The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the nonprofit organization responsible for administering the Internet‘s system of unique identifiers, including the domain name system, globally. As part of this responsibility, ICANN will soon launch a process that will allow new domain name extensions (like .com or .org) to be created. Hundreds of applications are expected, with anything from “.bank” to “.canon” being added to the Internet.
As part of this process, ICANN has created a new “community-priority” status for extensions that have particular meaning to a community. For communities, the primary benefit of winning “community-priority” status is that the applicant will be required to appoint a representative community organization to monitor how that extension is run on their behalf. Communities must establish and document a consensus on the rationale, purpose, and policies for the extension before ICANN will approve an application as "community-priority."
In June 2009, the Canadian Certified B-Corporation Big Room, Inc., announced its intention to apply for and achieve community-priority status for the extension “.eco” in order to preserve and protect .eco on behalf of the environmental community.
In 2009, to ensure a robust process for building the consensus required by ICANN, Big Room engaged Meridian Institute to facilitate a 13-member Stakeholder Council and mediate a series of regional stakeholder meetings held around the world. This effort also helps Big Room to comply with the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling (ISEAL) Alliance Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards.
The Stakeholder Council includes environmental NGO representatives from around the world, including from Brazil, Canada, India, Kenya, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Big Room formed the Stakeholder Council because they believe the .eco rules must be transparent, accountable, multi-stakeholder-based, and designed for the long-term benefit of the global environmental and sustainability community.
Thus far, Meridian has provided process design and facilitation for the Stakeholder Council and the series of regional meetings. The policies have been drafted for public comment and have gone through several iterations based upon stakeholder feedback. The Council met in September 2010 to make final recommendations on the policies before Big Room prepares a broader outreach and communications strategy through to the ICANN application date.
Next steps for the Stakeholder Council are to gain acceptance and endorsement for the .eco policies and proposition within their own organization and others with whom they are in contact. Meridian will assist in this next step by facilitating an ongoing forum for Stakeholder Council discussion and critical feedback throughout this phase of the project. In addition, Meridian will provide expertise in designing a series of expert interviews and short surveys that will lead toward Big Room’s application for .eco and ensure that the Stakeholder Council is kept abreast of the results.