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Chair’s Blog: September Virtual Board Workshop

21 September 2020

From 9 to 11 September, the ICANN Board held a virtual workshop focused on organizing our work and ensuring that we are fully prepared to deliver on our operational priorities. With ICANN69, our Annual General Meeting (AGM), quickly approaching, it was also an opportunity to discuss some of the pressing issues the community will deliberate on during the meeting.

The Board continues to prepare for the next steps on several ongoing projects. This includes the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Council’s Final Report of the Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) on the Temporary Specification for Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) Registration Data, the third Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT3) Final Report, the Cross-Community Working Group on New gTLD Auction Proceeds (CCWG-AP) Final Report, and, once the GNSO Council has considered the draft final report, the GNSO’s policy on new gTLD Subsequent Procedures (SubPro). These projects, as well as others, will require our full attention and a comprehensive understanding of the complexities that will come with their implementation.

As part of our focus on organizing and preparing the Board for the months ahead, we have dedicated time to determining the slates for the Board’s various committees. A number of important projects are at key decision-making, prioritization, and implementation stages, so the Board has emphasized continuity and stability in its committee scheduling. We also await the 2020 Nominating Committee’s (NomCom) decisions regarding open leadership positions, which includes two Board members.

Board Meeting

During the Board’s Public Meeting, several resolutions were passed. Among others, the Board:

  • Accepted the recommendations of the Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) in appointing its chair and members. This includes the reappointment of Rod Rasmussen as SSAC chair for a three-year term starting on 1 January 2021, and the appointment of former ICANN Board Chair Steve Crocker to the SSAC, effective immediately.
  • Accepted the recommendations of the Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC) chair in appointing RSSAC members from each root server operator organization.
  • Determined that the proper procedures were followed in evaluating the request to transfer the .CO (Colombia) top-level domain to the Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies.
  • Resolved, in accordance with the Board Governance Committee’s (BGC) recommendations, that Ole Jacobsen be appointed the 2021 Nominating Committee (NomCom) chair, and Tracy Hackshaw be appointed as 2021 NomCom chair-elect.
  • Accepted the At-Large2 Review Final Implementation Report issued by the At-Large Review Implementation Working Group. This resolution marks the completion of this Organizational Review, in accordance with ICANN’s Bylaws.

The resolutions can be read in full here.

Over the past year, we’ve made significant progress toward our operational priorities, despite interruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. I will provide an update on the status of these priorities ahead of ICANN69.

Despite our best efforts, COVID-19 continues to disrupt how the community, org, and Board normally conduct their work. It is vital that we identify new and innovative approaches to collaboration within the ecosystem so that we can continue making progress toward our goals in a way that reflects our joint commitment to transparency and accountability. The Board is also exploring new options and avenues for interacting and engaging with the community. This is part of our ongoing efforts to keep the Board as transparent as possible and in touch with what is important to the community.

We are accustomed to relying on face-to-face interactions and in-person workshops to conduct the majority of our business and build effective working relationships. Yet, over the past six months, we’ve had to accept the limitations resulting from the global health crisis and adjust how we work, how we collaborate, and how we progress.

The social fabric that normally supports our ability to find consensus – little moments such as running into one another in the hallway or sharing a meal during a meeting – is gone. As we navigate the path ahead, we must not lose sight of the fact that we are all working together to support ICANN’s mission. During this period of distance and isolation, it is important that we reach out to the people that you would otherwise run into in the hallway and communicate with them. We cannot afford to wait for the “circumstantial opportunity” – we need to reach out to each other to continue to make it work. In the words of the late Jon Postel, who played a pivotal role in the creation of the Domain Name System (DNS), “Be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others.”

We must remember to be patient with one another during this virtual “normal,” and ensure that the lines of communication between the community, org, and Board remain open and strong. The multistakeholder model is stronger when we trust in the power of community, collaboration, and consensus-building, and make the best use of our means to do so.


Maarten Botterman

Maarten Botterman

ICANN Board Member