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Chair's Blog: ICANN66 Meeting & Board Workshop

22 November 2019

With ICANN66 now behind us, I want to thank you for your participation, whether you attended in-person or joined us remotely. Our time in Montréal was very productive, and I continue to be impressed by the dedication and passion of both the ICANN community and the ICANN organization (org).

I want to take a moment to summarize some of the most important items from the Board workshop, provide a bit of insight into the Annual General Meeting (AGM), and summarize the key resolutions that the ICANN Board passed on the final day of the AGM.

Changes to the ICANN Board

While in Montréal, we welcomed two new Board directors, Mandla Msimang and Ihab Osman, who were seated during our public Board meeting. I look forward to the insight and experience they will each bring. We also bade farewell to our departing directors, Cherine Chalaby and Khaled Koubaa. I want to thank them both for their many years of service, and the Board wishes them well in their future endeavors. With these changes, the new Board team has started its journey.

Board Workshop

Ahead of ICANN66, the Board held a workshop in preparation for the AGM. The first two days were set aside to provide training and onboarding activities for incoming Board members, which were led by Becky Burr. The goal of the onboarding program is to provide new members with the information they need to better understand their duties, hit the ground running, and meaningfully engage with the community.

Friday 1 November was dedicated to Board organizational discussions and finalizing the Board’s slate for the year to come. During the afternoon, several Board Committees met to progress their work: The Board Governance Committee (BGC), under leadership of Becky Burr, to complete the Board slate; followed by the Board Risk Committee under leadership of Lito Ibarra and Matthew Shears. Specific focus was 1) risk identification management, 2) the risk register, and 3) Board Risk Committee scope, oversight and workplan, and disaster recovery.

ICANN President and CEO Göran Marby, Board Chair Cherine Chalaby, and I, in my function as Vice Chair, attended a roundtable with the chairs of ICANN’s Supporting Organizations (SOs) and Advisory Committees (ACs) to discuss the issues that lay before us. In the evening, we joined a reception with community leaders and ICANN org executives, which is always a great way to start an intense week together.

On Saturday 2 November, a large part of the day was dedicated to Constituency Day preparation sessions. This included an update on the progress made toward developing a workplan to implement the three critical plans that will shape ICANN’s future: The Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2021-2025 (FY21-25), the FY21-25 Operating and Financial Plan, and the Work Plan to improve the effectiveness of ICANN’s multistakeholder model. Brian Cute provided an update on the latter. The session also included an ICANN org review of the status of all the SOs and ACs, including the work being done on policy development.

Afterward, Becky hosted a public session where Donna Austin, Chair of the Registry Stakeholder Group, and Graeme Bunton, Chair of the Registrar Stakeholder Group, educated us on the role that registries and registrars play in the ICANN community and the Domain Name System (DNS) marketplace. Educational sessions like these ensure that the Board has a comprehensive understanding of the impacts its decisions will have on the Internet ecosystem. We also discussed the value of making such material available to the full community to increase the understanding of what drives specific parts of the community. The last slot of the day was used to provide an update on the status of the ongoing efforts related to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to the full Board.

On Sunday 3 November, the Board attended the Community Action Approval Forum, where the Empowered Community approved a fundamental bylaws amendment regarding the composition of the IANA Naming Functions Review Team. We also held a public Board meeting – the resolutions that came out of that meeting are available here. Under Sarah Deutsch’s leadership, we closed the morning with a review of the FY19 Audited Financial Statement, which was once again marked unqualified, or “clean,” by the auditors.

During lunch, we joined the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) for our first community interaction session, which was both lively and constructive. After that, Becky Burr and Avri Doria led a session that focused on the prioritization, affordability, and streamlining of ICANN Reviews. It’s become clear over the course of the last year that we need to rethink how we do this. It is in nobody’s interest for reviews to become a major burden. It’s also important to find a way forward in which review recommendations can be prioritized by the community for implementation in an effective and sustainable way.

Following this, Göran and his team then updated the Board on the status of the .COM contract agreement, and Avri moderated a session aimed at furthering our thinking about important frame conditions for the next round of top-level domains (TLDs), while we await the community’s policy decisions. We finished the day with further preparations for the Board’s decision on the implementation of the Cross-Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability) Workstream 2 (WS2) recommendations, and finalized the work on the Board slate.

Annual General Meeting

Our time in Montréal was, again, very productive – it’s hard to believe it all happened over the course of just a few days! More than 1,750 attendees convened at the Palais des congrès de Montreal to participate in some of the liveliest sessions we’ve ever seen at an ICANN meeting. Montréal also marked the third At-Large Summit (ATLAS III) – a meeting that brings together key At-Large participants once every five years. Progress was made through a number of key discussions, such as enhancing the effectiveness of ICANN Review recommendations, the implementation of the Public Interest Framework, progressing the ICANN multistakeholder model, and dealing with abuse in the DNS.

This meeting provided an opportunity to recognize the hard work of ICANN’s many community members. On Monday, during the Opening Ceremony, outgoing Board Chair Cherine Chalaby was presented with the ICANN Leadership Award by Göran Marby. I can think of no one more fitting to receive the honor. Over the course of his nine years on the ICANN Board, Cherine has embodied the spirit of what it means to be a leader. We also had the opportunity to recognize the hard work of our community’s leaders during a ceremony held during the second Public Forum.

At the same time, ICANN66 was, for many of us, an opportunity to remember and honor the legacy of our dear colleague Tarek Kamel during a special tribute session. Tarek was many things – a mentor, a friend, a pioneer, and a devoted father and husband. I want to thank you all for coming together to remember and celebrate his life. He will be dearly missed by all of us, but his legacy will live on within our community and our hearts. We also remembered Don Blumenthal, whom I came to appreciate dearly over the years. Don worked tirelessly to make the Internet a better place, with a focus on abuse, and as a dedicated member of the Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC). In his memory, the “tech dinner” to which key technical people from the community are invited, will be known as the “Don Blumenthal dinner” going forward.

Board Meeting

On the final day of the AGM, the Board held two meetings: a regular meeting and an organizational meeting. A number of important resolutions were passed, which can be read in full here. Of those resolutions, there are a number that I’d like to highlight:

Regular Meeting

  • Directed the CEO to engage in and facilitate all necessary contracting and disbursements for the host venue and hotels for the March 2022 ICANN Public Meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • Resolved to defer compliance enforcement of the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy until the generic top-level domain (gTLD) Registration Data Policy Implementation Review Team (IRT) completes its review and establishes an implementation timeline estimate of the Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) Team’s recommendations; the ICANN org and the IRT provide the GNSO Council with the required information regarding the impact of the EPDP Team’s recommendations; and the GNSO Council makes a determination on whether to take action on updates to the relevant policies and procedures impacting the Thick WHOIS Transition Policy.
  • Approved additional funding for the Second Security, Stability, and Resiliency Review (SSR2).
    • The Board is fully committed to ensuring that all Bylaws-mandated reviews, including SSR2, are carried out appropriately and completely.
  • Resolved to direct the Nominating Committee (NomCom) Review Implementation Working Group to commence implementation, in accordance with the NomCom Review Detailed Implementation Plan, and to provide the Board’s Organizational Effectiveness Committee (OEC) with written updates every six months.
    • The Board thanks the members of the group for their efforts, and wishes them the best of luck in their work.
  • Per Section 27 of the Bylaws, the Board is required to consider the consensus-based recommendations from the CCWG-Accountability WS2. On 9 November 2018, WS2 submitted their Final Report to the Board, following approval from the Chartering Organizations. The Board resolved to adopt each of the consensus recommendations, and directs the ICANN President and CEO to begin implementation, provide implementation status reports to the Board, and notify the relevant community groups of their adoption.
    • The Board thanks the members of the CCWG-WS2 for their dedication and hard work, which took place over two years, in developing the Final Report and consensus recommendations.
  • Directed the ICANN President and CEO to publish the final charter, operating procedures, and work plan for the Root Server System (RSS) Governance Working Group (GWG).
    • The Board thanks the Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC) for their work on RSSAC037 and RSSAC038, as well as their help in developing the ‘Concept Paper on a Community Driven process to Develop a Final Model Based on RSSAC037’ and the GWG draft charter.

This is just a sampling of the many resolutions that the ICANN Board passed during its time in Montréal. We also ratified the Address Supporting Organization Memorandum of Understanding, and concluded several other matters of importance. Again, I encourage you to read the full set.

Organizational Meeting

During the Board’s organizational meeting, we adopted the full Board slate, which included the formal appointment of Chair (me) and Vice Chair (León Sánchez). We also resolved to re-elect Lise Fuhr to serve in Seat 1 of the Public Technical Identifiers (PTI) Board, and elected Jia-Rong Low to serve in Seat 3 of the PTI Board. Their terms will end at the annual meeting of the members in 2022.

The Board is now on to its work for FY20. I highly encourage you to read previous Board Chair Cherine Chalaby’s blog on the Board’s FY20 activities and operational priorities. It provides a great overview of what the Board will focus on during the fiscal year.

Again, I want to thank everyone for their participation during ICANN66 – your dedication to the multistakeholder model is what allows this all to work. We are committed to progressing our work, together, and I look forward to seeing you all at ICANN67 in Cancún, Mexico, in March 2020, if not sooner.


Maarten Botterman

Maarten Botterman

ICANN Board Member