When I was first invited to join the Internet community as an ICANN staffer in 2005 I knew very little about the social and technical history of the Internet. I was enjoying my time as a UN staffer in Geneva working on what was to become the ESG movement. And yet, the opportunity to be a part of the Internet’s ongoing history was exciting. It was certainly more dynamic than the UN, which was still operating largely in the era of fax machines.
So, I asked a friend who knew about these things what he thought of ICANN. His response was to laugh and say “UN politics is the kiddie pool compared to ICANN”. So that of course helped convince me it was the right move.
Being thrown into the deep end of a new technical community was formative. I wanted to learn about people and about myself. The Internet community helped tremendously with both. I am deeply grateful to continue to be a part of it.
I learned humility and respect for technical leadership, especially when applied internationally in contentious environments. I learned how I could help leaders by bridging between technical and political priorities to chart new courses. And I learned how to lead, both in policy and business, by creating the .eco top-level domain in partnership with the environmental community.
There are so many communities out there filled with people working together to quietly build a better world. For me, one of life’s great pleasures is getting to know them.
So, when I met Jessy Kate Schingler and Chelsea Robinson early last year, I was almost immediately excited about their work on behalf of the Lunar community. Open Lunar has a truly inspiring team of experts from around the world who have chosen to spend their time on something most people don’t think about that is incredibly important: humanity's renewed foray into exploring another world, our Moon, and how this will inspire us all towards greater scientific, technological, political and social achievement.
Now is not the easiest time to do this. Terms like polycrisis, deglobalization and fragmentation abound. We are striving to recover from a global pandemic, address climate change, and understand the differences between powerful nations. It is so easy to fall into cynicism.
And yet, as one of the founders of the ESG movement, I have been privileged to witness the transformational power of small teams in the right place at the right time. This is either a curse or a blessing, depending on how I feel on the day, as it comes with the realization that since we can all really make a difference, it is also our responsibility to try.
I believe that the Open Lunar Foundation is one of those small teams in the right place at the right time. With consistent support and a deep network, Open Lunar has the potential to drive the creation of an approach to Lunar settlement that puts stewardship first.
We know what this looks like. Humanity has not always been successful in safeguarding our natural resources or at preserving our freedoms, but we are learning.
This year, UN member states agreed on a treaty to protect the high seas, an area covering almost two-thirds of the ocean that lies outside national boundaries. This agreement provides a legal framework for establishing marine protected areas that will help safeguard the ocean's genetic resources.
Even in the face of a severe conflict in the Ukraine, the Internet has avoided becoming a ‘pawn of geopolitics’. Management of Internet infrastructure remains apolitical and sanctions that disrupt Internet access and use have been avoided.
These examples can give us hope. Hope that even in the face of what seems like intractable problems, there are always alternatives. Footprints we can all be proud of.
I am looking forward to supporting the Space and Lunar Community to develop these footprints as Executive Director of Open Lunar Foundation. I know I have a lot to learn about this community, and I look forward to doing so as we seek to create lunar stewardship together.