How to be a member of ICANN stakeholders: We need more (young) people!

Assistant Manager, National Information Infrastructure Enterprise Promotion Association (NIIEPA)
中文翻譯

Continuing my blog on the ICANN APAC-TWNIC Engagement Forum, someone made a counterpoint to my comment about participating in ICANN’s multistakeholder community – I had said as a Forum panelist that becoming a community member is easy, but much more commitment and time are needed to participate meaningfully.

Kenny Huang, TWNIC CEO and a long-time ICANN community member, countered in the session’s Q&A that there is no harm in keeping participation light and easy. He suggested newcomers start with topics that interest them, and encouraged people to look around at other forums such as APNIC, APrIGF, and IETF, whatever attracts them.

I agree that newcomers should be able to have a taste of everything before they decide to sign up for anything serious. I maintain, however, that meaningful participation is critical – not least because it ensures Asia-Pacific (APAC) views are included – and we should therefore strive to deepen our involvement and contribute to the community work. Because the issues are complex, this usually requires a substantial commitment.

Young people, especially those in the APAC region, face tremendous challenges when participating in ICANN for 2 major reasons: the time zone and the language.

English is the working language of ICANN, and it doesn’t help when most people coming from APAC don’t speak English as their native language. Moreover, the benefit of interpretation service is not as prominent for the APAC community because we are such a diverse demography that speaks so many different languages.

On the other hand, the time zone is frequently unfriendly to the APAC participant. I’m not referring to ICANN Meetings which convene in the meeting host’s time zone; I’m talking about working group calls, webinars, and SO/AC/SG/C meetings. This has been a problem for the APAC community: despite repeatedly raising the issue nothing has changed, and we still have to get up in the middle of the night if we want to attend meetings.

Young people are particularly vulnerable to this problem. As young professionals or students, we do not have the flexibility that older community members have over their hours from being retired or senior company executives. In other words, young people do not often have the luxury of coming into work/class late, or even to work at home, because we had a meeting at 3 in the morning.

We won’t be able to fix the time zone problem as long as we don’t have enough people participating in policy work – we need the numbers to ensure that meetings occur at an APAC-friendly time. This will change only when APAC’s representation in the community is predominant enough that our voices carry the same weight as any other region.

I recall as if it was yesterday the feeling of being overwhelmed when I first stepped into the world of ICANN. The ICANN structure is big and confusing, filled with acronyms and jargon. Young faces are not common at the meeting venues. While opportunities from the Fellowship and NextGen programs are great, many of us share the feeling of being lost after our first meeting, not knowing where and how to continue. One group I participate in, Youth4IG, is helping to create a network for the youth community in APAC to connect and help each other out, making sure that we are not alone. We need more young people to participate in ICANN, and I hope you can become one of us.


如何成為ICANN利害關係人的一份子:我們需要更多(年輕)人

接續我上一篇關於ICANN APAC- TWNIC合作交流論壇的文章,我在分享的時候提到成為ICANN社群的一份子很容易,但要達到「有意義」的參與,就需要付出更多心力和時間。在之後的問答時間,有人提出了反對意見。

提出反論的,是長期參與ICANN的TWNIC董事暨執行長黃勝雄。他認為保持輕鬆的參與心態無可厚非,建議新來的人只需從自身關心的議題開始,也可以試著參與其他網路治理討論組織或平臺,如APNIC、APrIGF或IETF等,探索自己最感興趣的議題場域。

在決定深入參與之前,當然應該多方探索嘗試,這我完全贊成。但是,我仍認為有意義、實質參與至關必要。我們必須深度參與、積極投入社群工作,才能確保全球討論充分納入來自亞太地區的觀點。深度參與也代表必須深入了解議題,而這無疑需要付出相當心力。

時差和語言的問題,更是亞太地區年青人參與ICANN時,必須面對的艱鉅挑戰。

ICANN工作上使用英文,而大部分亞太社群人口都非以英文為母語。更甚者,ICANN雖在某些場合會提供翻譯服務,但對文化如此多元、使用語言多達上百種的亞太社群而言,翻譯服務其實不夠實用。

另一方面,亞太參與者還必須面對時差的問題。我說的不是依會議地點當地時區舉行的大型ICANN會議。我說的是工作小組會議、網路說明會,和其他支援組織/諮詢委員會/利害團體(SO/AC/SG/C)的內部會議。這是亞太社群始終難以擺脫的沉痾。我們已經討論這個問題無數次,但時至今日,我們還是必須半夜起床參加各種會議。

年輕人尤其深受時差之苦。年輕的上班族或學生,並不像其他退休或身為公司高層的資深參與者享有彈性的工作時間。直白而言,我們並不能因為前天凌晨3點有個會議,隔天就自己決定晚點到校或上班,甚至直接選擇在家工作。

只要亞太地區參與政策工作的人數仍低迷,我們就無法改變時差帶來的困境。唯有具備人數優勢,我們才有可能左右會議時間的決定。亞太社群必須在ICANN中取得足夠的聲量,我們才能真正發揮影響力,與其他地區社群平起平坐。

我第一次踏入ICANN的世界,在其中暈頭轉向的感覺還歷歷在目。ICANN非常巨大又複雜,每個人嘴上都掛滿各種縮寫和術語。更不用說,會議會場中沒幾個年輕人。雖然有像英才計畫(Fellowship)或下世代計畫(NextGen)等獎助方案,但經歷第一次會議後那種前途茫茫,不知下一步該往哪走的感覺,對年輕人一點都不陌生。

Youth4IG是我個人積極參與的一個團體,我們希望建立一個專屬亞太年輕人的網路,我們可以互相串連幫忙,不再落單無助。我們需要更多年輕人參與ICANN,而我由衷期盼正在閱讀這篇文章的你,可以成為我們的一份子。

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