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Chair’s Blog: Preview of September Board Workshop

8 September 2021

As I prepare for our tenth virtual September Board workshop, I am consistently reminded of the commitment that so many in the ICANN Community, Organization (Org), and Board have to our important work. Our unique multistakeholder system requires the investment of time, knowledge, energy, and – as we have experienced over the pandemic – a great deal of flexibility. The innovative way that our Community has responded to the dramatic changes over the last 18 months has been inspiring, and the new tools ICANN Org has developed to support our virtual meetings are impressive.

The Board decided in July that the ICANN72 Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held virtually due to the continuing impacts of the pandemic, but we look forward to bringing back the face-to-face element into our meeting schedules as much as possible, as soon as possible. We need to find a way forward that effectively supports the bottom-up, multistakeholder model that is ingrained in our DNA, while keeping the health and safety of all those involved as our top priority. We are closely following the Org and Community efforts to develop an engagement model that combines both an in-person and a robust virtual component for meetings in 2022.

Newly appointed Board members will be formally seated at the AGM's conclusion. At this September workshop, we are very happy to welcome the future new Board members as guests: Alan Barrett, Edmon Chung, James Galvin, and Katrina Sataki.

In service of the Board's commitment to transparency and accountability, I am sharing the key topics planned for discussion at the September Board workshop. You can read the recap of the June workshop and Board activities at ICANN71 here to bring yourself up to date. Here are our priorities for our upcoming workshop:

Friday 10 September

The first part of our Board workshop will be a session led by Matthew Shears that is dedicated to refining and sharpening our strategy. With a variety of complex and interconnected issues before the Board, it is vital we stay focused on the Strategic Plan while staying nimble and responsive to change. In a rapidly changing world, a continuous reorientation on the world in which we fulfill our mission is required to ensure we can effectively respond to the today's challenges and be prepared for the challenges that may arise tomorrow.

Next, Avri Doria and Danko Jevtović will lead a discussion about an Operational Design Phase (ODP) to examine the community's policy and planning work around launching the next round of generic top-level domains (gTLDs). We have scoped the potential issues for the ODP to evaluate, but we have a few remaining points to clarify to make sure we have a full understanding of the interdependencies and budgetary impacts before making a final decision on the ODP.

Saturday 11 September

The first agenda item is a dialogue with ICANN President and CEO Göran Marby. We will then turn to the issues raised in the ICANN71 Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) Communiqué. Led by Becky Burr, we will examine the advice to the Board contained in the Communiqué and ensure we are responding effectively and in a timely manner to any concerns. We will also discuss if we can improve the way the Board receives and tracks advice from all of the Community groups.

Next, Göran, Merike Käo, and Akinori Maemura will present an update on the Domain Name System (DNS) Security Facilitation Initiative Technical Study Group (DSFI-TSG) and their ongoing work to develop a report that investigates mechanisms to strengthen collaboration and communication on DNS security and stability issues.

Sunday 12 September

On Sunday, we will finish up the drafting process for our fiscal year 2022 (FY22) operational priorities. The operational priorities help guide the Board's work and help us set additional goals to improve our own efficiency. You can watch a video of my conversation with León Sánchez about this process here. The Board is committed to continuous improvement, and the deliverables and timelines identified as part of this process help us make measurable progress.

Closely related to our priorities are the FY22 goals for our President and CEO. You can read more about Göran's FY21 goals here. The Board's operational priorities and the CEO's goals are intended to complement each other. The Board's role in helping develop the CEO goals is part of our important oversight responsibility and aligns with our efforts to prioritize the many issues facing the ICANN Community. We will discuss, determine our paths forward, and share both sets of FY22 priorities as soon as they are finalized.

Monday 13 September

As we do every year, the Board will have its organizational sessions to discuss leadership slating for the upcoming year and assisting the Board Governance Committee (BGC) in completing the slate if necessary, as per the practice and procedures outlined on the BGC site.

Facilitated by Becky Burr, we will receive a briefing from the Org teams working on Phase One of the Review of All Rights Protection Mechanisms in All gTLDs Policy Development Process. We do not anticipate needing an ODP before considering the Phase One Team recommendations, but like many issues before us, there are a considerable number of interdependent issues in this policy that will need to be weighed and coordinated.

I will share the highlights and main conclusions of our September workshop later this month. The ICANN Board looks forward to working with you to continue progress toward our collective goals in the most effective way possible – face-to-face when we can, virtually when we must. We will always work with full respect for the different but complementary roles of the Community, Organization, and Board. Together, we help ensure a stable, secure, and resilient Internet that serves the world.


Maarten Botterman

Maarten Botterman

ICANN Board Member