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Minutes | Meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee of the Board (SPC) | 25 September 2023

SPC Attendees: Matthew Shears – Chair, Maarten Botterman, Becky Burr, Edmon Chung, Avri Doria, James Galvin, Wes Hardaker, Christian Kaufmann and Sajid Rahman

Observers: Danko Jevtovic and Katrina Sataki

Executive and Staff Attendees: Margaret Benavides (Planning Manager), Xavier Calvez (SVP, Planning and Chief Financial Officer), Franco Carrasco (Board Operations Specialist), Becky Nash (VP, Planning), Amy Stathos (Deputy General Counsel) and Theresa Swinehart (SVP, Global Domains & Strategy)

The following is a summary of discussions, decisions, and actions identified:

The meeting was called to order at 14:30 UTC.

  1. Agenda – The Chair established the agenda for the meeting and gave an overview of items to be discussed.
  2. Review of SPC Workplan and Meeting Cadence - ICANN organization provided a brief summary of the SPC's workplan, which sets out the SPC's scope of responsibilities and relevant timelines for performance of its work. ICANN org also highlighted the meeting cadence for the SPC. The next SPC meeting scheduled in October 2023 will continue to focus on the Strategic Outlook process; and the SPC meetings in November 2023 to February 2024 will focus on the development of the Five-Year Strategic Plan for FY26-30.
  3. FY25 Strategic Outlook Program Update and Trend Analysis – ICANN org provided a brief update on the FY25 strategic outlook process, which is currently underway. The objective of this meeting (and the next SPC meeting on 3 October 2023) is for the SPC to review the FY25 Strategic Outlook trends results and evaluate the recommendations, with a view to formulate a recommendation to the Board on potential changes, if any, to the current ICANN Strategic Plan for FY25. This data will also serve as a reference for the consultation input for the development of the ICANN Strategic Plan for FY26-30.

    The Chair reiterated that the Board has an obligation to ensure that the adopted Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2021-2025 continues to meet ICANN's needs. The SPC oversees the annual Strategic Outlook process, which ensures that ICANN has a consistent way to identify and track trends, prepare for opportunities, mitigate or avoid challenges, inform strategic and operational planning and prioritization.

    The Chair noted that in addition to the SPC carrying out its oversight role on the annual Strategic Outlook process, it is also advantageous and timely for the SPC to evaluate and provide feedback on the current strategic outlook exercise (e.g., lessons learnt, suggested improvements, etc.).

    ICANN org briefed the SPC on the FY25 strategic outlook process status update and next steps:

    Phase 1 (complete): Trend Identification (March-April 2023)

    • "Raw" data collected on trends, risks, opportunities, and votes for top priorities.
    • Data cataloguing.

    Phase 2 (complete): Trend Analysis (May-July 2023)

    • New trends or notable shifts in trends and their impacts for ICANN.
    • Top priorities.
    • Quantitative and qualitative analysis.
    • Verification with publicly available information and knowledge expertise, supported by ICANN org SMEs/Executives.

    Phase 3 (in progress): Impact Assessment (August-October 2023)

    • SPC evaluates and recommends to the Board.
    • Strategic recommendations to the Board.
    • Board decision (at the AGM).
    • Evaluation and determination of the materiality/immediacy of the impacts of the trends identified.

    Between February and April 2023, ICANN org convened 12 Strategic Outlook trend identification sessions with 207 participants from the community, the Board and ICANN org, resulting in 1048 data points collected (which resulted in 662 trend statements, 204 risks or threats, and 192 suggested actions or opportunities). Trend session participants were asked to consider trends, risks and opportunities across five focus areas: security, unique identifier systems, governance, geopolitics and financials. Trend session participants were also encouraged to have a forward-looking approach as they participated in the brainstorming sessions, so that the data will also provide some input for the development of the ICANN Strategic Plan for FY26-30.

    Each statement received during the trend identification session is captured in a database. Each statement is assigned with several attributes to enable analysis and evolution over the years:

    • Strategic Objective: e.g., Governance;
    • Overarching Trend: e.g., Governance related to the Multistakeholder Model (MSM); and
    • Topic: e.g., Policy decision and implementation challenges.

    ICANN org highlighted that in some cases, it is possible for a topic to be listed under two different strategic objectives based on the input from the session attendees.

    ICANN org is in the midst of preparing a draft FY25 Trend Report summarizing the results of the trends identification sessions conducted, to inform the Board, the SPC, the Executive team and ICANN org about shifts in trends that may affect their work, planning and budget. ICANN org highlighted some of the result of this year's trend identification sessions, as well as additional observations on noticeable shifts in trends or new noteworthy trends, including:

    • Over the past three years, the strategic objective of Governance has continuously achieved the most votes. The strategic objective of Unique Identifier Systems gained more focus this year, and the strategic objective of Security is on par from last year. The strategic objective of Financials has increased slightly from last year, while Geopolitics has decreased from last year.
    • Governance (MSM) has decreased from FY24, and is even lower than FY23. Governance (inclusivity, transparency and accountability) is relatively consistent for the past two years. Unique Identifier System (new gTLDs) is a new priority for FY25. Geopolitics (Legislation and Regulation) has remained high for the last three years and Financials (Funding and Budget) has a slight increase in priority compared to the previous two years.
    • In terms of FY24 Trend Topics, the topics of new gTLDs Program, Legislations and Regulations, and DNS abuse received the most votes in FY25. The SPC remarked that the votes demonstrate that ICANN Funds/Budget, Internet Governance and Government Engagement have increased significantly in priority votes from the previous years.
    • This year, the topics of new gTLDs Program, Legislations and Regulations, and DNS abuse received the highest increase in priority votes year over year, while the topics of Effectiveness of the Multistakeholder Model, Engagement and Participation, and Internet Evolution and DNS Relevance showed the greatest drop in votes as compared to last year.

    For FY25, the trend identification sessions yielded a total of 11 trends. Six trends showed no notable shift evolved when compared to the previous year. Five trends are in the category of "Evaluate short term action" or "Consider evaluating short term action".

    Evaluate short term action:

    Trend 1.15 about DNS Abuse (Security)

    This year, this evolved trend on DNS abuse has a notable shift. Positive comments have surfaced related to the proposed Base gTLD Registry Agreement amendments, the proposed Registrar Accreditation contract amendment and activities conducted to combat DNS abuse. This has the potential to positively impact overall efforts to enhance DNS security mitigation.

    The SPC discussed and noted that there is value in recognizing the progress that is being made by the community as a whole in the final report to reflect the broader efforts of the community. Further, ICANN org to consider acknowledging the community's efforts in relation to combating DNS abuse in the operating plan for FY25,

    Trend 3.1: ICANN's MSM (Governance)

    The notable shift is complex policy development and implementation work continues, including the challenge of achieving consensus.

    The SPC discussed this trend in depth and agreed to discuss this further at its next meeting, and to consider incorporating additional examples addressing the challenges of achieving consensus.

    Trend 3.7: Legislation and Regulation (Geopolitics)

    Notable shift that is highlighted is the ongoing IGO processes, initiatives, events and statements made at the UN, and other agencies touch on ICANN's mission. There have also been conversations about a possible replacement of the Internet Governance Forum with a multilateral forum.

    The SPC commented that the notable shift should include a recognition in the broader context of geopolitics, as ICANN has been working with national governments, regional governments, etc. and has been bringing about change that is referred to in the notable shift.

    Due to time constraints, the SPC will continue its discussion on this topic at its next meeting on 3 October 2023.

    Upon receiving further comments/input from the SPC at its next meeting, ICANN org will make some modification to the conclusions of the FY25 Trend Report across the five focus areas: Security, Governance, Unique Identifier Systems, Geopolitics and Financials. It is anticipated that the SPC will conclude its discussion on this topic at its meeting on 3 October 2023. Thereafter, the SPC will formulate a recommendation to the Board on potential changes, if any to the current ICANN Strategic Plan for FY25 (after careful consideration of the inputs received through the strategic outlook trends identification process).

    • Action Items:

      • ICANN org to identify appropriate language to amend and incorporate the SPC's comments on the specific trends discussed.
      • In anticipation of the next SPC meeting on 3 October 2023, the SPC members to review the remaining of the presentation slides prior to the meeting.

The Chair called the meeting to a close.

Published on 10 November 2023