The Global Environmental Community, the Community to be served by Big Room’s application and that would be implicitly targeted by any application for the .ECO top level domain (TLD), is an alliance of diverse, long-established, and internationally recognized environmental institutions with millions of members worldwide, a clear majority of which support this application.
Formal international evidence of the Community dates back to 1948, with the founding of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Community has been organizing for over 60 years with respect to specific events, geographies, and issues through a variety of international alliances like 350.org, the Green Economy Coalition, TckTckTck, and since 1972, the United Nations Environment Programme.
The “eco” label has long been used to identify individuals, organizations, and activities committed to respectful, responsible, and sustainable use of the environment. As this label is widely understood as a representation of association with the Community’s goals and values, and to avoid consumer confusion, it is imperative that policy setting responsibility for the .ECO Community TLD be invested in a representative community member institution that provides stable and ongoing Community input and oversight.
In 2009, Big Room, itself a Certified B Corporation obliged to consider environmental, social and financial interests, launched an international multi-year stakeholder consultation process with the Community on the potential for .ECO to exist as a Community TLD. The process included 7 in-person consultations on 5 continents. Draft policies were published for 3 public comment periods of at least 30 days each.
Key to this process was an international council of community organizations, convened by the Meridian Institute at the request of Big Room, to review and consider the results of these global consultations and to reach consensus on the purpose, principles, and policies for .ECO. The council was governed by a Terms of Reference under which participants engaged. The Terms confirmed involvement on a voluntary basis and without compensation or obligation to support Big Room’s .ECO application.
Since establishment, this international multi-stakeholder community council, made up of leading environmental organizations including WWF International, Greenpeace International, Green Cross International and others, has worked to define the mission, purpose and policies for a .ECO Community TLD that reflects the Community’s interests. The council’s work included 2 in-person meetings (Brussels ⁄ Washington, DC) and more than 20 conference calls between members. In September 2010, the council unanimously adopted a charter for the .ECO Community TLD - the .ECO Policy Consensus. The purpose and principles outlined in the .ECO Policy Consensus define what .ECO will mean as an active expression of the goals, values and interests of the Community. The Consensus has been reviewed and affirmed by the Big Room board of directors.
Consistent with the Community’s history of organizing alliances around issues, in April 2012 the council formalized into the independent, not-for-profit, Dot ECO Global Community Organization (the Organization). The Organization’s mission is to act as the representative membership institution for the .ECO Community TLD, developing and protecting it and the .ECO Policy Consensus for the greater good.
As the .ECO Registry Operator, Big Room will implement the .ECO Policy Consensus under the terms of a contract with the Organization. .ECO will be operated for the benefit of the community in accordance with the commitments and actions below.
The purpose of .ECO is to:
1. Allow members of the Community to more easily identify themselves and other Community members online and to prevent misuse of .ECO domain names that could lead to confusion.
2. Utilize the power of the Internet to foster transparency, information sharing, communication and exchange of ideas to promote environmental goals, interests and values, amongst Community members and those who are exploring that opportunity.
3. Provide a platform for accurate and non-deceptive information and reliable resources to encourage environmental awareness and action on sustainability.
The underlying principles of .ECO are:
1. PRINCIPLE OF TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY:
Specific commitments include:
a) Registrants will sign a Registrant Agreement that includes, at a minimum, commitments to: maintain an accurate .ECO-profile; to update or review that .ECO-profile at least annually; to link from their .ECO website to their .ECO-profile (if the two are separate); to provide accurate contact information to the Registry; and to submit to a review of their .ECO-profile if requested by the Registry.
b) The Registry has confirmed and maintains a contract with the Organization, and will implement all elements therein including the .ECO Policy Consensus registration policies. It will ensure those policies, procedures, and agreements are publicly available, and publish environmental performance metrics and indicators as part of its annual report.
c) The Organization has established and maintains a governance structure as defined by a set of bylaws, and confirmed and implemented a contract with the Registry. It will advise on disputes and complaints as requested by the Registry, and publicly report on policy development activities, including meetings and advice.
2. PRINCIPLE OF INCLUSIVENESS
While there is an existing, delineated, historically significant Global Environmental Community, part of the purpose for .ECO is to promote diversity and inclusivity in order to advance environmental goals, interests and values, particularly in developing countries.
Specific commitments include:
a) The Registry will assist and encourage registrants in registering .ECO domains and participating in the Community, particularly in developing countries and where linguistic, cultural or socio-economic barriers may exist. It will recognize and promote credible environmental standards and⁄or ways of calculating environmental impacts and performance.
b) The Organization is governed by bylaws that set term limits on participation in its governing and advisory bodies and actively identifies and encourages diverse participation and membership.
3. PRINCIPLE OF IMPROVEMENT
Showing improvement over time while recognizing that, due to degrees of variability across sectors and geography, registering a .ECO domain name does not equate to achieving environmental goals, but that continuous improvement towards environmental goals is a key value of the Community.
Specific commitments include:
a) Registrants will update or review their .ECO-profiles at least annually and show demonstrable progress towards environmental goals over time.
b) The Registry will institute an environmental policy for its own operations and require its suppliers and contractors to meet rigorous environmental standards.
c) The Organization will review the Registry’s environmental performance and implementation of .ECO registration policies, recognizing that as environmental goals evolve and progress over time, the policies governing .ECO may also need to evolve. The Organization will review all .ECO registration policies every two years and recommend revisions to the Registry.
In summary, the .ECO purpose and principles are the result of an extensive, independently-mediated public and community consultation process. The purpose and principles are enshrined in the .ECO Policy Consensus, a charter for the .ECO Community TLD that provides Community policy guidance on Naming, Registration, Accountability, and a grant-making foundation. Together, they ensure a .ECO Community TLD created and operated in the public interest and consistent with the Community’s values.