Hisham Ibrahim

Looking Back at 2023 - An External Engagement and Community Retrospective

Hisham Ibrahim

19 min read


We reflect on progress made in 2023 in all our community and engagement efforts at the RIPE NCC, as measured against the objectives we set for ourselves at the start of the year.

In our role as secretariat for the RIPE community, we serve as trusted steward of the open, inclusive, and collaborative Internet model. Operating across more than 70 countries in our service region, our primary focus is for everyone in the RIPE community to receive support from their Network Coordination Centre.

At the beginning of the year, my team and I outlined three objectives that tie back to relevant strategic goals from the RIPE NCC strategy:


Our commitment to fostering trust, growth and synergy within the RIPE community remains at the core of our mission. These objectives form the base for our approach to activity planning and budgeting in External Engagement and Community. To carry out these activities, we have a dedicated group of under 50 individuals supported by a budget slightly exceeding 9 million euro.

Objective 1: Supporting an open, inclusive and engaged RIPE community

KR1: Lowering barriers to community engagement

We deeply value the diverse nature of our community and are committed to fostering inclusion and participation from all its various groups. We do this by lowering barriers that prevent participation, particularly those that affect underrepresented groups in the community.

Organising engagements is a delicate balancing act for the RIPE NCC, where we strive to address accessibility, safety, and representation within the wider logistics of event organisation. We understand that achieving absolute inclusivity is an aspirational goal.

True inclusivity goes beyond rhetoric and requires tangible actions and we are lowering barriers through a series of initiatives:

RIPE Fellowship
The RIPE Fellowship aims to remove the financial barrier of attending RIPE Meetings by funding a full-week meeting ticket, travel and accommodation for selected candidates from the RIPE NCC service region.

Strengthening academic outreach
The need to have strong, long-lasting partnerships between the Internet research and RIPE community has always been clear. We continue to build and maintain these partnerships by being an active part of the research world through our RIPE Academic Cooperation Initiative (RACI). We fund a full-week meeting ticket, travel and accommodation for selected applicants from the RIPE NCC service region.

We also organise a reception for academics and National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) to provide space for academics to connect with each other and engage in discussions on topics of interest.

We are happy to see the return of many RIPE community members who have directly benefited from either RACI or the RIPE Fellowship over the years.

  • RIPE 86: 15 Fellows | 8 RACI | 6 free student tickets
  • RIPE 87: 6 Fellows | 6 RACI | 7 free student tickets

In 2023, the RIPE NCC community project fund awarded 6 projects out of 56 applicants who applied from 26 countries. The RIPE NCC provides up to €250,000 per year to support projects like these which bring value to the operation, resilience and sustainability of the Internet.

Promoting accessibility
Stenography has proven to be an invaluable resource at RIPE Meetings, enhancing the experience for many participants and promoting a more inclusive atmosphere. With the launch of our new website we are also making progress on meeting Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards.

Securing an accessible hotel in Rome for RIPE 87 posed challenges, and despite our best efforts, we faced limitations in finding a venue that fully aligned with our commitment to inclusivity. We want to assure our community that the pursuit of accessibility remains a top priority for us at the RIPE NCC and going forward, we will be communicating more accessibility details for upcoming RIPE meetings in advance.

Advancing gender inclusivity
We chose to focus specifically on female participation as a key metric in 2023. Collecting metrics helps us quantify how we are performing and understand how we can do better.

At RIPE 86, held in Rotterdam, onsite female participation was around 18%. Female speakers at Plenary and Working Group (WG) sessions represented approximately 27% of the total speakers, reflecting a slight increase from the previous RIPE 85 meeting held in Belgrade. However, the number of female participants among newcomers was 3% lower in the Rotterdam meeting compared to Belgrade.

Identifying and addressing such nuanced aspects is vital for our ongoing efforts to create an inclusive environment for all community members. More insights and metrics were shared during the diversity session at RIPE 87.

Supporting the community code of conduct
The RIPE Code of Conduct is essential for fostering a safe, inclusive, and positive environment within the RIPE community. It sets clear expectations, addresses unacceptable behaviour, and reflects the commitment to diversity and respect, ensuring a collaborative space where all participants can engage with confidence and trust. This past year, we have supported the RIPE Code of Conduct team with administrative support which has now been in place for both RIPE 86 and RIPE 87.

KR2: Improving engagement by meeting members where they are

We continue to hold successful regional and national meetings outside of Europe, where RIPE Meetings tend to be held. Throughout the year, we organised the South East Europe meeting (SEE11) in Split, Croatia, the Central Asian Peering and Interconnection Forum (CAPIF 2) in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the Middle East Network Operator Group and Peering Forum (MENOG 23) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and the RIPE NCC days in Sofia, Bulgaria, bringing together hundreds of technical community members, government officials, and NCC members.

Recognising the environmental and logistical challenges associated with travel across the service region, we believe we have struck a good balance between robust regional and national engagement and minimising the necessity for community members to undertake extensive travel. At each of these events, we actively engaged with a substantial number of community members, who might not have had the opportunity to engage otherwise or would have had to travel to the RIPE meetings for such interactions.

Complementing our regional and national initiatives, we continue to offer assistance to all Network Operators Groups (NOGs) in our service region that seek our support, offering financial aid and RIPE NCC experts as speakers to share insights on specific subjects.

We also recognise language as a barrier to engagement which is why the RIPE NCC has developed a translation platform and made the RIPE NCC survey available in Arabic, Farsi, French, Italian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Turkish and Ukrainian. We also provided simultaneous translation to Russian and Farsi during CAPIF meetings.

KR3: Increase participation by leveraging online platforms

We recognise that community members can and want to connect and engage with each other online, which requires extending our commitment beyond in-person engagements. In 2023, this included introducing RIPE Meeting hubs and the promotion of RIPE NCC Forum.

RIPE Meetings Local Hubs
With an initial focus on establishing one local hub at RIPE 86,we exceeded expectations and 6 local hubs were organised in our service region: UK, Netherlands, Yemen, Belgium, Estonia, and Ukraine. These local hubs provide unique opportunities for roughly 50 community members (across all hubs) to come together, fostering a sense of camaraderie and shared engagement.

Community Online Engagements
We have organised a total of 23 Open Houses in 2023 which are free to attend online. 12 were country-focused events, tactically reaching out to countries not visited during the year. While the remaining 11 Open Houses were themed, addressing a range of topics relevant to the entire community and beyond, providing a platform for comprehensive discussions and knowledge exchange.

RIPE Labs witnessed a wealth of knowledge sharing, with 124 articles published— half of which were authored by community members. We also published 6 new RIPE Labs podcasts in 2023, featuring in-depth interviews.

The RIPE NCC Forum saw increased participation in 2023 with 45.5K views and 424 posts.

We also began the project to launch the new RIPE NCC website, which went live in January 2024. This will enable members to find up-to-date information more easily and provide the RIPE community with a dedicated space on the site.

KR4: Elevate experience to excellence

Monitoring the experience for our community members at RIPE NCC meetings is imperative for the success of future meetings. If you can't measure it, you can’t improve it. Using Net Promoter Scores (NPS) as a metric, we strive for excellence, aiming for scores higher than 50 out of a possible -100 to 100.

Across the four meetings tracked in 2023, three of them scored an “Excellent > 50”, including CAPIF 2 (NPS 70 ranked by 47 participants), MENOG 23 (NPS 78 ranked by 14 participants) and RIPE 87 (NPS 55 ranked by 76 participants). RIPE 86 fell short by one point (NPS score 49 ranked by 63 participants).

We also ran the RIPE NCC member survey by Survey Matters. 3,899 people completed the survey and shared their input on the RIPE NCC's services and activities. This provided us with valuable feedback on our strategic direction for the upcoming years and ways to assist our core audiences in doing our work.

We have also actively carried out usability testing during a variety of online and in-person engagements. These tests ensure that our services are user-friendly, effective, and meet the needs and expectations of its intended users.

KR5: Improve value-based budgeting

We have managed to reduce our total spending in External Engagement and Community by 850kEUR. The reduction came as a result of mid-year predictions that the RIPE NCC might fall 2 million euro short from collecting our full budgeted income for the year. The bulk of the reduction came out of the outreach, travel and consultancy budgets—resulting in less national engagements than originally planned at the beginning of the year.

The two RIPE meetings cost around 1.46 million euro—running slightly over budget. We managed to generate roughly 250kEUR in meeting fees, falling short of the expected 300kEUR budgeted as income.

We were able to generate roughly 450kEUR in sponsorship income and in-kind partnerships, half of which was generated to support our meetings and the other half towards our data services. This was a commendable achievement in 2023, but still did not meet the budgeted target of 500kEUR. The team has been tasked to come back with improvements to our sponsorship and partnership plans .

We appreciate the ongoing support from community members who are keen to continue our engagements and data services. Your continued support is instrumental in growing the RIPE NCC community. I plan on publishing a RIPE Labs article soon which goes into more detail on the evolving trends of RIPE Meetings over time.

Objective 2: Enhance skills and operational awareness through learning and development services

At the heart of our learning and development programmes lies the profound belief that knowledge empowers change.

KR1: Increase participation by leveraging online platforms

There are now over 100 e-learning modules available on the RIPE NCC Academy which is our free-to-use online platform providing Internet networking professionals and students worldwide with expert knowledge.


We offer a diverse range of courses such as IPv6 fundamentals as well the RIPE Database, and specialised courses on Security for both IPv6 and BGP. We try to cater to a broad audience with varying expertise levels. Each of these courses comes with a certification pathway—RIPE NCC Certified Professionals. This certification not only validates the knowledge learnt but also provides a verifiable digital badge, enhancing professional recognition within the community.

Beyond certifications, our e-learning platform also includes courses without certifications, such as microlearning modules, the highly popular Internet Governance course, and newly developed content focusing on the RIPE community structure and its working groups.

In 2023, our goal was to see 5,000 modules completed in each of the four courses with examinations. Three of the courses exceeded this target, showcasing the effectiveness and popularity of our e-learning platform. The RIPE Database course saw an impressive 10,000 completed modules, the BGP Security course achieved 7,500, and the two IPv6 courses reached a combined 15,000.

It is worth noting that the expert IPv6 Security course, designed for a more advanced audience, naturally garnered fewer module completions than the entry-level IPv6 fundamentals course—IPv6 security 3,500 completions and IPv6 fundamentals 11,500 completions. We also had 1203 exam attempts, which resulted in 838 successful certifications across all courses.

KR2: Elevate experience to excellence

In 2023, the key focus of our curriculum development team was to focus on quality rather than production. Learners can rate each module, providing valuable insights into the perceived quality of the content. The impressive average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars was a positive response.

We also conduct assessment interviews, actively seeking input from RIPE NCC members and the community. This ensures that the content remains relevant, addressing the diverse needs of learners and contributing to the ongoing success of online learning initiatives.

We use the same NPS methodology to monitor and enhance the quality of experience across our various learning and development experiences. Our in-person workshops have received an impressive score of NPS 85 ranked by 409 participants, indicating that people consider their in-person workshops to be “world class”.

The RIPE NCC academy scored NPS 65 ranked by 275 participants and our learning and development webinars scored NPS 66 ranked by 178 participants and our new certification platform scored a NPS 50, ranked by 178 participants indicating that people considered them “excellent”

KR3: Improve value-based budgeting

In 2023, we strived to strike a balance between service quality and implementing cost-efficient planning.

Over the past two years, the learning and development team managed to decrease their budget by 800k (from 2.6 million euro to 1.8 million euro). To do this, they followed a data-driven approach, with cost analyses and adjustments based on learner feedback.

KR4: Contribute to the increase of IPv6 and RPKI uptake in the region

At the heart of our learning and development programmes lies the profound belief that knowledge empowers change and we aim to contribute substantially to the broader goal of increasing deployment numbers for technologies like IPv6 and RPKI.

In 2023 we saw an increase in uptake in the number of Route Origin Authorizations (ROAs) in our service region (IPv4 from 59% to 64% and IPv6 from 36.6% to 37.6%).

Objective 3: Strengthen Internet coordination, collaboration, and governance through engagement and insight production

KR1: Robust reporting standards and practices to proactively demonstrate compliance

We operate under transparent organisational structures and implement corporate governance best practices. This includes producing quarterly sanctions transparency reports, which provides data on how RIPE NCC members, End Users and legacy resource holders are affected by sanctions, while respecting their confidentiality and privacy.

We also publish annual “Law Enforcement Agency Requests” reports. The RIPE NCC receives information requests from Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and provides available information. The RIPE NCC does not provide any confidential or private information to LEAs without a court order or other legally enforceable order or request under Dutch law.

In our annual report, we also publish our GDPR compliance as well as our completed arbitration cases.

We also write RIPE Labs articles that provide a brief overview of the most pertinent digital policies for the RIPE community currently being proposed, debated and implemented in the European Union.

It’s important that we proactively demonstrate compliance, and we will continue to evolve our reporting mechanisms to meet the dynamic needs of our members and the evolving regulatory landscape.

KR2: All RIPE NCC members receive full services without violating any European Union sanctions

In 2023, we successfully removed sanctions-related restrictions from 169 RIPE NCC members and End Users, allowing them to regain full access to our services. The pivotal factor behind this was the European Union’s introduction of an exemption in its sixth package of Russian sanctions in 2022 and the official confirmation in 2023 from the Dutch authorities affirming that the exemption indeed applies to us.
In 2024, we will therefore continue to investigate the possibility of a blanket exemption from the European Union sanctions regulation for Internet number resources.

KR3: Position the NCC as a key provider of valuable insights in 10 countries through generating insights and organising engaging events centred around our tools and services

The RIPE NCC has been working for years to be recognised as a centre of excellence for data, measurements and tools that provide insight on the Internet and its operations. To accomplish this the External Engagement and Community teams depend on the development of useful, insightful “payloads” and innovating effective “delivery mechanisms”. Payload development focuses on creating valuable knowledge assets, while its delivery mechanisms ensure that these insights reach diverse audiences through a variety of channels and events.

  • Insights and Reports: The organisation is dedicated to crafting insightful reports that not only capture the current state of Internet affairs but also provide foresight into possible future trends and developments. This includes the RIPE NCC Country Reports that provide insights into the unique national policies, peering arrangements between various providers, geographical and economic challenges, and many other factors that play a role in shaping a country's Internet landscape. The RIPE NCC has produced 2 country reports this year covering Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Turkey. We have also funded an independent research on the “Impact of sanctions on the Internet”.

  • Another powerful tool for insight the technical community employs regularly is the development of Best Current Operational Practices. The RIPE NCC has provided administration support for the DNS Task Force and Warzone BCOP this last year.

KR4: Maintain strong relationships with 30 countries in our region through consistent communication, collaboration, and proactive engagement

We organise Roundtables share Internet collaboration updates with governments, regulators and industry partners. in 2023 we held these Roundtables in Belgium, South East Europe (Croatia and Montenegro) and the Middle East (United Arab Emirates). We also host a large number of bilateral meetings, engaging directly with policymakers and stakeholders on matters related to Internet development, Internet coordination and Internet governance.

Additionally, our national events like RIPE NCC Days in Bulgaria, Internet Measurements Days in Kyrgyzstan and Moldova, regional forums such as SEE, CAPIF, and MENOG exemplify our commitment to building collaborations with diverse technical communities, governmental bodies, and standards organisations.

KR5: Enhanced support to the joint Internet number registry

The Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) are an important part of the Internet ecosystem. For 30 years, we have ensured the uniqueness of Internet number resources allocated globally. This system has been hugely successful, and it has proven to be robust and resilient regardless of changes surrounding it.

The key to the success and robustness of the Internet Number Registry system has been its ability to bring together people, organisations and communities to reach consensus on the policies that determine how the Internet works and how resources are managed and allocated.

The RIRs provide neutral platforms for their communities to come together to develop policies that will work for the regions that they serve. And just as the RIRs ensure the uniqueness of the addresses they allocate, the overall Internet Number Registry system works to accommodate the unique political, legal, cultural and social realities of the regions it serves. Accommodating this diversity within one global system is a major achievement we should all be proud of, and this system is one we will always defend.

Here’s to 2023!!

As we reflect on the accomplishments and strides made in 2023, it is evident that it has been a remarkable year for the RIPE NCC community. With a steadfast commitment to openness, inclusivity, and collaboration, we successfully lowered barriers to engagement, expanded learning opportunities, and strengthened coordination for valuable insights into Internet operations. The resilience and dedication of our community members, coupled with the tireless efforts of the RIPE NCC team, have made 2023 a year to celebrate. As we embark on the journey into 2024, we carry with us the lessons learned, the successes achieved, and the collective aspiration to accomplish even more, fostering and continuing to play our role in sustaining the Internet commons.


You may also like

View more

About the author

Hisham Ibrahim Based in Dubai, UAE

Hisham Ibrahim is the Chief Community Officer at the RIPE NCC. He leads the RIPE NCC's engagement efforts to foster a dynamic, inclusive RIPE community. He is responsible for engagement with RIPE NCC members, the RIPE community, Internet governance and training services. Hisham is active on several committees in various Network Operator Groups (NOGs), peering forums, IPv6 task forces and forums across three continents.

Comments 0