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Some comments on the current ICANN meeting format

  • To: meeting-comments@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Some comments on the current ICANN meeting format
  • From: Patrick Vande Walle <patrick@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2006 10:50:48 +0100

As the host of the Luxembourg meeting, I will concentrate in this e-mail
on the organizational challenges of the current ICANN meeting format.


While the RFP states that «ICANN will cover the costs of all additional
requests not in the RFP», there is always a grey area as to what exactly
is an additional request. As a result, the last minute requests tend to
make the final bill much larger than originally foreseen. In our case,
this was 20%, which needed to be found *after* the meeting was over,
i.e. when there was no incentive for sponsors any more.

Sponsoring from the ICANN community does not go far beyond the 3
well-known gTLD registries and covers no more than 30-40% of the total
budget, in the most favourable case. This makes it necessary to find
substantial sponsoring outside the ICANN community. Over the last years,
I have noted that these are mainly government agencies wishing to
promote either tourism or their IT industry. The ICANN context does not
represent enough an incentive for local private sector actors to invest
in such a meeting.

While it is true that the attendance of an ICANN meetings is free, it
does have a cost for the atttendees, namely travel and stay. This is a
different business model than other events of this type, like IETF
meetings.  It might be worth investigating the IETF model, which
includes hotel room charges.  In the end , it may prove beneficial  to
both the organizer and the attendees. For the organizer, it would mean
off-loading the logistics to a professional  and  negotiate long-term
contracts with hotels. For the attendees, it would mean  lower hotel
room charges.

Costs to participants are non-negligible, too. Those who cannot travel
on company budget are de-facto eliminated. This has serious consequences
on the global representativeness - civil society being generally


One often overlooked aspect is the participation of attendees from
outside the Northern hemisphere. While we were lucky to have a good
cooperation with the Luxembourg foreign affairs ministry, I can remember
of some cases where visas were not granted. The current visa policies in
Europe and the US makes it difficult for some attendees to be present.
In that sense, regional meetings might help, although the risk that
different regions can no more talk face to face to each other is real.


The format of the current meeting model has to be totally revamped.
There is a real risk of not being able to find enough local hosts and
sponsorship for future meetings if the costs continue to rise. The
global cost of such an event should go above $200k. The RFP should be
regularly updated and more detailed.

More opportunities should be available to sponsors to showcase their
offerings. Good statistics should be available from ICANN as to the
number and profile of participants, etc. This would make it easier to
market the meeting to potential sponsors.

Lots of what is being discussed in global physical meetings could be
done on-line through video f2f meetings, with the beneficial effect that
it would make global meetings shorter. This would reduce the cost and at
the same time allow those who cannot attend physical meetings to

More face to face meetings should happen outside the Northern
hemisphere, to facilitate the participation of non-Americans or

It might be worth investigating the IETF model of meetings, which
includes hotel room charges.  In the end, it may prove beneficial to
both the organizer and the attendees. 

Patrick Vande Walle
ISOC Luxembourg

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