Earlier this year, we announced that ICANN56 was going to be relocated from Panama City, Panama, to Helsinki, Finland, due to concerns related to the Zika virus. Following a great deal of internal debate and discussion, and taking into consideration the continued spread of Zika, we have decided that we will be relocating ICANN57 from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Hyderabad, India. Due to highly limited space availabilities, this relocation has necessitated changing the date of the meeting from 29 October – 4 November 2016, to 3 – 9 November 2016.
We did not arrive at this decision easily. We would much rather remain in Puerto Rico – the excellent location we had originally chosen. Moving the meeting venue creates a lot of additional work and challenges, and we understand and recognize that moving an ICANN meeting affects many groups within the community. However, we have come to the conclusion that we must postpone going to Puerto Rico after a lengthy discussion with and feedback from SO/AC leaders, the Board, and within our management team. This decision was based on available research and information and the fact that Puerto Rico has declared a state of emergency due to the ongoing Zika virus outbreak. We believe that the Zika virus poses a significant enough threat that we need to postpone going to Puerto Rico for the health and safety of our community and our ICANN team, just as we had to postpone ICANN52 and relocate from Marrakech to Singapore due to the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014.
Choosing a location for an ICANN meeting that meets the needs of the community is an incredibly complex task. Few venues in the world are able to satisfy all of our requirements, especially as the community continues to grow and more and more sessions are held in parallel. San Juan offered outstanding facilities capable of hosting a successful ICANN meeting, which is why we originally selected it as the location for ICANN57. In choosing an alternate location for ICANN57, we explored options all around the globe. A North American venue would have been our preference given our meeting rotation schedule, but due to the time of the year, a very busy conference season and our extremely demanding requirements, we weren’t presented with any ideal options. Fortunately, the Government of India offered to host ICANN57. We are very grateful for their proposal and their willingness to meet our extensive requirements in such a short amount of time.
We are therefore pleased to announce that ICANN57 will be held at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre, a state-of-the-art convention center capable of handling an ICANN meeting’s extensive conference space and network infrastructure requirements. Hyderabad itself is home to a booming tech sector, earning itself the nickname “Cyberabad,” and we’re looking forward to hosting a successful ICANN meeting in this wonderful city.
We fully understand that by relocating ICANN57, regional organizations and stakeholders will miss out on an opportunity to meet with their communities, as well as a chance to reach out to new community members. We are postponing not cancelling this meeting and we will return to the region as soon as possible.
ICANN’s Global Stakeholder Engagement (GSE) team will be working closely with the leaders of the different stakeholder groups in the region to try to mitigate the impact of this decision. We will be providing our increased support to meetings and events scheduled in the region, remote hubs in the region’s strategic points during the next two ICANN meetings, read-out sessions, capacity building webinars, activities in our Montevideo engagement center, support for our community to attend relevant regional and global events, and providing as much senior management and Board support on the ground as required.
I want to stress again that the decision to relocate ICANN57 was not made lightly, and that we feel it is extremely unfortunate the situation required us to postpone the meeting in San Juan. We understand how important it is to maintain the global rotation of ICANN meetings, as it allows local and regional communities to attend and participate, and we are committed to returning to Puerto Rico and Panama City as soon as possible, however the welfare of community members and staff is our top priority.
We thank you all for understanding this difficult situation and the choice we have had to make.