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Developing a Blockchain to Power the first Ecosystem Services Market Place that Rewards Communities to Restore the Eastern Ghats in India.

Building bridges between community driven mountain ecosystem restoration using blockchain technology for sustainable development financing.

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

The project idea is about addressing the challenges of total ecosystem collapse from serious land degradation that local indigenous communities living in Araku Valley along the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh, South India are facing. We want to help them by increasing their food security and building resilience from the impact of global climate change.

The successful implementation of our mountain ecosystem restoration project requires financial incentives. To this end Route2’s role is 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 the mountain ecosystem. 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 project.

This idea is a collaboration between a management consulting firm Route2 in London with VCCSL an enviro-social enterprise in Kakinada that tackles the problem of environmental degradation and loss of livelihoods and with VIKASA an NGO in Visakhapatnam working in Araku Valley. Together we are addressing the big problem by restoring degraded mountain ecosystems rapidly on the large scale basis while working with local indigenous communities to rebuild peace, ensure mountain forests preservation and building a robust green economy. The project intersects the three topics of peace, prosperity and planet

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The beneficiaries of this project are the vulnerable indigenous communities living on the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh 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, our collective approach has 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 conflict zones of the Easter Ghats

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The objective of this collaboration, is design and development of a business model to enhance the rate, scale and economic viability of ecosystem restoration in affected areas along the Eastern Ghats in India, thereby improving and protecting the Natural, Human and Social Capital value of the target mountain ecosystem.

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 project will be measuring the economic benefit of the ecosystem services generated by ecosystems in the target community. The mountain protection services provided by a mountain ecosystem would be quantified and valued.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Route2 is a management consulting firm based in London that is working in partnership with Veda Climate Change Solutions Ltd. (VCCSL) an enviro-social enterprise, knowledge processing organisation based in Kakinada that links people at grassroots with international organisations through UNFCCC global mechanisms and with VIKASA an NGO based in Visakhapatnam
working with 3000 farming families in Araku Valley

Route2 http://route2.com/
VCCSL http://vccslindia.org/
VIKASA http://vikasaindia.in/

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.
  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

The inspiration on developing this project came when the Route2 team met with the VCCSL team in London and decided to collaborate in tackling the problem of environmental degradation, loss of livelihoods and conflict resolution. This strategic partnership will address the big problem by restoring degraded mountain ecosystems rapidly on the large scale basis while working with local indigenous communities to rebuild peace, ensure mountain forests preservation and building a robust green economy.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

The idea is about Improving Rural Livelihoods (IRL) by restoring fragile mountain ecosystems in 25 villages the Araku Valley along the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh, India and adopting environment friendly technology based agroforestry practices. The main threats facing the northern Eastern Ghats include deforestation, hydropower projects, bauxite mining and road widening. The massive impoundments that dams and their reservoirs have formed between the Andhra Pradesh and Odisha borders have submerged thousands of hectares of forests. Mitigation of forest encroachments, restricting road traffic particularly during the nights on the roads traversing the Eastern Ghats and the Andhra-Odisha borders, and capacity building of local stakeholders will contribute to conservation of the northern Eastern Ghats region. The IRL project implemented by our partner VCCSL benefits more than 1500 small and marginal farmers in the six backward districts addressing about 1600 hectares of degraded land.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

The Route2 team will work alongside the VCCSL and the VIKASA team that has experience of working with the corporate sector to mobilize collaborative partnership development for our communities. The proposed activity in the Araku Valley along the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh involves building on the success of one of the very few A/R CDM projects through scaling up and replication of activities that have been successful in delivering additional revenue to the participating indigenous communities from the sale of carbon credits generated from the ecosystem restoration on degraded mountains in partnership with the private industry.

The proposed project would move beyond the carbon sequestration and value the total ecosystems. This offers a paradigm shift in addressing conservation activities. The present conservation efforts work in silos either for biodiversity, reforestation, social carbon. Our project undertakes a holistic approach to address issues at larger landscape level.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Our target communities have a surplus of indigenous people ready to work with us in implementing our project. The project will be implemented inline with achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, in addition to effective mitigation of CO2 contributing to the 2015 United Nations Paris Climate Agreement as well as providing valuable ecosystem services by enhancing biodiversity over the life of the project. VIKASA is working with 20,000 rural families in the Eastern Ghats.

Geographic Focus

We will be implementing our project in Araku Valley on the Eastern Ghats, Andhra Pradesh South India

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

We will need 36 months to implement our proposed project that would be measuring the economic benefit of the ecosystem services [ES] generated by ecosystems in our target community in the Eastern Ghats. The mountain protection services provided by a mountain ecosystem would be quantified and valued. Clearly these benefits are ‘external benefits’ and therefore the landowners receive no financial compensation and therefore no incentive to maintain the integrity and functioning off the ecosystem.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No
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Attachments (9)

Porposed Project zones.pdf

Proposed Project zone on the Eastern Ghats of Southern India.

Route2 Value2Society Framework.pdf

Route2 Value2Society (V2S) Framework used for measuring impact across 6 capital stocks.

Route2 SGS Corporate Sustainability Report.pdf

Route2 SGS Corporate Sustainability Report measuring impact on UN SDGs using Value 2 Society (V2S) Framework.

Route2 Crown Estate Total Contribution Report.pdf

Route2 Crown Estate Total Contribution Report (TCR) measuring Natural Capital using Ecosystem Services Standard.

Route2 Ecosystem Services Market Place Proposal.pdf

Route2 Ecosystem Services Market Place (ESMP) Proposal

VCCSL Implementation Status & Results Report.pdf

Implementation Status & Results Report for Improving Rural Livelihoods (IRL) Project

VCCSL Monitoring Report.pdf

Monitoring Report for Improving Rural Livelihoods (IRL) Project

VCCSL Validation Report.pdf

Validation Report for Improving Rural Livelihoods (IRL) Project

VCCSL Project Design Document.pdf

Project Design Document for Improving Rural Livelihoods (IRL) Project

170 comments

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Photo of David / Thomas Svarrer / Høyer
Team

Hi Bremley,

Thanks for your good response yesterday.

How do we get someone who pollutes to buy the coins, what is their incentive?

Could we work on two other strands;

1. Making the polluters stop polluting?
2. Create a self sustainable tree planting?

I am asking because of the issue with 3 or n- partite deals which more often than not ends up with corruption when one of the partites choose to Partite themselves from the other parties, and run away with the money without delivering.

I am aware of that blockchain is intended as the vehicle to ensure the anti corruption part, however, we already have more than 100 international caees of various sizes, running in various countries, based on all sorts of issues with blockchain backed crypto currencies, so could we maybe put our heads together, maybe on Skype or during the Caux in July, to see what we can do, without too new technology?

A 3rd party international bank could simply act as a trustee bank holding the funds in trust, then you do your expertise in tree planting, surveillance is done via global forest watch, which is for free, and funds are released???

The holder could be a trust fund, such that there are maybe 2 or 3 fund releasing entities. It is unlikely that such a construct would fail. If we pay the farmers via mobile pay, there would be audit trail all the way through.

Beware, even if we follow your model where polluters pay for eco coins, someone has to hold the money in trust. This must therefore be solved no matter how you do it, and therefore, the blockchain ledger is kind of loosing its value, while your entire project here, has enormous value???

Can you follow me?

Sincerely
David Svarrer

Photo of Sai Nellore
Team

Dear David, thank you for your thought inducing response.

The response to your first question, how do we get someone to buy coins?. In case of India, there are two relevant provisions firstly, the Government of India has a CSR policy that can be reviewed at the following link (http://finance.bih.nic.in/documents/csr-policy.pdf), it mandates that the company has to spend 2% of its profits for CSR initiatives. In addition, as part INDCs of India (http://www4.unfccc.int/ndcregistry/PublishedDocuments/India%20First/INDIA%20INDC%20TO%20UNFCCC.pdf) there is a commitment to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 level and to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030. For achieving these targets the companies have to contribute and hence there is an incentive for the companies to source emission reduction or ecosystem restoration coins to meet their obligations both under CSR and climate change related obligations.

The question on making the polluters stop polluting?, I don't know how it can be done, as it would be beyond our scope and reach of how we can achieve the same. Maybe, you can share some thoughts and come up with an innovative idea to address the same in the near future, which might be acceptable to the polluters to take it up. As Bremley has explained in the previous comments, the idea is to make tree planting sustainable and more over create sustainable livelihoods.

I don't know which kind of agreement would allow someone to run away with money without delivering. If you do not create necessary fiduciary controls, and deal with individuals or entities with questionable credibility at times this things might happen. However, it needs to be remembered that more number of people and organisations have their credibility on the line and would not engage in this activities.

The ideas that you explained are of interest with regards to mobile pay, we may discuss the same during the Caux dialogue face to face to explore options for taking those processes into prospective projects.

We have been working in this region and have partnered with BioCarbon Fund of the World Bank and have released the carbon revenue to the farmers, and we have experience of delivering the money to the participating communities through established banking systems in India. So, there are systems that are in place for ensuring that the payments are processed to the communities as per the rules of the land. As explained multiple times we are using blockchain as it offers transparency and is the current technology that offers a different value proposition. We are not tied to blockchain as explained earlier, it's a tool that is being used and the tools might change based on technological developments.

Best regards,
Sai

Photo of David / Thomas Svarrer / Høyer
Team

Dear Sai Nellore - I think it is key that we all - not only your project - but all projects - are looking keenly and carefully into the reality on the ground - and even though it is tough, we shall not let ourselves succumb to passivity or resignation.

When you therefore write "I don't know which kind of agreement would allow someone to run away with money without delivering. " - then you indeed have a point.

The problem is, that we both know that BOTH in India, in Africa, in China, in Brazil, and lots and lots of the countries around equator - and let me not spare my own country - DENMARK (I will comment at the bottom on that one) - or GERMANY (VolksWagen, Siemens, Bosch, to mention a few) - in all of these (and many more) countries - agreements are put in place, they are even published, and they look good, but even the content, the signatories, the expected outcome, is part of a very well schemed fraud.

Therefore when you write "which kind of agreement" - then the agreement is not the problem, but the deal behind, the possibility of enforcement of failures, the preconditions which preselects less than a handful of prospect bidders - the requirements for the systems which are so inflated and complex compared to the real necessity which is often easy, simple, doable in only months, and - something one of the thousands of small or mid-range software houses can do - if they were not pre-excluded from bidding.

Therefore, my good Sai, and my good Bremley - when I write what I do to you, it is with encouragement in terms of the good that you do, with encouragement to do WHAT you intend to do. With our full support from our little humble Nexus 7 team. And with worries, that even though you appear very experienced - you may have very clean hearts, and maybe you have not experienced some of this worlds hard realities.

I would hate to see your extremely good, commendable, extraordinary initiative die or be trapped in the corruption which we have experienced in this sector. My personal experience is that people are willing to sign on anything and everything, siphon money out with the risk of jail terms (because in many countries - including many African countries and including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka - they can simply pay police, judges, and even juries, bribe them - and then go undercover, or move to other countries if the heist is sufficiently huge). The reason why they move to other countries is, that the ones they bribe then continue to "haunt them". Often these scenarios even end up with murders and such unnecessaries...

My point is indeed not to discuss these sorrow projects, and I propose that we follow your proposal and start discussing how we can overcome these corrupt practices.

One of them is this thing that people sign any agreement necessary to score millions into their pockets, and then run away without any trace. And the good cause, the good cause, the good childrens home, are the victims as they are being blamed for not having their financial controls in order - while in fact the problem happen due to that suppliers, 3rd parties, staff, meticulously plan and execute 5th column activities.

MY personal experience in handling such issues in general - from 20 years in Kenya - is to remove the centralized handling of any money. Establish systems which has no central money except when computer-controlled and under both a bank's lock and key, rembourse-like terms and conditions, a funding board to approve, with rotational membership, with members elected via random+votes.

Let me give you an example:

NSSF is a national pension fund accused of massive fraud. Instead of hoarding money up in a huge money tank, solely controlled by a board, who's corrupt behaviours are congruent with the balance in the tank, pension could be handled by a software which distributes all contributions to the pension-takers, creates a public overview, and thereby there will be no huge money tank to loot. Let the board be elected by all the pension-contributors too.

================
ON my comment in regards to the corrupt DENMARK : Denmark, who for which reason I cannot seem to understand, appears on top of the Transparency International's list of "clean" countries as number 1, 2 or 3, year after year.

Denmark remains there, despite that we have almost annually very murky, almost impenetrably dark cases. Most recently is 2017, where an equivalent of USD 3.5 billion (not million - billion) - disappeared down a "Software drain" - where the agreements between our tax authorities and the vendor indeed have been in place. The agreements follow public (but corrupt) tender-processes, with tender, bidding, selection and approvals - and the "winners" won - preselected as they were - they started, delayed, and delivered a mastodont on clay-feet which could neither go forth nor back - and had to be flushed down the drain.

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