Under normal circumstances ICANN holds three public face to face meetings per year. This year, as we all know, is not a normal year and the circumstances are anything but normal.
So I sincerely doubt anyone will be surprised that the next ICANN meeting will not be held “in person” but solely online.
ICANN’s Board met yesterday and made the decision that many had been expecting for several weeks.
When the meeting in Mexico was cancelled the decision was taken at relatively short notice, which meant that the schedule had already been finalised. So the pivot to virtual only meant that the original in person schedule was adapted in a very short period of time. The end result of that was a heavily curtailed schedule, though that also raises the question as to whether as many of the sessions really needed to be held in person. There’s a strong argument to move many of them to other times of the year when they can easily be delivered as a webinar.
And it looks like the next meeting will be using a different format.
This time round, however, there’s a couple of months to prepare and they also seem to be taking the more pragmatic approach of holding a slimmed down meeting which will be accompanied by other activities:
the Community Leaders have indicated general support for a flexible, modified virtual meeting format that focuses on cross-community dialogues on key policy topics, supplemented by a program of topical webinars and regular online working meetings scheduled around the key sessions.source ICANN Board resolutions
It’s not clear yet how many sessions will be held over the period originally slated for the meeting or which timezone they’ll be held in.
Last time round ICANN staff were able to run the meeting from their main offices in Los Angeles, but with the travel restrictions and stay at home orders now in place that won’t be a viable option.
RIPE’s upcoming meeting will also be slimmed down and virtual as I mentioned earlier.
ICANN had already cancelled the GDD Summit which was scheduled for Paris in June. The only meeting that is left on the calendar at this point is the AGM which is meant to be held in Hamburg at the end of October. Its future could also be in doubt, but it’s far too early for anyone to be taking those decisions.