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Chair’s Blog: The Year Ahead and a Preview of the January Workshop

19 January 2021

On behalf of the ICANN Board, I wish you good health and happiness, and for those facing difficult times, please know that our thoughts are with you. The ICANN Board stands ready to work together with the org and community to achieve the goals we've outlined for the year ahead and recognizes that our mission has become more important than ever.

This will be a busy year. In 2020, the ICANN community finalized several key issues and projects, such as the Generic Names Supporting Organization's (GNSO) Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) and the third Accountability and Transparency Review (ATRT3), which are now moving toward implementation. In addition, the Board looks forward to working with the community to mitigate the growing threats to the Domain Name System (DNS), with a clear understanding of and focus on our responsibilities.

Our world remains a profoundly different place, but with the lessons learned from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we start this year prepared to confront whatever challenges come our way. Last year, ICANN67, originally scheduled as an in-person meeting in Cancún, Mexico, was held as our first remote Public Meeting. At that time, we fully expected to be in Cancún for ICANN70, as planned. We now know this is not to be the case.

This year we are more prepared than ever to meet virtually. Thanks to the rollout of increasingly better tools and resources intended to improve the virtual meeting experience and the feedback we received during and after ICANN69, we expect ICANN70 to be a resounding success. The Board thanks the ICANN community for their input, and looks forward to working together to implement the proposed changes.

As a Board, we are continually adapting to the inability to meet in-person. We organize our workshops differently, conduct regular Board information calls between workshops, and engage in a weekly Board social call that gives us an opportunity to know and appreciate each other as people, as well as colleagues. This year, in the absence of face-to-face meetings, we also want to experiment with new ways of interacting with the community. Together with ICANN org's Communications team, we are developing a way forward that we hope you will appreciate, so keep a lookout for more information!

Board Workshop

Prior to the pandemic, Board workshops were held in-person over the course of multiple days, similar to ICANN Public Meetings. In response to the limitations imposed by the pandemic, we have streamlined our Board workshops to enable us to focus on the most pressing issues, and to do so with fewer working hours than we would have when meeting face-to-face.

From 22-24 January, the Board will host its first workshop of the calendar year. Each day, our sessions will focus on high-priority issues. We'll also conduct an extended team-building exercise on 21 January, part of our wider initiative to strengthen collaboration and foster a positive internal culture.

On Friday, 22 January, I'll kick off our workshop with a brief introduction, followed by a dialogue with ICANN org President and CEO Göran Marby. The rest of the day will be dedicated to discussing the Board's approach to update the Strategic Plan this year, and an update on the work of the Root Server System Governance Working Group (RSS GWG).

Saturday, 23 January, will begin with a session dedicated to addressing the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as well as the proposed Operational Design Phase, and will end with a session focused on New Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) Subsequent Procedures (SubPro). The final day of the workshop, Sunday, 24 January, will begin with a discussion about the Draft Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) Operating Plan & Budget, which is currently open for Public Comment, followed by a public session focusing on the progress made toward the Board's FY21 Priorities.

I will report back to you after the workshop, with further perspective on the months to come. Together, the Board stands ready to deliver what is needed. We took several big steps just before the New Year's break by adopting a Risk Appetite Statement for the org and setting a clear strategic vision that outlines our objectives and goals in service of ICANN's mission. Let's ensure that we do what is needed in 2021 to continue to deliver on our mission: a well-functioning, secure, and stable unique identifier system that allows the Internet to serve the world.

Wherever you are, best wishes for the year to come.


Maarten Botterman

Maarten Botterman

ICANN Board Member