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ICANN56, the New Meeting Format, and What that Means to You

6 May 2016
By Nick Tomasso

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Next month will see our second public meeting of 2016 - ICANN56 - take place in Helsinki. This is the second meeting under the new meeting strategy, but the approach to the mid-year meeting is different from what we’re used to. 

Why the change?

The community wanted to address the growing pains associated with the success and expansion of ICANN Public Meetings over the years. For example, ICANN55 in Marrakech hosted over 2200 delegates and nearly 400 sessions. The rising demand for more sessions along with the increase in overall attendance has resulted in over-scheduled agendas and reduced opportunities for cross-community interaction. After a considerable amount of research and analysis, the community-led Meeting Strategy Working Group drafted a set of recommendations, which were provided for public comment and ultimately approved by the board. The new meeting strategy was designed to derive the following benefits:

  • Enhance cross-community interaction

  • Increase efficient use of time by each part of the community

  • Increase concentrated time of policy work while reducing session conflict/overlap

  • Increase opportunity for issue-based and/or language-based interactions

  • Reduce meeting length for some groups based upon their focus and interest

  • Continued regional rotation for all meetings

What does this mean for the upcoming ICANN56 in Helsinki?

ICANN56 falls under the Meeting B (Policy Forum) structure. This means it is strictly a four-day meeting with sessions limited to “policy work and outreach,” with the Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees taking the lead in organizing the program. The guiding principle is that sessions scheduled should be core to current policy development work, and involve working with other constituencies on matters that would benefit from cross-community dialogue. Session requests can only be made through SO/AC leadership.

Under the Meeting B format, ICANN56 will not have an opening ceremony, high-interest topics, public forums, public board meeting or sponsor exhibition area.

ICANN56 will be a first for all of us. Your feedback and input will be important to us as we review and assess the new structure to further enhance the delivery of the Meeting B strategy going forward.

Please feel free to leave questions or comments below and Tanzanica King or I will get back to you. 


Nick Tomasso