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Minutes | Meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee of the Board (SPC) | 3 October 2023

SPC Attendees: Matthew Shears – Chair, Maarten Botterman, Avri Doria and Sajid Rahman

Other Board Member: Patricio Poblete

SPC Apologies: Becky Burr, Edmon Chung, James Galvin, Wes Hardaker and Christian Kaufmann

Executive and Staff Attendees: Margaret Benavides (Planning Manager), Xavier Calvez (SVP, Planning and Chief Financial Officer), Franco Carrasco (Board Operations Specialist), Samantha Eisner (Deputy General Counsel), Becky Nash (VP, Planning), Sally Newell Cohen (SVP, Global Communications) 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 SPC Chair established the agenda for the meeting and gave an overview of items to be discussed.
  2. FY25 Strategic Outlook Program Update and Trend Analysis – The SPC continued its discussion on this topic from its previous meeting held on 25 September 2023.

    For the SPC's ease of reference, ICANN org provided a brief overview of the changes that were made to the presentation slides pursuant to the SPC's previous meeting. The SPC Chair reiterated that the objective of this meeting (and the previous SPC meeting held on 25 September 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.

    Consider evaluating short term action:

    Trend 1.07 about Emerging Identifier Technologies (Unique Identifier Systems)

    This year, this evolved trend remains consistent, and it is unclear how and if Artificial Intelligence (AI) will impact ICANN.

    The SPC discussed and provided some suggestions to clarify that AI was one of the issues that arose in the trends, among others.

    Trend 1.14: about Prioritization (Financials)

    Last year's trend remains consistent, no notable shift.

    The SPC continued its discussion on the next section that is labeled as "Maintain Action", comprising of two categories: (1) maintain action short term; and (2) maintain action medium term.

    Trend 2.2: about DNS ecosystem security (Security)

    The trend remains consistent from last year. No notable shifts.

    Trend 1.04 about Public Awareness of ICANN (Governance)

    This trend remains unchanged; it remains consistent and no notable shifts.

    Trend 1.16 about New gTLD Next Round (Unique Identifier Systems)

    There is much discussion about the New gTLD Program, as well as potential implications, to ensure that community needs are met.

    Trend 1.13 about UA and IDN (Unique Identifier Systems)

    Last year's trend remains consistent. No notable shifts.

    The SPC discussed and agreed to incorporate additional language to this trend to capture all the different areas of work under this trend in the context of the Operational Plan and the CEO goals.

    The SPC commented that going forward, for purposes of developing FY26-30, additional information should be included in the assessment section to demonstrate and emphasize the means/confines of limited resources and prioritizing certain areas from a strategic standpoint.

    Trend 1.01 about Transparency, accountability, inclusiveness, and openness (Governance)

    Last year's overarching trend remains consistent.

    Trend 1.02 about ICANN's long-term funding (Financials)

    While last year's trends remain mostly true, it seems important to underline a few important shifts:

    • Financial position is stable in terms of funding and expenses. ICANN plans for operating expenses to remain at or lower than budget funding, drawing from designated and available funding sources, because of careful cost control, and for ICANN's Reserve Fund to remain above its minimum target level; and
    • Interest surrounding the New gTLD Program: Next Round continues and is addressed (Trend 1.16 under the Unique Identifier Systems Strategic Objective).

    ICANN org provided a summary of the conclusions:

    • The FY25 trend identification sessions yielded a total of 11 trends.
    • Six trends showed no notable shift evolved when compared to the previous year.
    • Five trends prompted ICANN org to evaluate or consider evaluating short-term actions (see five listed below).
    • When reviewing the past year, ICANN has actively undertaken numerous activities to address these trends, and the results have notably enhanced the strategic targeted outcomes.

    Trends Evaluated for Short Term Actions:

    • Security: DNS Abuse (Trend 1.15): Numerous ongoing activities to address trend and shift. Build on progress made, e.g., DAAR evolution, contract amendment and compliance.
    • Governance: ICANN'S multistakeholder model (Trend 3.1): Continue to carry out planned activities and improve progress reporting. Enhance and expand use of CES.
    • Geopolitics: Legislations and regulations (Trend 3.7): Continue development and implementation of strategy to address WSIS +20 review process and add resources in specific regions to collaborate directly with IGOs, governments, and institutions regarding the importance of the technical community on legislation, regulation, policy and standard development.
    • Unique Identifier Systems: Emerging Identifiers Technologies (Trend 1.07): Raise awareness and engage on alternative namespaces and emerging technologies.
    • Financials: Prioritization (1.14): Continue evolution of planning prioritization framework.

    The SPC Chair commented that the SPC has identified several issues to raise as part of the next strategic plan and its development, as discussed with the Board during the recent Board Workshop in Istanbul.

    ICANN org recommended that the SPC consider recommending to the Board that the 5-Year Strategic Plan remains unchanged and ICANN org will continue to carry out the activities in the Operating Initiatives and CEO Goals and report out in progress. Responding to a query from the SPC Chair, ICANN org noted that the rationale section in the Draft Board Paper will be amended to identify new areas of focus or heightened areas of focus to recognize that substantive discussion that was had during the meeting.

    The SPC Chair will summarize the discussion that transpired during this meeting to inform absent SPC members, and to seek their input/feedback, in any.

    The SPC concluded its discussion on this topic and agreed to recommend to the Board to keep the ICANN Strategic Plan for FY2021-2025 unchanged, with no restatement of the Strategic Plan needed at this time. This recommendation is formed after careful consideration of the analysis of the inputs received from the strategic outlook trends identification sessions in March and April 2023.

    ICANN org informed the SPC that it is in the midst of editing the draft FY25 Trend Report – making some edits and changes based on the discussions during the previous and this meeting. Thereafter, ICANN org will circulate it to the SPC, before sharing it with the Board who will take action on the FY25 Strategic Outlook Trend result and recommendations (in October 2023). ICANN org highlighted that the report will be published on the ICANN website (by end October 2023).

    • Action Items:

      • ICANN org to modify the FY25 Trend Report based on the feedback/input received from the SPC during the 25 September 2023 meeting and today.
      • ICANN org to circulate the FY25 Trend Report to the SPC, before circulating it the Board who will take action on the FY25 Strategic Outlook Trend result and recommendations (in October 2023).
      • The FY25 Trend Report to be published on the ICANN website (in end October 2023).
  3. Any Other Business – Maarten Botterman expressed his appreciation, on behalf of the SPC, to the departing SPC Chair for his exemplary leadership throughout his tenure as the SPC Chair. The SPC Chair then expressed his appreciation to the SPC members for their continuous support and contribution to the SPC.

The SPC Chair called the meeting to a close.

Published on 10 November 2023