The 1st Latin American & Caribbean DNS Forum was held on 15 November 2013, before the start of the ICANN Buenos Aires meeting. Coordinated by many of the region’s leading technological development and capacity building organizations, the day long event explored the opportunities and challenges for Latin America brought on by changes in the Internet landscape, including the introduction of new gTLDs such as .LAT, .NGO and others.

The Forum addressed DNS from an industry perspective; the “divides,” both in terms of digital access, as well as participation in global IG forums; and security issues for the region’s DNS players. Critical distinctions were proposed in terms of the blurring of DNS issues with other Internet aspects, which reflects the complex ecosystem of players, technologies and social engineering. Further, the region needs to address sustainable business models and an enhanced awareness of the opportunities and challenges that are at stake with the new gTLDs. Likewise, the cooperation challenge was presented as a key factor to deal with cyber-security and to develop bridges to promote the importance of an open, global Internet.

A key theme throughout the discussions was the importance of “comunidad” (community) in Latin America and the Caribbean. As a number of panelists noted, the region has some real advantages that can be leveraged to speed adoption of technologies and positions: relatively few but broadly shared languages and cultures facilitate a sense of common experience. While it’s clear that there are significant economic and social challenges, this sense of commonality has energized initiatives like ICANN’s LAC Strategy.

An example of the potential dividends of comunidad is the role that DNS service providers play in facilitating communication. The close working relationship many ccTLD operators have with their respective governments makes them a natural bridge to communicate the needs and expectations of end users to policymakers. Likewise, the closeness of the tech community has been crucial in the development of programs and distribution of limited resources to better serve the public interest. Similarly, regional organizations like LACTLD and lacnic provide their members a forum to address common concerns and identify best practices. These relationships also extend to entities like the Internet Society and ICANN’s Not-for-Profit Operational Concerns Constituency that operate with a global perspective, providing further opportunities to share experiences and develop programs to meet users’ needs.

Touching on topics ranging from cybersecurity to bridging the digital divide to the future of the Internet in Latin America, the regional leaders agreed: with broader participation by private enterprises, technology providers, and civil society, the future for economic and social development in the region facilitated by the internet is a bright one. As one speaker summarized, “Its up to us to be visible in policy and in the marketplace.”

Thank you to all of the event’s sponsors for contributing to this article.