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Chair’s Blog: Recap of the January Remote Board Workshop

11 February 2021

The ICANN Board convened virtually to hold its first workshop of the calendar year from 22-24 January 2021. As I mentioned in my preview blog, the Board continues to evolve how we collaborate and conduct our business. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to make meeting in person an impossibility, it’s still critical that we find opportunities to strengthen our working relationships. Prior to the start of the workshop, we held a team building exercise aimed at recognizing and appreciating the Board’s diversity.

On Friday, 22 January, following our dialogue with President and CEO Göran Marby, the Board received an update from the Strategic Planning Committee, and continued our discussion about how we will approach potential updates to ICANN’s Strategic Plan for fiscal years (FY) 2021-2025. The Board remains committed to working with ICANN org and the community to identify the best approach to ensuring ICANN’s strategic plan remains relevant and up-to-date. We also held a session regarding the work being undertaken by the Root Server System Governance Working Group (RSS GWG) to develop a governance model for the Root Server System based on the principles outlined in RSSAC037 and RSSAC038.

On the second day of the workshop, Saturday, 23 January, the Board held sessions about ICANN’s work regarding the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and new generic top-level domain (gTLD) Subsequent Procedures (SubPro).

During both, we spent time discussing the proposed Operational Design Phase (ODP), which is needed to provide the Board with relevant operational information during its consideration of Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO)-council approved recommendations. The Board is highly supportive of this proposal, as having additional data regarding costs, time, risks, and obstacles will help set expectations for recommendations, especially for complex issues such as SubPro and Auction Proceeds. We also believe that the process outlined in the proposal further enhances transparency and accountability when moving towards implementation.

On Sunday, 24 January – the final day of the workshop – the Board started with a meeting regarding the FY22 Draft Operating Plan and Budget followed by our public session, which provided an update on the Board’s FY21 Operational Priorities. The Board organizes its work into five key areas of responsibility, such as “ICANN Org Oversight” and “Governance & Fiduciary Responsibilities.” If you’re interested in learning more about the Board’s priorities, I highly encourage you to also watch this video featuring myself and Vice-Chair León Sanchez.

The Board stands united and ready to do what is needed in the year to come. The five-year strategic and operational plans provide excellent guidance for the community, org, and Board to work together to do the right thing – not just today, but well into the future.



Maarten Botterman

Maarten Botterman

ICANN Board Member