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Update: ICANN’s Strategic Initiatives

28 January 2014
By Theresa SwinehartTheresa Swinehart

It’s been a few months now since I rejoined ICANN, and as we really get going with 2014, I thought it would be useful to provide an overview and update to the strategic initiatives underway at ICANN, in particular those that relate to the strategy panels.

Since coming back, I’ve been very focused on ICANN’s strategy and wanted to give my sense on some of the many moving parts. The ICANN initiatives fall into two broad categories: strengthening and continuing to evolve and improve ICANN as a multistakeholder organization; and contributing as a partner in the Internet eco-system to strengthening awareness and the evolution of multistakeholder Internet governance and cooperation, in a manner that ensures the continued flexibility to adapt to emerging issues.

ICANN is one of the multistakeholder organizations in the Internet ecosystem, and a partner among many that ensures multistakeholder Internet cooperation on a range of issues. It is committed to both improving itself as a multistakeholder organization, and to partnering and contributing to strengthening Internet cooperation globally. ICANN continuously seeks to ensure its own mechanisms continue to evolve, and, through dialogues with the community, will identify areas of improvement that will enable ICANN to serve its global community within its mission and mandate. The Affirmation of Commitment reviews and the recently concluded ATRT2 review final report [PDF, 3.46 MB], the strategy panels and the strategic planning are all facets towards this objective.

As a partner in global Internet governance and cooperation, ICANN is committed to working with partners in the Internet eco-system across all stakeholder groups, supporting the IGF, and to engaging in discussions on strengthening Internet cooperation to ensure issues of Internet-related matters are addressed from a multistakeholder approach, as global discussions evolve.

Below is an overview of the strategy panels and some of the IG related initiatives many of you are involved with in addition to others in other forums.

Strategy Panels:

Let’s start with the Strategy Panels, which are intended to inform a new vision and five-year strategic plan for ICANN. The Panels are advisory, reporting to the ICANN CEO, and their outcomes will serve as to inform ICANN’s strategic planning process. The panels’ activities have been aligned to fit the strategic planning cycle of ICANN, as announced at
http://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-09oct13-en.htm, and a first draft of focus areas for the Strategic Plan was posted for public comments until 31 January 2014, which can be read at:

The output from the Panels will be posted for public comment from 31 January—30 April 2014, and will be discussed by the community at the ICANN Singapore meeting in March. This allows time for discussion and integration of comments into the Final Strategic Plan, as appropriate. More information is available at ICANN’s strategic planning portal at http://www.icann.org/en/about/planning/strategic-engagement.
Here is a quick update on each of the Panels we announced in Durban in July 2013 (see http://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-15jul13-en.htm).

  1. Identifier Technology Innovation, chaired by Paul Mockapetris, is geared to develop a technology roadmap for the DNS and for ICANN’s technical and security operations. Messages can be addressed to itipanel@icann.org (a public mailing list). The panel has conducted webinars, information on these discussions can be found at: http://www.icann.org/en/about/planning/strategic-engagement/identifier-technology.

  2. ICANN’s Role in the Internet Governance Ecosystem, chaired by Vint Cerf, is looking at ICANN’s responsibilities and stewardship in the Internet ecosystem in serving a complex set of Internet constituencies. Messages can be addressed to ioepanel@icann.org (a public mailing list). Recent outputs of webinars and discussions can be found at: http://www.icann.org/en/about/planning/strategic-engagement/governance-ecosystem

  3. ICANN Multistakeholder Innovation, (sometimes shortened to “MSI”), chaired by Beth Simone Noveck, has been tasked with proposing new models for inclusive engagement, consensus-based policymaking and suitable support structures, tools and platforms. They collaborate with an entity named GovLab and have recently reached out to all in the community (see the invite here), inviting any ideas for submission to http://thegovlab.ideascale.com. Then they will submit a proposal to the CEO and community by late January or early February, followed by comments and collaborative drafting through February. Messages can also be addressed to msipanel@icann.org (a public mailing list). They will be hosting a webinar on 31 January, please see information at: http://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-23jan14-en.htm

  4. Public Responsibility Framework, chaired by Nii Quaynor, is engaged to look at ways to promote the global public interest, the diversity of stakeholders (especially within the developing world), capacity-building and advice on suitable initiatives to these effects. Messages can be addressed to prfpanel@icann.org (a public mailing list). http://www.icann.org/en/about/planning/strategic-engagement/public-responsibility
    For information about the members of the four panels above, see announcement at http://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-14oct13-en.htm.

Internet Governance, 1net, and strengthening the dialogue:

ICANN has been a long-time participant and partner in Internet Governance. It has participated in numerous initiatives including, importantly, the IGF, as well as others in the Internet Technical Community. As is widely known, ICANN joined other Internet Technical Organizations in the Montevideo statement last year and has engaged with other organizations on topics around Internet Governance.

These engagements occurred at the 2013 IGF, and through the launch of the 1Net.org dialogue to increase awareness and discussion around multistakeholder and Internet cooperation – serving as a canvas for the community to fill with ideas – , and the upcoming meeting hosted in Brazil Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance in Brazil. For further information on this meeting see: www.netmundial.org.

There are multiple other dialogues relating to Internet Governance over the course of the coming years. A diagram of key global Internet activities towards the Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance can be found below. These all provide an opportunity for community engagement and expertise.

ICANN Cross-Community Working Group on Internet Governance:

A cross-community working group, CCWG on Internet Governance, was initiated as a space for the community to exchange information and ideas to participate in 1Net, and be a cross-community group within ICANN to provide input on evolving Internet governance issues, including for the meeting in Brazil in April 2014. The CCWG is of course not intended to replace other dialogues or mechanisms, but was initiated to further ICANN community dialogue on these important topics. Information on the CCWG can be found at: https://community.icann.org/x/kyWfAg.

High-Level Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms (partnership between ICANN, Sunnylands and WEF)

The outline of the fifth Strategy Panel was announced in Durban, and defined and launched in Buenos Aires. In partnership with the Annenberg Foundation and the World Economic Forum, this newly established Panel, chaired by the President of Estonia, Toomas Ilves, with Vint Cerf as Vice-Chair, is comprised of a diverse group of global stakeholders from government, civil society, the private sector, the technical community and international organizations. The Panel’s work is facilitated by a team of Internet governance experts.

The first gathering of the Panel took place in London, 12–13 December. The drafting team, led by the experts, met in Brussels from 20-21 January and worked on coordinating and synthesizing the wealth of views and opinions expressed by the Panel in London on issues including the attributes, qualities, and characteristics of any future eco-system of Internet governance.

The Panel will conduct two additional meetings in the coming months. The next meeting, scheduled for February 27-28, 2014 in Rancho Mirage, California, will be hosted by The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands. Following this meeting, a high-level draft report will be released for open consultation, and used as input to several events and fora in 2014, including the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance in Brazil. A final meeting will be hosted by the World Economic Forum in May 2014 in Dubai. During this meeting, the Panel will consider community feedback and discussions at forums, such as the Brazil conference. To follow the developments of this panel you can also follow the hashtag on twitter (#internetpanel). Further information on the panel can be found at: http://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-13dec13-en.htm

Boston Consulting Group Report: Greasing the Wheels of the Internet Economy.

The recent report, Greasing the Wheels of the Internet Economy, by BCG, commissioned by ICANN and accessible at http://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-24jan14-en.htm, takes a look at Internet access and use around the world, and the economic importance of an open single Internet. The report’s “e-friction” index describes and quantifies factors that inhibit the growth and maturity of the Internet economy. It measures obstacles to, access to, and engagement with, the Internet for both individuals and businesses across four components; Infrastructure, Industry, Individual and Information. This is well worth a read as we discuss the range of topics, and how to continue to work together to improve the Internet eco-system.

I hope the above is helpful in providing an overview and clarifying any questions around the respective initiatives. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.


Theresa Swinehart

Theresa Swinehart

SVP, Global Domains and Strategy, Co-Deputy to the President and CEO

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