Combining blockchain and climate action

4 minutes read

— Accelerating Nature Based Solutions through Ecosystem Services Currencies in India and Myanmar

Worldview Impact Foundation and EcoFriend World are restoring the cloud forest ecosystems in northeast India and the mangrove forest ecosystems in southwest Myanmar with a target of planting 1 billion trees by 2050. So far 1.5 million trees have been planted in Meghalaya, India as part of the One Citizen One Tree campaign and 6 million trees have been planted in the Delta Region of Myanmar in partnership with Worldview International Foundation, some using tree planting drones that can plant 400,000 trees per day. They are building a cross sector partnership between Governments, NGOs and private sector investors to explore what it will take to plant 1 billion trees, and the role of nature based solutions to certify the environmental outcomes. The successful expansion of the two projects requires further financial incentives. To this end they have been working with Route2 in London to design, develop, and implement a new ecosystem service assessment, evaluation standard and tradeable token, using blockchain distributed ledger technology. This standard will ascertain the annual economic value of ecosystem services delivered by the forests that are restored, which has potential to greatly increase the sustainability of the program and incentivise reforestation and continuous forest stewardship. 

The cross sector blockchain and climate change partnership will be addressing the challenges of total ecosystem collapse from serious land degradation that local indigenous communities living in northeast India and southwest Myanmar are facing. These issues are important given that these often vulnerable communities face food insecurity and lack sufficient resilience to climate change impacts. 

They will use the baseline metrics generated from past IFAD funded projects that were implemented in India and Myanmar to evaluate the effectiveness of this cross sector partnership. They will then use  Route2’s Value2Society impact evaluation model, which delivers unique insights into the total impact of business activities. Route2’s award-winning approach has been successfully used to help a range of large and smaller businesses, working across diverse sectors and geographies. Their industry leading methodology focuses on the economic valuation of impacts, which in turn surfaces the financial consequences of sustainability pursuits. Route’s Value2Society services evaluate the direct and indirect total impact of business operations. The insights distilled shape operating or investment decisions that engender greater business resilience, enhance brand reputation, strengthen market positioning, increase profitability, and improve productivity. With these benefits a business becomes a more attractive proposition to investors, employees, suppliers, partners and customers. All Route2’s Value2Society advisory services are underpinned by their proprietary Total Capital Accounting Framework, which is the first framework to comprehensively quantify and value a business’s total impact.

The successful implementation of mountain ecosystem and coastal ecosystem restoration projects requires financial incentives. To this end they are working with Earthbanc and Route2 in the design, development and implementation of a new ecosystem service assessment and evaluation standard and tradeable token (i.e. Ecosystem Service Coin [ESC]), using blockchain distributed ledger technology. This standard will measure the annual economic value of ecosystem services delivered by both the mountain ecosystems and coastal ecosystems. The value of these services will be translated into digital currency for corporates, institutional investors and consumers to buy and sell. The former (corporates) can buy and hold these ESCs to offset the ecological damage of their economic activities (including greenhouse gas emissions). Through the effective and compensated land management of these ecosystems ESCs will appreciate in value. ESCs will offer competitive return on investment [ROI] and this ROI will provide the missing incentive that will enable the successful expansion of the outlined projects. 

The concrete outcome from this partnership will be a strong collaboration between Earthbanc in Estonia, Route2 in the UK with Worldview Impact, a social enterprise in India that tackles the problem of environmental degradation and loss of livelihoods and with Worldview International Foundation, an NGO in Myanmar working in the Delta Region. Together they want to actively engage the participation of the all concerned stakeholders to build a global alliance with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and its partners who are addressing these big problems. They want to address climate change by restoring degraded mountain- and coastal -ecosystems rapidly on the large scale basis while working with local indigenous communities to rebuild peace, ensure that cloud forests and mangrove forests remain intact while building a robust green economy that the communities can be a part of. The beneficiaries from the outcome this partnership are the vulnerable indigenous communities living in northeast India and southwest Myanmar who have been suffering from the impact of climate change and conflicts over the years. To help prevent future disastrous ecological collapse, reverse the trend and provide significant economic benefits to mountain communities, this collective approach will bring synergetic benefits: 1. Provide better food security with restored and secured breeding habitat 2. Sequestrate CO2 from trees and reduce escalations of climate change 3. Create high value-added livelihood opportunities to disadvantaged indigenous communities by reducing poverty especially among women by raising orchids, collecting NTFPs and bee honey, and providing other new sources of revenue 4. Save lives and improve environmental health for thousands of people via adaptation to climate change 5. Contribute to social and economic development of a peace building process in both target countries. 

The objective of this partnership is building collaboration for the design and development of a business model to enhance the rate, scale and economic viability of ecosystem restoration in affected areas in India and Myanmar, thereby improving and protecting the Natural, Human and Social Capital value of the target ecosystems. It is acknowledged that successful ecosystem restoration requires: Improved rate and efficiency of mapping, planting and monitoring using appropriate technology on the ground land management, administration, education, community engagement and monitoring by local partners; and the development of an ecosystem service assessment and evaluation standard which supports an ecosystem service market place that incentivizes long term economic viability. The partnership will ensure active participation and discussion with all concerned stakeholder on the process for measuring the economic benefit of the ecosystem services generated by ecosystems in the target communities in India and Myanmar.