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Chair’s Blog: Highlights from the January ICANN Board Workshop

1 February 2022

The ICANN Board held its first Board Workshop of 2022 from 13-16 January. As I mentioned in my last blog, 2022 marks a year when the Board, Community, and ICANN Organization (org) move from preparation phases to advancing several key projects in support of ICANN's mission. This upcoming work was a central focus of the workshop, and it provided my Board colleagues and I with an opportunity to prioritize and plan for the year ahead.

With the recent launch of the new gTLD Subsequent Procedures (SubPro) Operational Design Phase (ODP) and the Prioritization Framework Pilot planned for March, pending finalization of community participation, the year has started well. The launch of the ODP is an important step in our consideration of and preparation for a next round of new gTLDs, and I encourage the Community to follow and engage with the ODP team as this work progresses here. The piloting of the Prioritization Framework is an important step forward from preparation to execution, and we are eager to hear more about the experiences over the coming months. Furthermore, conclusions drawn from the ODP for the System for Standardized Access/Disclosure (SSAD) were presented by the org this month. We look forward to continuing informal consultation with the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), following a first joint, and public call on 27 January to determine together how to progress best on next steps to consider the GNSO's policy recommendations.

At the January workshop, the Board reviewed this work and made progress on several important areas, which I would like to share with you:

Thursday 13 January 2022

The workshop kicked off on Thursday with our first strategic session focused on the work plans of the Board Committees and Caucuses. Board Committee Chairs presented the key issues that will require the Board's attention in the short term, and we reviewed the preparatory work done by Board Caucuses and Working Groups. This session gave us an opportunity to receive an update on each of the Board Operational Priorities and review upcoming work.

This laid the foundation for the following session led by Matthew Shears where we examined this work against the Strategic Plan. The objective of the session was to align on the overall 2022 Board work plan activities and decide whether any activities should move up or down on the current list of identified priorities. We used the online brainstorming facilities to discuss plan progress and prioritization to prepare for a full Board prioritization session the next day. Additional sessions will be needed to finalize an agreed-upon prioritized list.

Friday 14 January 2022

On Friday, Becky Burr led the Board's review of the ICANN72 Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) Communiqué and discussion about potential responses to the GAC's Consensus Advice on topics such as the Board's action on the report of the second Security, Stability, and Resiliency Review Team (SSR2) and domain name registration data issues.

Following a short break, the Board met to review the planning and progress for the SubPro ODP led by Avri Doria. The day ended with a third strategic session for Board Members to review prioritization of our Work Plan, again led by Matthew Shears. Overall, the strategic prioritization exercise provided an excellent overview of all the items the Board is overseeing and was a good step toward better managing our priorities together.

Saturday 15 January 2022

Saturday's workshop opened with Avri Doria shepherding the Board's consideration of the 35 recommendations from the GNSO Policy Development Process (PDP) Phase 1 Review of All RPMs in All gTLDs. As part of its review of the GNSO's recommendations, the Board also discussed implementation considerations, based on information provided by ICANN org. This discussion helped prepare the Board for its adoption of these PDP recommendations during its Sunday Board Meeting during the workshop.

Led by Danko Jevtović, the Board then received updates on the SSR2 recommendations and preparations by the Org to support the Board in taking action on those recommendations that are still pending. Shepherded by Avri Doria, the Board also received an update on the third Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT3) recommendations, including discussions on the next steps towards a Holistic Review pilot.

In addition, the Board received an update and presentation on the ICANN Draft FY23–27 Operating Financial Plan and Draft FY23 Operating Plan & Budget during a session led by Danko Jevtović. The draft plans were published for public comment in December 2021. The closing date for input is 7 February 2022. The Board encourages the Community to participate here in this important multistakeholder consultation.

Sunday 16 January 2022

Our fourth and final day began with an update on the progress of the SSAD ODP, including recent Community discussions and preparations for the 18 January 2022 Community webinar. For more on the progress of this ODP and to watch the webinar, visit here.

To conclude the workshop, the Board held our first Board Meeting of 2022. You can read the official record of the available resolutions here. In addition to the decisions regarding the GAC's Advice from the ICANN72 Communiqué and on the GNSO's RPM PDP Recommendations, I mentioned previously, I note the Board also took action on one of our key accountability mechanisms, the Independent Review Process (IRP). Within the timing required by the ICANN Bylaws, the Board acknowledged the IRP Panel's declaration issued in the IRP regarding the .WEB gTLD and directed the Board Accountability Mechanisms Committee to lead the Board's efforts in further evaluation of the declaration.

As with all workshops, we held a feedback session focused on reflecting on which sessions and approaches were most productive during this workshop. We also discussed areas where we can continue to improve. I am grateful to my Board colleagues for the productive and collaborative time together and appreciate their dedication to making our meetings – whether virtual or in person – as productive as possible.

Looking forward, the Board will continue to advance work ahead of the ICANN73 Public Meeting. We had hoped to pilot our blended virtual and in-person meeting approach under pandemic circumstances for our Board workshop prior to ICANN73; however, this will not be possible. Along with my Board colleagues, I recognize the increasing desire and need for face-to-face interactions. We look forward to meeting in person as soon as we can. In the interim, we are committed to continuing with high levels of virtual engagement. We thank the Community and Org for continuing to work remotely with us to support ICANN's mission and we look forward to a productive 2022 together.


Maarten Botterman

Maarten Botterman

ICANN Board Member