Establishing a Community-Owned “.eco” Domain
We guided a global stakeholder input process to help establish “.eco,” a community-operated internet domain that signifies a meaningful environmental commitment.
What if a company’s web address could signal a credible pledge to environmental sustainability? In 2009, Canadian company Big Room decided to turn this idea into reality. They enlisted Meridian to engage the global environmental community to develop a new “.eco” domain as a trustmark of commitment to sustainability.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) makes new generic top-level domain names, such as “.com” or “.org,” available to the public. Communities can gain the rights to own and operate a new domain name—if the group can pass ICANN’s rigorous community application process. For Big Room to win “community” status for the .eco domain, their application needed engagement and support from environmentally-minded stakeholders across the world.
As shepherds of this two-year process, we established a 13-member Stakeholder Council with representatives from sustainability organizations and alliances spread over five continents. Through facilitated meetings, working groups, and numerous interviews, we guided the group to consensus on principles, policies, and operating procedures for .eco’s usage. We also offered strategic advising to Big Room on a regular basis. More than 50 environmental organizations endorsed Big Room’s final .eco application, including Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund, and Ocean Conservancy.
After a multi-year independent evaluation process, ICANN ultimately approved Big Room’s .eco application – a groundbreaking win. Today, organizations, companies, and individuals wishing to use a .eco web address must demonstrate they meet the designation’s stated values for commitment to environmental sustainability. As a result, the .eco domain is protected for the international environmental community’s values-driven use in perpetuity.