The World Economic Forum is a helpful partner in ICANN’s global stakeholder engagement efforts, convening leaders from business, government and civil society to address global issues. YC Kuek and I represented ICANN at last week’s “Summer Davos” in Dalian China, participating in a number of sessions on ICT sector challenges.
In addition to government ministers from places as diverse as Ireland, Vietnam and Azerbaijan, corporate executives from HTC, Qualcomm, Facebook, Salesforce, BT, Mozilla, Thomson Reuters, Google, Microsoft, CA, Macquarie and LIPPO all were in attendance. The Internet Society is also a regular WEF participant.
I was struck by how many of these leaders were not only aware of ICANN’s work, but also appreciative of its role as steward and coordinator of the Internet’s system of unique identifiers. They were also supportive of ICANN’s increasing international presence and impressed by tools and processes that enhance transparency and foster deeper engagement with stakeholders.
Internet and Internet governance issues are rising to the top of the agenda at WEF. Sessions included: The Partnership for Cyber-resilience, Strengthening Civil Society Partnerships, Seismic Shifts in the Digital Ecosystem and Protecting the Digital Economy. More information, and content from the public sessions can be found here.
Of course many of the concerns raised (privacy, spam, content, neutrality, etc.) fall outside ICANN’s remit. We did not opine on these topics, but were frequently asked to explain in detail how ICANN’s multistakeholder model works to coordinate Internet naming and addressing resources – both what works well and what is hard to accomplish. This led some to explore whether similar models could be deployed to address contentious issues.
Government representatives complained of conflicting guidance on how (or whether) to react to serve their public’s interests. Business leaders, on the other hand, voiced alarm at a trend toward regulatory fragmentation along national and regional borders.
All in all, we worked to raise awareness of the multistakeholder model generally and of ICANN’s unique role in the Internet ecosystem specifically. Given the appreciative reception we received, I believe we can be very proud of the ICANN model.
VP, Stakeholder Engagement
North America and Global Business