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Public Responsibility: A Year in Review

13 October 2014
By Nora Abusitta

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Nearly a year after ICANN's Strategy Panel on the Public Responsibility Framework was established, I am pleased to report that the operationalization of the Development and Public Responsibility Department (DPRD) is well underway.

As you may recall, the Panel started by defining public interest as ensuring that the Internet becomes, and continues to be, stable, inclusive, and accessible across the globe so that all may enjoy the benefits of a single and open Internet. It became clear that public interest would be too broad of a focus area for an ICANN operational department. For this reason, the Panel recommended the establishment of the Development and Public Responsibility Department (DPRD), which focuses on specific target areas in order to create shared value in the global Internet ecosystem and amongst current and future community members.

A year on, and inspired by the participation of community members at London ICANN50 in our DPRD session, the role of the Department remains to better serve and broaden the community, and facilitate participation through specific and measurable tracks. Below is a quick recap the initial great steps we have taken:

Localization and Language Services:

The sheer volume of content translated by the Language Services team is astounding. In July alone, almost 780,000 words requested by ICANN staff were translated. Language Services also provided interpretation during 90 sessions at ICANN50. The Department is currently running a focus group to determine how we can better serve our linguistically diverse community through content translation for the new ICANN.org. Through the Language Services Department, we make sure we reach as many community members as possible by providing them access to information in the 6 UN languages.

Education and Academic Outreach:

Since November last year, in addition to conducting academic outreach, our Online Learning Platform has become a reality. ICANN LEARN is nearly a year old and has grown to include 27 full courses in all UN languages, over half of which have been the results of community requests. Each month, there are more than 900 active users and 9,000 lessons viewed. Whether it is content that we identify as helpful to enable better participation from our community and staff, or content requested by our community and staff to empower them to make more educated decisions, this platform has proven successful to users across the board.

Supporting the Next Generation:

The Next Generation program has launched from a concept to a reality. As of ICANN 51, there will be more than 75 NextGen@ICANN members from a diverse array of countries and sectors and participant feedback has been extremely supportive. Some early participants have already applied to become a part of the successful Fellowship Program which supports a broader and more regionally diverse base of knowledgeable constituents by reaching out to the less developed regions of the world to build capacity within the ICANN Multistakeholder Model. An official Fellowship Mentor Program has also been established to better prepare and engage selected fellows before their ICANN Meeting experience. Additionally, approximately 200 Newcomers attend each of the Sunday welcome sessions at ICANN meetings. Through this track, the DPRD is raising awareness and encouraging participation of those currently not engaged or at the start of their relationship with ICANN and the Internet ecosystem.

Participation in Global Internet Cooperation and Development:

The Development and Public Responsibility Department has been taking a very active role in the Internet governance debate. In the last year we have participated in NETmundial, Internet Governance Forum events, and in several World Economic Forum Initiatives. Along with other organizations, ICANN has a public responsibility to ensure that the Internet governance ecosystem is representative, transparent, and accountable, and that it evolves in such a way that promotes these three qualities. Trust in the Internet more broadly, as well as trust in the Internet governance ecosystem must be built and nurtured by ICANN.

The above is just a small snapshot of the great work that is ongoing in ICANN to support development and public responsibility in the Internet ecosystem. At our Los Angeles ICANN 51 meeting, we are looking forward to engaging further with the community on our work and would like to take this opportunity to invite you to attend our session "ICANN's Public Responsibility".


Nora Abusitta