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Business Engagement at ICANN59: Helpful Advice for Business Newcomers

23 June 2017

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The ICANN59 Policy Forum in Johannesburg meeting is just a few days away, and will give local business stakeholders a chance to discuss the future of ICANN and how they can get involved in shaping ongoing policy discussions related the Internet's system of unique identifiers.

Presented below is some helpful information for those planning on attending, as well as advice from a business newcomer at the last ICANN meeting, ICANN58 in Copenhagen.

A number of resources are available to help new attendees learn from ICANN staff and fellow newcomers, and know where business stakeholders will be gathering at ICANN59.

Policy Resources – Explaining the Policy Discussions Underway

The ICANN Policy Development Support Team has put together a variety of resources to get prepared for the meeting:

All these resources can also be found at icann.org/policy.

Meeting Logistics – Navigating the Venue and Agenda

You can find all the relevant information about the meeting at meetings.icann.org. We also highly recommend downloading the ICANN59 Mobile App, which will help you schedule and plan out your days in Johannesburg.

During the Policy Forum, some of the private sector stakeholders groups and constituencies are having outreach events and meetings that I encourage you to attend.

Outreach Events – Helping Business Newcomers Learn More

Open Sessions – Seeing Business Stakeholders in Action

Newcomers' Perspectives – Advice from a Fellow Newcomer

If you are newcomer to ICANN meetings, it is always useful to hear the perspective from fellow participants on their experience and what they get out of these meetings. To this end, we interviewed Sebastian Schwemer, who was a newcomer to ICANN58 in Copenhagen, to hear his reactions.


Sebastian is an industrial researcher at the Centre for Information and Innovation Law (University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Law) and the Danish Internet Forum (DIFO) – one of the ICANN58 sponsors.

Sebastian is primarily interested in studying policy-related questions on technology, such as copyright law and the Internet. He is also one of the initiators of the #CPHFTW grassroots movement and Techfestival.

While in Copenhagen, Sebastian shared his opinions as a newcomer to ICANN meetings and why he thinks the start-up community should be involved in the policy work being conducted at ICANN.

Sebastian, this was your first ICANN meeting. How did you first get involved in ICANN's work?

I have been working with the different aspects of the Internet for a long time and have been following the work of ICANN, but only from the sidelines. Recently, I started an Internet governance research project for the Danish Internet Forum (DIFO), which is why want to get involved more actively in ICANN. What a lucky coincidence that we hosted ICANN58 in Copenhagen this year!

As a newcomer, what were your impressions of the meeting. What was surprising? What was challenging?

I am still dazzled about the size and professionalism of the meeting. I was really surprised to see how open and flat ICANN operates – the open microphone session with the board was a great example of that. Also, as a newcomer I was received really warmly and had great conversations during the meeting. The sheer amount of interesting sessions was challenging though. It took me a day or two to cut through the abbreviations and tailor my own schedule. Again, many peers have been very helpful here. There were also one or two closed sessions that I would have been really interested in being part of.

You wear two "hats" - one as a member of the academic community and another as an evangelist of the local start-up community. How do you think that informs your participation?

That is right. I currently lead an industrial research project at DIFO and the Centre for Information and Innovation Law at the University of Copenhagen. But I also have a background in the tech industry and am one of the people behind the community organisation CPHFTW, which consists of more than 150 Danish startups, and Techfestival. For me, those two "hats" really go hand in hand, though: in my research I can relate to what is happening in the "real" world. And when working with technology startups, I try to keep the broader Internet policy-aspects high on the agenda.

Do you think start-ups have a place in ICANN? Why should they follow the work of ICANN?

Absolutely. High-growth Internet companies have many burning issues they need to focus on. At the same time, Internet governance structures form the basis for their operations. It seems that startups in the United States embraced being part of these debates much earlier on. In Europe, I've been observing an increasing awareness of Internet policy issues among startups, which is a promising sign.

What issues will you be following after ICANN58?

I am very interested in the ccNSOs members' work on how they can minimise misuse of domain names. I will also keep an eye on the policy developments around intellectual property and the further advancement of ICANNs accountability. Finally, I have a couple of follow-ups scheduled with other individuals and organisations.

For more questions about ICANN59, the role of business at ICANN, or any aspect of business engagement please contact businessengagement@icann.org


Christopher Mondini

Christopher Mondini

VP, Stakeholder Engagement & Managing Director - Europe