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[rpd] Draft Policy Proposals :- Brainstorming the Way forward as we approach AFRINIC-34 Public Policy Meeting.

PDWG Chair dacostadarwin at
Thu Sep 23 16:16:33 UTC 2021

Dear PDWG,

As promised, we are pleased to submit the notes of the Brainstorming session as follows:

Date - Thursday 16 September 2021
Time started - 12h00 UTC
Time ended - 13h00 UTC
Number of attendees - 41
Number of registrants for the webinar - 43

Darwin Da Costa and Vincent Ngundi, PDWG co-chairs, opened the webinar and went through the agenda of the session.
Agenda was as follows :-

Development of draft problem statement for each problem area
Draft high-level solution to each problem area
Identifying volunteer(s) to author a DPP for each problem statement

The PDWG co-chairs highlighted the following elements :-

The way forward for the next Public Policy Meeting was prepared with the support of the Policy Liaison Team.
The next Public Policy Meeting is happening in the second week of November 2021
The timelines have been shared on the mailing list and refinements are possible until the 8th November , before the PPM. The PDWG co-chairs are looking forward to feedback on the agenda points.
As PDWG co-chairs , they have concerns that having conflicting policy proposals may not be the most efficient and effective way for developing policies. They are not trying to change the PDP and the schedule has been proposed. They are trying to coordinate 3 distinct policy proposals that would address the 3 distinct areas of the policy development process.
Clarity of problem statements are required as lack of clarity of problem statements has led to draft policy proposals not articulating the concerns of the community.
The PDP is a core element of African community processes, allows a problem to be broken down into sub-problems and enhance efficiency and effectiveness to develop solutions. Also allows authors to share sub-problems to develop solutions.
The problem areas have been lifted from the current policy proposals and do not include any personal opinions.
Their role as co-chairs is to moderate and guide the PDP in the most effective way.
The PDWG co-chairs emphasized that these are only proposals and don’t seek to amend the PDP in any way. The way forward can happen informally in the background without the intervention of the PDWG co-chairs but the latter have felt that some structure is required and this is an approach that the PDWG can consider.
They have come up with 3 distinct problem areas that may lead to 3 distinct proposals.
Depending on the direction the PDWG wants to take, this may change.

The PDWG co-chairs explained the schedule of events that has been previously shared with the PDWG on the rpd list.

Before opening the floor for discussion, the following questions were raised for the attendees to reflect on :-
Do the members feel that this approach can work?
Can the conflicting proposals proceed as is?

The floor was then opened for discussion.

Highlights of the Response from participants(speakers and comments in chat) were as follows:-

This group attending the webinar cannot be considered a representative fraction of the PDWG.
The Co-chairs are going very fast on the process and that not much/good feedback was received after the mail to RPD mailing list and they scheduled the webinar. In trying to fix the PDP, we cannot violate it.
Suggestion that the PDWG co-chairs summarise all discussions on RPD mailing list , bringing out what’s good for the policy discussion and putting aside what cannot be used as contributions for the policy proposal. Help members to discuss on the main topics that can be used to amount on good way the proposals on the list.
We need Co-chairs to Help PDWG to agree on some Point of convergence of competitive Proposals
This is a good proposal on how to work ahead. Past attempts to have previous co-chairs to organise discussions when there are competing proposals did not work well and some authors did not respond.
This proposal is not trying to change the PDP but encourage cooperation.
PDP has several different parts that can be split in different problems e.g elections, appeals. Some problems cannot be broken into many smaller problems as the relation between the different proposals will become incoherent.
There could be a maximum of 4 or 5 topics.
While it is possible to ask existing authors to withdraw their proposal, it cannot be mandated. There is no legitimate mechanism in the current PDP to whether remove a Draft Policy Proposal without author’s consent in dropping them or rejecting a competing proposal.
There should be three possible states for a proposal after it is discussed at a meeting: 1. Consensus for adoption, 2. No Consensus — Returned for further discussion and update by the author(s). 3. Consensus to reject — A community decision to withdraw the proposal whether the author consents or not.
Main concern is timing - the deadline can be met on some proposals for the upcoming meeting depending on the speed that authors can work/react to discussions on the list.
One of the authors present in the session stated that he is happy to cooperate if the other authors do so.
We should encourage cooperation, but competing proposals are not necessarily a bad thing. If we have valid objections in opposite directions to the two competing proposals, we’ll have double the objections to a single consolidated proposal, which may kill the proposal in the long run which may be a legitimate outcome.
It is more likely that DPPs where autors cooperate in, will reach consensus easier
It is fairly possible outcome that a proposal after under study and exposure to the community is dismissed.
Competing proposals should not become a DDOS attack for a good proposal that is inline with what the community wants.
Informal discussions have to be made public and should not be a decision that will affect the community.
Request that the session is recorded and a transcript be published on the mailing list
Do Co-chairs have support of the Board?
Bad faith and attitude can be impediments.
Main problem of PDP is the problem statement and we need consensus about a clear problem statement.
The proposals if aligned with the mandate of AFRINIC will have an alignment and common ground at some point, so they can be merged.
All those proposals can be integrated into one proposal if all the authors come together
The brainstorming can then be about the points in that proposal.
Webinar could bring more value if more members of the PDWG were present.

Response from the PDWG co-chairs

The co-chairs would like to get the views of those who made time to attend the webinar. Even on rpd mailing list, a handful of people engage.
Purpose of webinar is to brainstorm and it is not a decision making platform .
The existing PDP works but it needs improvements based on the competing proposals that have been received and there is no vacuum at the moment .
It is really important to have the discussions and have them presented in November and the current proposals have been under discussion for a year.
Co-chairs are not trying to change the PDP at all but organise the community in such a way so that we have policy proposals that have a positive impact in internet resource management for AFRICA.
These informal engagements can even happen without the intervention of PDWG co-chairs.
On the issue of competing proposals that tackle a specific issue, there exists the possibility of valid objections that cannot be ignored and contradicting objections that are valid?
It was deliberate that this was called a brainstorming session.
For the co-chairs for them to raise a concern, this means that they are working , even for volunteering positions.
Timing -- There is no vacuum in the existing PDP as it works at the moment.
A short report of the deliberations in this brainstorming session will be shared with the community.
Professional behaviour and decorum are encouraged.
PDP is a bottom-up process and must start with the Community. Cohesive community, thinking in the same direction will help.
There is no right or wrong proposal and a process exists for these proposals. It is upto the Community to decide if the proposal benefits them or not. It is the onus of the PDWG to ensure that nothing wrong gets into the AFRINIC PDP.
Once the report on this webinar is shared, the community may start thinking a different way.
All authors of the proposals should be part of the webinar as well as a representative of the community.
It is a collective responsibility of the PDWG to come together and discuss policy proposals as only ~ 20 persons participate in the discussions on the RPD mailing list and at Public Policy Meetings.

The PDWG co-chairs thanked all the participants for their presence. As way forward:-

A summary of the discussions held in the webinar will be shared on the RPD Mailing list.
Current DPPs will go through the PDP
Reach out to authors to encourage them to voluntarily come together and develop DPPs based on the discussions that happened in the webinar.
Feedback received on rpd list will be reviewed before next step is determined.

A poll was launched , 81% of participants said that the webinar was beneficial , 6% said no, 13% were neutral.

Session was closed at 13h00 UTC.

Thanks for your participation!

Best Regards,
PDWG Co-Chairs.
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