach strategy, it is important to give individual communities some immediate flexible support to start or continue targeted outreach efforts that support specific community outreach or recruitment strategies. Some resources staff is currently developing include:

  • Public comment forum improvements–both process and usability innovations;
  • Development of new administrative support mechanisms on a pilot basis; and
  • Roll-out of an experimental community regional outreach pilot program

Reaching out to Our Community

In recognition of the potential that such a regional outreach program could contribute to the ICANN community’s continued growth and development, the recently approved FY14 Operating Plan and Budget allocates resources for outreach and capacity-building efforts in our community across regions. Staff has been directed to develop a Community Regional Outreach Pilot Program that will include robust implementation and rigorous evaluation.

The pilot program will be made available to the five Regional At-Large Organizations and non-contracted GNSO constituencies. Community leaders outlined several key benefits that could be achieved through a programmed approach to global outreach:

  • Building local/regional awareness and recruitment of new community members;\
  • Engaging more effectively with current members and/or “reactivating” previously engaged community members; and
  • Communicating ICANN’s mission and objectives to new audiences.

The program will be implemented collaboratively—involving community leaders and key staff members in the Policy Development, Global Stakeholder Engagement, Constituency Travel, and Finance teams—and transparently. Criteria, applications, and assessments will be available on a dedicated community Wiki workspace.

An Enduring Commitment

With ICANN 48 in Buenos Aires only weeks away, preparations are already underway to ensure that our community has the necessary resources and information. To learn more about community engagement at ICANN and other policy development issues, we encourage our community to participate in the Policy Update Webinar taking place on 7 November.

Two sessions—at 12:00 UTC and 19:00 UTC—will cover topics such as Privacy and Proxy Services Accreditation, Thick Whois, Protections of IGO/INGO Identifiers in gTLDs, a briefing on SSAC advisories, an update from the ASO Addressing Council, and much more. In order to participate, please RSVP via e-mail to the GNSO Secretariat (gnso.secretariat@gnso.icann.org) to receive the call details for your preferred session.

Community participation is at the core of policy development. ICANN is committed to providing our community with the tools and services to contribute. Through an enhanced engagement function, ICANN continues to advance the multi-stakeholder model.


David Olive

David Olive

SVP, Policy Development Support & Managing Director - Washington, D.C.