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Chair’s Blog: September Board Workshop Recap

22 September 2021

The ICANN Board recently finished four productive days where it considered a variety of topics and issues impacting ICANN today and in the future. As I explained in my pre-workshop blog, the pandemic has required us to continue to adapt our ways of working together. With thanks to our virtual tools, support from across the ICANN ecosystem, and a good deal of equanimity from my colleagues, the Board is pressing forward with its important work and delivering on ICANN's mission.

At the workshop from 10-13 September, the Board made progress on several issues of importance and gained further insight on other topics. There were several highlights that I'd like to share with you:


The Strategic Plan identifies our long-term strategic objectives to inform our annual operating plan and budget. The recently chartered Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) was established to help ensure that we are working toward our strategic priorities and identifying future trends. Our first workshop session, facilitated by SPC Chair Matthew Shears, focused on Strategic Objective 5, "Ensuring ICANN's long-term financial stability." We assessed how ICANN is progressing against the targeted outcomes and mitigating the strategic risks and considered how changes in the industry and other factors could impact ICANN's financial well-being in the future.

Next, we turned our attention to whether to initiate an Operational Design Phase to examine the recommendations provided in the Final Report on the New Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process. We recognize the interest in moving forward on the next round, and the policy efforts have been the subject of years of Community work, supported by the Board liaisons led by Avri Doria. This project will be a substantial and necessary investment. Danko Jevtović and the Board Finance Committee (BFC) members have worked closely with the Org teams on the resource requirements for both the ODP and the initial work on the next round. As you will have read in my blog, the Board has authorized the Org to begin work on the ODP and allocated the necessary resources to support it. This is a significant milestone in the path to the next round. I'm grateful to the many people who have contributed to helping us reach this point. We are making history together.

The Board receives advice on a variety of topics from the ICANN Advisory Committees and tracks their status in the Board Advice Register. Building on the detailed and well-documented approach we follow for Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) Advice, the Org is developing a more efficient way to track how the Board receives, considers, and accepts or rejects advice. The objective is to provide more transparency around how decisions are taken, improve predictability of the process for getting to a decision, and provide more clarity about implementing the advice. While these efforts are still ongoing, we believe the result will give us all a better common understanding of the advice status. Ensuring the Community's voice is heard is important in supporting our commitment to inclusivity.


At each Public Meeting, the GAC releases a Communiqué containing information, and advice for the Board, and the Board responds via resolution before the next ICANN Public Meeting. On Saturday, we had a substantive discussion led by Becky Burr about the issues contained in the ICANN71 GAC Communiqué, including intergovernmental organization acronym protections, the timeline for Phase One of the Expedited Policy Development Process for gTLD Registration Data, recommendations regarding the next round of gTLDs from the Competition, Consumer Trust and Consumer Choice (CCT) Review, and privacy and proxy issues. The Board formed responses to the issues that fall within our remit, and those are detailed in the scorecard here.

The Domain Name System (DNS) Security Facilitation Initiative Technical Study Group (DSFI-TSG), led by Merike Käo, updated the Board about research findings on DNS attack vectors. We look forward to the full report, and the contribution this work will make to the community's discussions around DNS security and stability.


We began the day refining the Board Operational Priorities for fiscal year 2022 (FY22). This process is intended to identify targeted deliverables intended to enhance and improve the way the Board works, in addition to its responsibilities in working with the Community and Org. Led by León Sánchez, we had significant conversations about a range of issues, such as our role in the Community discussions about DNS security threats, the evolution of the multistakeholder model, and evaluating the eventual return to face-to-face meetings. We expect to finalize these priorities by mid-October and share them with the Community by publishing a blog before the ICANN72 Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Next, we turned our focus to Göran Marby's President and CEO goals for FY22, which are developed in partnership with the Board. We agreed on the need for action in areas such as prioritizing work in front of us, engaging with the Community on returning to in-person meetings, and bolstering ICANN's relations with governments and other bodies in the Internet ecosystem. The Board appreciates that Göran stands ready to take these initiatives forward. The FY22 goals will soon be posted on the President's Corner page.

We closed Sunday with our official Board meeting. You can read the official record of the available resolutions and rationales here.


Every year, the Board, through processes overseen by the Board Governance Committee (BGC), pursues its organizational efforts for the next year, including the recommendation of the slating of Board committees, working groups, and caucus groups. In a session facilitated by Tripti Sinha, a proposal by the BGC was discussed and agreed to be taken forward for a formal vote by the Board at its Organizational Meeting at the end of the AGM.

After our internal Board organizational discussions, Göran updated the Board on the Community-Org engagement regarding a return to face-to-face meetings. ICANN continues to consult global medical and travel experts about the many variables involved. We recognize the necessity of returning to in-person meetings as soon as it is safe, but we also recognize our responsibility to the people around us. We discussed what it means to hold inclusive meetings with meaningful attendance both in-person and virtually. I have asked León Sánchez to work with the Community and the Org's taskforce with the aim to make progress together over the coming weeks.

We concluded, as we do with all workshops, with a feedback and reflection session to further improve our ways of working. A focus on continuous improvement is important, even more so today. One consequence of virtual workshops is that the active meeting time needs to be shorter than when we meet in person. In advance of the Annual General Meeting, the Board will continue to work on issues we were not able to tackle during this Board workshop. Whether we meet next in person or virtually, the Board remains committed to working to fulfill our mission.


Maarten Botterman

Maarten Botterman

ICANN Board Member