ICANN Resolutions » Impact of COVID-19 on ICANN69
Important note: The Board Resolutions are as reported in the Board Meeting Transcripts, Minutes & Resolutions portion of ICANN's website. Only the words contained in the Resolutions themselves represent the official acts of the Board. The explanatory text provided through this database (including the summary, implementation actions, identification of related resolutions, and additional information) is an interpretation or an explanation that has no official authority and does not represent the purpose behind the Board actions, nor does any explanations or interpretations modify or override the Resolutions themselves. Resolutions can only be modified through further act of the ICANN Board.
Whereas, on 23 June 2018, the ICANN Board approved for ICANN organization to proceed to contracting in support of the October 2020 ICANN Public Meeting (ICANN69) in Hamburg, Germany (https://www.icann.org/resources/board-material/resolutions-2018-06-23-en...). Under the Meetings Strategy, and in accordance with the Bylaws, ICANN69 is scheduled as ICANN's Annual General Meeting for 2020.
Whereas, the ICANN Board is responsible for a decision to change an ICANN public meeting location once such a meeting location has been approved for contracting and announced.
Whereas, in December 2019, a new strain of coronavirus, referred to as COVID-19, emerged and on 11 March 2020 was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a pandemic. Globally, a high number of people either have been or continue to be under some form of a "stay at home" or lock-down order, directed to avoid contact with others except to receive essential services such as medical care or to purchase supplies. Schools and offices are starting to reopen in limited measures, gatherings are still greatly limited and international travel remains largely on pause. We still do not know when international travel will be more fully restored, or if size limitations on gatherings will be appropriately sized and feasible for ICANN's in-person public meetings. When faced with new emergences of COVID-19, even economies that have opened back up are likely to re-impose some form of "stay-at-home" orders to once again control the spread.
Whereas, as an organization with staff and stakeholders across the globe, in January 2020 ICANN org convened an adaptive crisis management team (A-CMT) in order to assist ICANN org in tracking and mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on ICANN's work.
Whereas, ICANN org, through the A-CMT, briefed the Board on the current status of COVID-19 on ICANN's work, including the potential impacts on ICANN69. ICANN org has also consulted with the leadership teams of the various ICANN community structures – our Advisory Committees, Supporting Organizations, Stakeholder Groups and Constituencies – regarding the planning for ICANN69 in the face of the pandemic.
Whereas, the Board recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact other planned opportunities for the ICANN community to further their work in-person, with ICANN67 and ICANN68 both convened as virtual meetings, with all intersessional in-person meetings for groups (including the Nominating Committee, the Security and Stability Advisory Committee and Review Teams, to name a few) canceled, postponed or moved to virtual. As much as possible, ICANN org has been in communication with the ICANN community on these schedule changes.
Whereas, at this time, it does not appear possible or feasible to convene an in-person ICANN69 in Hamburg, Germany as planned.
Whereas, ICANN org successfully moved ICANN67 to a virtual meeting, providing a useful test for the ICANN community on how to plan, schedule and execute an ICANN Public Meeting in a fully virtual setting. ICANN org, working with the ICANN Community, has been planning for the ICANN68 Policy Forum as a virtual meeting, which will see innovation in delivery of real-time translation during a virtual event, and is the first test of an ICANN Public Meeting both planned for and delivered virtually.
Whereas, ICANN org reports to the Board that it continues both its internal operational planning as well as consultation with the community on how to best design an Annual General Meeting that achieves the intended purpose and that supports the community's ongoing policy advice and development work.
Whereas, the Board understands the import of the face-to-face interactions as provided for at ICANN's Public Meetings and looks forward to a return to those interactions as soon as feasible.
Resolved (2020.06.11.01), the Board confirms that ICANN69 shall not proceed as an in-person meeting, and directs the ICANN President and CEO, or his designees, to take all steps necessary to cancel the facilities and arrangements made for an in-person meeting in Hamburg, Germany.
Resolved (2020.06.11.02), the Board directs the ICANN President and CEO, or his designees, to coordinate with the ICANN community on the best way forward for ICANN69 to meet the expected outcomes of an ICANN Annual General Meeting, including the furthering of ICANN policy development and advice work, reporting on milestones and community-agreed priorities for the meeting. The ICANN President and CEO is also directed to continue internal operational planning in order to support the delivery of the ICANN69 Annual General Meeting as appropriate to deliver on those expected outcomes.
Resolved (2020.06.11.03), the Board thanks ICANN org and the ICANN community for their attention to this important issue. The Board also thanks the hosts and venues planned for ICANN69 in Hamburg, Germany for their understanding of the need to cancel the in-person plans for ICANN69. We hope that there is a future time that we will be able to come back and visit your city to host an ICANN Public Meeting.
The Board takes this action today as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, considered a pandemic by the World Health Organization. While the Board recognizes and upholds the value of face-to-face interactions at ICANN's Public Meetings, and the advancement of ICANN community work that happens at these meetings, we cannot move forward with an in-person meeting at the cost of the health of attendees, ICANN org staff members, and the host country.
At the time of the Board decision, the December 2019 COVID-19 outbreak has reached almost all parts of the world, while work on therapeutics and vaccines is proceeding. Each day, there is updated news on the spread of the virus and the worldwide response. Globally, a high number of people either have been or continue to be under some form of a "stay at home" or lock-down order, directed to avoid contact with others except to receive essential services such as medical care or to purchase supplies. Across ICANN org, all offices are closed (except for essential items) and personnel are working from home. Those with school-aged children are expected to care for and, in many cases, take on the education of their children. Many within the ICANN community are experiencing these same impacts. Many may also be dealing with infection amongst their family and friends. The pandemic continues to impact us all.
After the Board's February 2020 decision canceling the in-person component of ICANN67 and directing ICANN org to proceed with a virtual meeting, a virtual ICANN67 was convened. Many valuable lessons were learned from that experience, and ICANN org then proceeded to consult with ICANN's Community Leaders about how to use the lessons from ICANN67 to design future virtual meetings as the pandemic might necessitate, taking into consideration the purpose of each Public Meeting. ICANN68, scheduled for 22-25 June 2020, will be the first test of an ICANN Public Meeting fully planned and executed in a virtual format.
Prior to taking this decision, the Board received briefings from ICANN org, on areas including the impact of COVID-19, conversations with the ICANN community, and operational planning for a distributed meeting.
We thank the ICANN community for its commitment to concluding a successful ICANN67 and ICANN68 in virtual formats. The ICANN community has shown great leadership already in a global move towards virtual collaboration.
The ICANN Board thanks the host committee as well as our community in the European Region who worked tirelessly to host this meeting in Hamburg. We appreciate their understanding and look forward to returning to the European region as soon as we are able.
This action is within ICANN's mission and the public interest, as it is the only path to assure that the work of the ICANN community continues as planned. It is the proper decision on many levels, from not putting ICANN org staff at risk nor risking the need to divert the resources and attention of ICANN org to a response to a COVID-19 outbreak amongst ICANN org or the community; to taking a responsible and proper measure to protect against contributing to the global pandemic. Given the potential inequities in participants' access to international travel and visas across regions, this decision also ensures the broadest participation of attendees by virtual means without the potential distraction of uncertainties posed by hosting an in-person meeting at this time.
This decision has resource implications that are being quantified. However, the resources needed to support an ICANN69 Annual General Meeting as can be appropriately designed are expected to be within or below the resources that have already been allocated for ICANN69 within ICANN's budget. This decision has no impact on the security, stability, or resiliency of the Internet's DNS.
This is an organizational administrative decision that does not require public comment.