ICANN 46 began with another inspiring Opening Ceremony, which featured welcome speeches from President/CEO Fadi Chehadé and Madam Hu Qiheng, the President of the China Internet Society.
Chehadé expressed excitement about moving forward as a more agile ICANN, and made a surprise announcement revealing the swiftness already affecting operations – new ICANN hubs have already opened in Singapore and Istanbul, fulfilling a bold commitment made at the Toronto meeting in October.
The Beijing attendance marks the largest ICANN assembly in its 15-year history, with over 2,600 delegates taking part in the weeklong conference. This influx of participation will benefit ICANN, allowing more voices to contribute to policy discussion. Chehadé extolled the uniqueness and value of the multi-stakeholder, bottom-up process, and discussed the management tools he is developing to ensure this ICANN governance model can thrive. These will include more openness and transparency around the goals and projects of ICANN staff.
Chehadé discussed the vibrancy of the local Beijing setting, and importance of engaging with China for the future of Internet development. “Engagement with China is not merely an option, we simply must engage at every level or we will lose our legitimacy. This is part of our effort to embrace the world.”
The first local ICANN engagement center will open in Beijing, part of a new initiative to make multi-stakeholderism more accessible to all. The announcement was enthusiastically received by Chinese Internet leaders, including China Internet Society President Madam Hu Qiheng. “Our Internet future will now be brilliant,” she said. “This is a bridge for ICANN and China and it will lead to greater expansion of Internet development.”
The evolving agility of tools like myICANN.org will continue to add transparency to ICANN processes, and Chehadé encouraged Beijing attendees to engage with a new video called “Our Season to Evolve.”
It was evident that the ICANN staff has been working around the clock to push forward new initiatives and the organization as a whole. Delegates were happy to reengage after 6 months between meetings, and look forward to more progress before ICANN 47.
Photos courtesy of Glenn McKnight.