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Minutes | Meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee of the Board (SPC) | 5 October 2022

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

SPC Apologies: Becky Burr

Observers: Manal Ismail, Patricio Poblete, León Sánchez and Katrina Sataki

Executive and Staff Attendees: Michelle Bright (Board Content Coordinator Director), Xavier Calvez (SVP, Planning and Chief Financial Officer), Franco Carrasco (Board Operations Specialist), Becky Nash (VP, Planning), Laena Rahim (Regional Counsel, APAC), Lisa Saulino (Board Operations Specialist) and Victoria Yang (Senior Manager, Planning)

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 - A brief summary of the SPC's workplan was reviewed, which sets out the SPC's scope of responsibilities and relevant timelines for performance of its work. ICANN org highlighted that the two SPC meetings scheduled in October 2022 will focus on the Strategic Outlook process.

    The workplan will be monitored on a regular basis, to ascertain whether it requires any further modifications. From the planning perspective and for the benefit of the SPC members, ICANN org will assist the SPC to formulate a more comprehensive timeline and workplan to provide an overview of the long-term agenda items for the SPC.

  3. FY24 Strategic Outlook Process Update – ICANN org provided a brief update on the FY24 strategic outlook process, which is currently underway. The objective of this meeting (and the next meeting on 17 October 2022) is for the SPC to review the FY24 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 Five Year Adopted Strategic Plan for FY2021-2025.

    For the benefit of newly appointed members of the SPC, ICANN org reiterated that the Board performs an annual review has an obligation to ensure that the adopted Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2021-2025 does not need to be updated for any significant shift in trends or any new trends. 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.

    ICANN org provided a summary of the approach employed for the trend identification process:

    • Trend analysis and identification of notable shifts in trends or new trends and their impacts on ICANN.
    • Evaluation and determination of the materiality/immediacy of the impacts of the trends identified.
    • Preliminary, systematic assessment using a materiality/immediacy decision matrix (indicative only).
    • Decision of strategic or tactical opportunities:

      1. Strategic assessment results in recommendation to evolve strategic plan (subject to SPC recommendation); and
      2. Tactical assessment results in recommendation to take short-term (current fiscal year plan) actions and/or to consider in the next fiscal year operating plan.

    Between January and April 2022, ICANN org convened 13 Strategic Outlook trend identification sessions with 261 participants from the community, the Board and ICANN org, resulting in 1016 data points collected (which resulted in 771 trend statements, 142 risks or threats, and 103 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.

    In September 2022, ICANN org prepared a draft report summarizing the results of the trends identification sessions conducted, to inform the Board and the SPC 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.

    The SPC engaged in an in-depth discussion on the assessment of new impacts and proposals and discussion points presented by ICANN org in relation to the Strategic Objective: Security. This year, DNS abuse continued to receive the greatest emphasis. Root server security, DNS ecosystem security, and Internet of Things security continue to be raised as main contributing drivers of security concerns. Two topics also emerged this year: geopolitical and economic risks, and stability and resiliency of the DNS.

    Some observations and feedback from the SPC include:

    • The SPC noted that the results of the trends identification sessions conducted were collected and analyzed within the planning cycle period. However, the SPC may have additional input/feedback to share at this juncture (for instance, post ICANN74 and ICANN75) which may be material to the findings.
    • Responding to a query from the SPC on the budgeting process, ICANN org clarified that if there is a suggested adjustment to a trend, this would be an input into either a new Strategic Plan, and or into the Operating Plan. The budget process for FY24 is currently underway with the development of the Operating Plan and Budget, which is expected to be published in mid-December 2022.
    • In relation to the evolution of top priority trends, the SPC commented that while some topics may not have received high increase in priority votes year over year, or may have fallen in importance based on priority votes as compared to last year, this does not necessarily indicate that such topics are no longer of importance in the ICANN community. 
    • The SPC noted the importance of looking at the data collected as an input/indication based on the votes of the participants - it is not metrics or measurements of progress, and they cannot translate directly into actions (e.g., more spending required). The data is collected at a point in time, influenced by people's perceptions and opinions. Inclusion of the statements in the report is intended to reflect the data collected and is not intended as an endorsement. The SPC observed that the trends may be related to one another; and it may be difficult to draw conclusions based on the priority votes. For instance, the topic of government engagement received the highest increase in priority votes year over year; while the topic of governmental pressure showed the greatest drop in votes compared to last year. ICANN org explained that when participants vote, they are more focused on the opportunity (e.g., it is a priority for ICANN to continue with government engagement so more participants voted on it as something to do, while acknowledging that there is governmental pressure).
    • In relation to the proposed trend language, the SPC noted the importance of demonstrating whether the ongoing activities related to the trend address a notable shift, and/or whether the issue is being addressed by ICANN.

    Due to time constraints, the SPC will continue its discussion on this topic at its next meeting on 17 October 2022. In the meantime, the Chair encouraged the SPC members to provide their input and feedback on the results of this year's trend identification sessions, as well as additional observations on noticeable shifts in trends or new noteworthy trends, via the SPC mailing list.

    Upon receiving comments/input from the SPC, ICANN org will make some modification to the conclusions of the FY24 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 17 October 2022. Thereafter, the SPC will formulate a recommendation to the Board on potential changes, if any to the current ICANN Strategic Plan for FY24 (after careful consideration of the inputs received through the strategic outlook trends identification process).

    • Action Item:

      • In anticipation of the next SPC meeting on 17 October 2022, the SPC members to review the remaining of the presentation slides and the draft FY24 Trend Analysis Report, and to provide their observations and feedback via the SPC mailing list.

The Chair called the meeting to a close.

Published on 19 December 2022