[AFRI-Discuss] Happy Holidays and Thank You!

Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond ocl at gih.com
Mon Dec 30 16:08:46 UTC 2013

Dear members, staff, and friends,

as we near the end of the calendar year, the traditional holiday season
allows us to take a week where we can reflect on this year's past
challenges and the ones we have ahead of us.

Looking back at the year, I am really delighted with the advances this
community has made. We now have active working groups with a very
diverse membership. Some people take part in one or two working groups,
or take part in regional activities, and they bring in the valuable
diversity of input that is needed in a geographically balanced,
bottom-up multi-stakeholder system. Others promote this community by
performing outreach in fora outside of ICANN. Others work behind the
scenes designing courses and capacity building for newcomers and for
those members who are not yet taking an active part in this community.
Some are very active in enhancing their RALO's capability at helping
their members with understanding and taking part in ICANN processes.
Some people are active in GNSO working groups. I could go on for a long
time to explain all of the activities of this community. As ALAC Chair,
I try to keep aware of all of the work that our members do for this
community, but occasionally I am surprised by people who are taking part
in an ICANN process but have not directly "advertised it" - such is the
humbleness of some people in our community.

When interacting with the Board and in other fora, I often receive
congratulations from people who tell me that they are so pleased that
At-Large has matured over the years. They are so pleased with the
quality of the Statements that we draft and send to them. I tell them
that this would not be possible without the great Team that I have on
the ALAC and in the RALOs. So I wanted to thank you for the work you are
doing as volunteers. It is truly inspirational to a lot of people in ICANN.

Next year is about to arrive and there are a lot more challenges coming
up. Our work in Policy Development will continue to grow as we now need
to expand our competencies beyond commenting on ICANN processes but also
in Internet Governance as a whole and the defense of the
multi-stakeholder model as practised in ICANN. I have concerns that a
few people have done the majority of the work in "holding the pen" when
drafting Statements - so I look forward to new volunteers adding to the
list of writers. Remember, you could co-draft Statements and you do not
need to be an ALAC member to be a pen-holder. Policy work is very
important to improve ICANN as a whole and I am thankful that many in our
community care enough to take the time to propose constructive comments
to improve ICANN's processes.
On Organisation building, there is a lot of ongoing work in Capacity
Building. This is an integral part of building our community. Outreach
brings more people and organisations in At-Large to share the workload
among more people and to reach more parts of the world and more diverse
communities. In-reach makes sure that our At-Large Structures are more
actively involved. However, after three years as ALAC Chair, I am still
not satisfied that we have done enough to help engage our At-Large
Thankfully this year we will have the second ever At-Large Summit (ATLAS
II) which will take place in London in June 2014. This is an opportunity
for every At-Large Structure named delegate to experience an ICANN
meeting but also to learn about the bottom-up multi-stakeholder process
of governance. It is the opportunity for participants to meet face to
face and discuss the challenges facing ICANN and this community. The
Summit is being entirely prepared by At-Large Structures, for At-Large
Structures. It is vital that our Capacity building programs continue to
expand since without knowledge, it would be impossible for At-Large
Structure representatives to engage more in policy work. Capacity
building is the first step to involvement of Internet end users at all
levels of policy - please make sure you make use of the ATLAS II
opportunity to enhance your knowledge!
With efforts on the way to make ICANN more accountable after the end of
the second round of Accountability & Transparency Review (ATRT 2), it is
also important to recognise that our community is taking steps to make
the ALAC and At-Large more accountable. Whilst I am delighted to see a
significant number of organizations having signed up as At-Large
Structures, it is equally as important for our RALOs to check on the
existence of their members and to report back to the ALAC if an
organisation's status has changed. Equally, ALAC members, selected by
their RALOs and by the Nominating Committee, should be effective in
their position. Non participation is to let down the community that has
chosen them to assume this position and puts an unfair workload on other
ALAC representatives from the region. As ALAC Chair, I am therefore
delighted to see that our community is looking at Metrics to more easily
identify matters which need to be improved. These are all small but
significant steps to make our community more effective and more
answerable to Internet end users and to therefore continue to improve
its legitimacy when bringing input into the ICANN processes.

Our bottom-up multi-stakeholder model is not perfect and still needs
much improvement but it is a work in progress! I am proud to be able to
work with you all in what I consider to be a cutting-edge experiment in
bottom-up governance. I am proud that so many of us are actively trying
to make the model work, to find its limits and shortfalls, but also to
find its force and its opportunities. Some days, the model works beyond
my expectations - what a great surprise! Some days it fails miserably
and we are then able to learn from our mistakes. You are pioneers and
just being able to work with all of you has been an immensely rich
experience. It is so unique, I don't believe there is any other process
like it out there.

And for this, I thank you all, volunteers and staff, and I send you my
Best Wishes for the Holiday Season and for the New Year 2014. Prepare
for an exciting year. Prepare for a lot of work. Prepare for a lot of
rewards. Expect the unexpected, but never give up.

Olivier MJ Crépin-Leblond
ALAC Chair

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