After having completed a productive Board Workshop in Brussels last month, I wanted to share an update on the ICANN Board's activities and our priorities ahead of ICANN77 in June.
During the workshop, which took place 27–30 April, the Board progressed our work in several key areas:
- CEO Search: The workshop included nine Listening Sessions with a broad base of ICANN Community members, stakeholders, and Internet ecosystem partners. The participants shared useful input on ICANN's future, and what attributes, skills, and experience will be most needed in our next leader. Several overarching themes are emerging, and the CEO Search Committee plans to use these contributions to create a candidate profile by ICANN77.
- Next Round of New Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs): The Board discussed the Generic Names Supporting Organization small team's efforts in response to the Board's considerations on the pending policy recommendations, and how the Board will work with the Community to close the topics. We also discussed the ICANN Organization's ongoing implementation and planning work. It was clear that the Board, Organization, and Community need to agree on targets for these milestones and work together to achieve them. The Board noted its commitment to this collaboration, including possible additional support mechanisms to help with progress toward the next round.
- ICANN Grant Program: The Board discussed the relationship between upholding ICANN's commitment to accountability while also preserving the maximum funds available for grant making, as opposed to defending against the use of ICANN's accountability mechanisms. The Board further discussed that its prior acceptance of a recommendation from the Cross-Community Working Group on New gTLD Auction Proceeds on the preservation of funds remained appropriate, and ways to explore implementing that recommendation that don't require a Fundamental Bylaws change.
- Planning: The Board participated in the yearly strategic outlook trend identification process, which is part of ICANN's planning process. Board members brainstormed about new and shifting trends and their impact on ICANN's Strategic Plan. Next, the ICANN Organization will prepare a trends analysis and impact assessment for the Board's Strategic Planning Committee.
- Pilot Holistic Review: The Board received an update on developments in the implementation of the Pilot Holistic Review to address Community concerns and divergent views on the purpose of this new review and how it would be operationalized. The Board also received an update on the Lifecycle of Reviews project and the initial improvements for discussion with the Community. The Board requested a risk assessment on Specific and Organizational Reviews, and an update on the implementation of the Third Accountability and Transparency Review recommendation to evolve Organizational Reviews into a Continuous Improvement Program.
- ICANN's Legitimacy: Researchers Hortense Jongen and Jan Aart Scholte presented the findings of their study on the relationship between structural inequalities and legitimacy beliefs in global governance. The study was based on a survey of ICANN Community, Board, and Organization staff members conducted in 2018. The results show, among other things, a need to promote greater awareness of ICANN among world governments.
During the Board Meeting on 30 April, the Board approved contract amendments that will improve the WHOIS system by updating the underlying technology with the more secure and capable Registration Data Access Protocol. We also adopted the ICANN FY24–28 Operating and Financial Plan and the FY24 Operating Plan and Budget.
My Board colleagues and I are looking forward to engaging with the Community and making more progress on these and other key matters at ICANN77 in June.