This week, Green.Org had the opportunity to connect with Sara Johnstone of Regen Network, a company building a platform to define the value of natural resources, reward land stewards, and promote regenerative agriculture through ecological agreements.
As the Chief Operating Officer at Regen Network Development, Sara runs operations and oversees finance, legal, HR, and marketing. With a background in hospitality, the sharing economy, and climate tech, Sara has dedicated her 10+ year career helping early stage ventures scale. She became involved in blockchain in 2017 with a project called NuMundo, a network of “impact centers” and transformational experiences facilitating personal transformation and accelerating the development of regenerative living centers. Sara’s career is inspired by her passion for climate change, regenerative finance, permaculture, and organic farming; her work is complemented by her studies in Regenerative Business, the Context Institute, the Solarpunk movement, and alternative communities movement.
In this interview, Sara offers valuable insight into the emerging market of natural capital. Read on to gain perspective on how Regen Network is building a platform for a thriving future.
Tell us a little bit about the history of Regen Network:
Two of Regen Network’s co-founders also began Terra Genesis International to work with landowners around ecological regeneration and agriculture. The company helped connect large brands like MegaFoods and Applegate in the natural products and food & beverage industry to sourcing from regenerative supply chain land owners. At some point, the founders became a bit disillusioned because they realized consumers couldn’t tell the difference between companies that made statements claiming to be regenerative and those that actually were sourcing regeneratively. That’s how Regen Network was born.
Regen Network was born with an intention to build the infrastructure and network that enables verification of ecological claims, data, and agreements.
Our aim is to be the origination point for the highest-quality living carbon and biodiversity credits in the world. Regen Network is not only a platform but a global community; it is a group of “regenerates”: scientists, technologists, permaculturists, Crypto-enthusiasts, and land stewards all committed to planetary regeneration. Regen Network’s community is co-creating a decentralized approach to fighting climate change with a new set of tools for ecological assets and agreements.
Why is blockchain useful in the Carbon Market?
Blockchain technologies allow any individual or entity to build the next layer of the internet, also referred to as Web3. This means using and creating data that cannot be changed, establishing pathways to disintermediate creators and consumers, and ultimately creating new paradigms to create, track, and drive value.
Blockchain is useful in the current carbon market to facilitate trust, transparency, and traceability of environmental claims that expand and drive impact. This can solve issues of double-counting and fraud that exist in today’s market. It is also possible to leverage data availability and smart contract functionality to achieve a higher order of social coordination and value accrual for real regenerative outcomes.
Blockchain also changes the paradigm by allowing new actors to interoperate across a trustless system that requires collaboration when new incentive structures emerge. For instance, we were able to collaborate with another blockchain project in the ecosystem KlimaDAO to meet a demand for carbon credits and build the bridge to put these assets on-chain.
Why is climate change and sustainability such an important topic today?
Climate change is one of the greatest threats humanity faces today. Under the current rate of land and soil degradation, the UN says we have less than 60 years of harvest left. Greenhouse gases continue to heat the planet, leaving us at extreme risk of social and environmental degradation. The solutions that can regenerate our planet exist today and require a broad, decentralized, and open-source community to coordinate the world’s greatest social movement. We should focus on this today because there is still time to reverse the greatest harm our past and current generations have caused so that future generations may survive – if not thrive – on the planet we call home.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
The ecological asset market – including carbon credits – has grown 50x. Natural capital assets are on the balance sheet of all Fortune 1000 companies, and land stewards around the globe have a new revenue stream produced by ecological regeneration and DAO’s explode as the preferred business organizational structure for shared governance and value creation.
With the rise of the DAOs “decentralized autonomous organization”, I foresee blockchain and carbon markets becoming more open sourced, democratized, autonomous and “trustless” (open to the public). This means that the rules and protocols created by DAOs will increasingly push toward the expansion of software – and explicitly data to support environmental claims – as becoming public goods.
I think we will continue to see a trend of crypto markets being used to positively influence the ecological outcomes and greater community self-regulation to disincentivize nefarious participants. Crypto-economic systems and public goods have the potential to bring people together with incentives to build, innovate and break through new frontiers, with incredible potential to change the state of the earth.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Support your farmers. Appreciate your farmers. Farmers are the true unsung heroes of our generation. Eat locally, eat seasonally. Know where your food comes from. Shop locally. Lower your carbon footprint. Invest in your local communities. Build your soil. Educate yourself on the issues facing our generation.
Green.Org is a television show, podcast, social media, and news platform, hosted by Dylan Welch, that highlights climate change scientists, renewable energy experts, and clean tech entrepreneurs by giving them a voice in the mainstream media. The Green podcast highlights leading experts in cleantech, sustainability, media, finance, and real estate. Tune in and subscribe to the podcast on Apple or Spotify to listen to interviews with leading cleantech and sustainable experts. If you are interested in being featured on Green, click HERE.