After opening ICANN’s new engagement office in Singapore, my first opportunity to attend a regional conference and engage with stakeholders was constructive and inspiring.
The Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF) took place from 4-6 September 2013 in Seoul, South Korea as a platform for discussion and collaboration toward advancing our ideals of Internet governance across the region. It was empowering to work alongside Fadi as we unveiled ICANN’s plan to build an Asia Engagement Strategy.
Invoking the Forum’s theme, “Towards a Better Internet: A More Secured, Convenient, Vibrant, Equivalent, and Desirable Internet,” Fadi delivered the keynote address during which he reinforced ICANN’s commitment to the region. Fadi cited the opening of our Singapore hub office, and that we are working to engage and listen to our stakeholders in the region to develop an Asia Pacific Engagement Strategy as examples.
Since we started the Asia Hub, a key preoccupation was to meet and listen to the needs and concerns of our stakeholders. This is still work in progress; but we reported our findings at our workshop on “ICANN engagement with the Asia Pacific Community” at the APrIGF. The time we took to listen to the needs and concerns of the region were very well received. Many stakeholders expressed their appreciation and offered their views as well as help for us to better engage the region, including:
- working with regional organizations in language localization projects, so that the diverse stakeholders in the region can participate in our ICANN processes
- working to partner with existing networks and forums, not only for training, but to contribute to feedback on the ICANN PDP process
- communicating to the region on what ICANN is
- consider holding smaller ICANN meetings within the APAC communities so as to ensure greater participation and the diversity of regional voices
- enhancing government participation through working with our Government Advisory Council (GAC) representatives to advocate for a stronger representation by APAC governments at ICANN meetings
- continue to share our findings regarding our shareholders’ needs and concerns, and to share them with the community. Through this, we can identify common needs and interests and develop collaborative activities. A suggestion was to arrange the feedback we received thematically, and to discuss them at the Bali IGF this October,
Fadi closed the workshop by emphasizing the need for sustainable engagement through tools such as ICANNLabs to build a more inclusive model of engagement.
On the sidelines of the APrIGF, it was inspiring for us to sit and speak with Youth leaders about getting involved in Internet governance. We held an interactive session as a part of the Youth Internet Governance Forum (YIGF), where we introduced ICANN and the multi-stakeholder model to the participants. What was most exciting was to hear participants agree with Fadi on the importance of a one, united and open Internet for the world. They were really engaging, asked thoughtful questions, and were very passionate about the multi-stakeholder model. We hope to further engage participating youth in future ICANN programming and related forums.
The APrIGF in Seoul proved a constructive experience and I’m proud to say ICANN effectively fostered promising dialogue. I look forward to building on this initial engagement as we move forward with our work in the APAC region.