ICANN has made a deep effort to outreach to local community at the IGF in Baku by sponsoring members of the ICANN community to attend the event, maintaining an information booth and hosting a cocktail reception. At his debrief meeting with the ICANN community at IGF, Mr. Fadi Chehadé stated his enthusiasm to see the rapid development in Azerbaijan and noted that while there may have been logistic and technical hurdles with hosting the IGF it was very heartening to see the effort put in. He noted that 13% of the US economy revenues comes from the internet and the rest of the world is briskly following and will beat the US soon.
Next, he described the intention of ICANN at the IGF to provide sincere outreach on matters such as
– the utilisation of the multi-stakeholder model not only for an event (such as IGF) but organisationally (as applied by ICANN). The local Government intitiatives described by the Azerbaijan Vice Prime Minister at the IGF Opening Ceremony also noted the importance of dialogue and interaction between State entities and NGOs involved and a range of ICT activities, and confirmed their committment to ensure rapid internet access ad services in the region so that each household are part of the internet, development of the interent society among other initiatives, and ensuring measures are put in place to guarantee freedom of access and respect for human rights.
– the differential role of ICANN related to the DNS in the internet policy development space while recognising that engagement with IGF is important and must be sincere. This sentiment was also echoed in the IGF opening ceremony Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Dr. Touré whereby he stated that the ITU is looking forward to fulfilling complimentary mandates to work with ICANN and that ITU does not want to take over the internet but create benefit from equitable, affordable and safe Internet access.
– synergies between ICANN with the IGF and UN such as in providing engagement with youth. The intention is to start a program called model ICANN (with the same structure as model UN) for children to participate, understand and mimic what happens at the ICANN. This would serve to benefit not only their understanding but also helps with the debate.
While ICANN is open and transparent, it is challenging to figure out how the different parts work in isolation and together. Being defensive does not increase understanding, rather representatives from each constituency and stakeholder group plays different roles which can help remove friction calmly over time. For instance, Mr. Chehadé analogised At-Large within ICANN as the feet of the internet through registrants but considered that it must be in touch with resellers and registrars to create engagement and ties through other mechanisms than just policy discussion.
Further, considering that ICANN is not a membership organisation and engagement is largely voluntary, it is absolutely necessary to take ICANN to the fringes and create local awareness. Engagement officers like the ones representing ICANN at the IGF to populate our relationship with other people.