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A Whole-Systems Approach to Regenerative Development - Lake Atitlán Basin Guatemala

A P2P cooperative marketplace fostering biodiversity-based agriculture through a digital-currency and decentralized financial ecosystem.

Photo of Franz Allmayer
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Integrity.Earth

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Capital Institute - Small NGO University for International Cooperation - Research Institution Hypha DAO - Other - Decentralized Autonomous Organization

Website of Legally Registered Entity

www.integrity.earth

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Schaan

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Principality of Liechtenstein

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Lake Atitlán watershed, covers an area of 548 km^2.

What country is your selected Place located in?

Guatemala

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

The Lake Atitlán area was where Integrity.Earth was born. Lake Atitlán is a sacred site in the Guatemalan Highlands of the Sierra Madre mountain range. For the indigenous Mayan ethnic groups living in the Greater Atitlán Basin, as well as for the founders of Integrity.Earth, the lake symbolizes the “Grandmother of Water” (Atit: Grandmother and Tlan: Water).

Water is life, a gift that falls from the sky, that nourishes the fields and rivers, gives life to our harvests and to us. Nature is a totality. It is movement and action, it is the soil, mountains, trees, birds, clouds, fire, water, lakes, and, no more and no less, man, together in a single living system. Each part is sacred and fulfills a role. Water, air, sun, and earth are the elements that make up man himself and so it is so important to show them due respect.

The Mayan relationship with water is based on great respect to this essential life-giving element. In contrast to the indigenous cosmology, a materialistic worldview imposing an illusion of separation from nature, makes it profitable to exploit the natural assets we all collectively share.

“It is not possible to find a new way of living that ends the current waste and pollution of water without understanding how the ancient cultures of Guatemala feel, perceive, and think. A new consciousness in the country, with respect to the universe and life, must make a change that is not just a change of actions, but also a change of paradigm that will mean a new way of organizing thought: To understand man is not to extract him from the universe, but to situate him inside of it.” - Dr. Daniel Eduardo Matul Morales



Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Lake Atitlán is a sacred site in the Guatemalan Highlands of the Sierra Madre mountain range. It is Central America’s deepest lake. It lies in a spectacular setting in the central highlands in the department of Sololá, at 1,563 metres above sea level and covers an area of 127.7 km². The lake basin is volcanic in origin, filling an enormous caldera (enlarged form of the volcanic vent) formed by an eruption several thousand years ago.

The lake is renowned as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, and is Guatemala’s most important national and international tourist attraction. The shores of the scenic lake are flecked with indigenous villages. The main towns along the lake are popular with anthropologists and tourists.

It describes an important ecosystem that is labelled as a biodiversity conservation area and provides the 380,000 inhabitants of the water catchment area of 548 km² with arable land, forest, drinking water, livelihoods, as well as an important cultural and spiritual symbol.

While around the lake tourism provides the principle source of income in the economy, most of the population in the Lake Atitlán Basin are subsistence farmers and live in extreme poverty, as does 46% of Guatemala’s population. This number has been rising consistently in the last decades as farmers are pushed to exploit nature for survival. 

Historically, Mayan indigenous people lived in harmony with nature and applied regenerative permaculture agricultural principles. In recent decades, industrially produced food-imports imports have flooded the Guatemalan market, out-competing traditional methods of food production. This replaces a healthy and diverse food source for both humans and the environment with industrially produced diets that erode both biological and cultural diversity, as well as livelihoods of local small-scale food producers, which serve as the basis for local sovereignty.

The soil, forest and aquatic ecosystems in the watershed and their respective biodiversity have come under enormous distress, as deforestation, agricultural production and overuse of agrochemicals, run-off of human waste and industrial dirty water into the lake has led to consequent degeneration and erosion of arable soil, failing agriculture, ecosystem collapse, and food and water insecurity.

Adding the strain of climate change, a high population growth, lack of opportunities and voice in governance, no equitable access to quality health care or integral education.

When farmers can no longer rely on their crops to make a living, they are usually forced to choose between underpaid labor in plantations, risking their lives migrating to crowded urban areas, or further emigrating in search of better opportunities beyond country borders.



What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

380000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Central America has a long history of unrest. Livelihoods for millions have become critical and mass migrations have concentrated the focus of political and economic discussions. A complex systemic failure of historic development models has triggered these migrations due to political unrest, high criminality and violence, extreme poverty, land degradation and ecosystem collapse, loss of productive soil, failing agriculture, food insecurity, frequent impacts of extreme weather events, global warming, lack of quality education and the lack of clear political leadership associated with high levels of corruption.

All of this is intensified in a world dominated by exponential change, where the climate emergency is poised to exacerbate all other social challenges humanity now faces. Structural inequality and poverty make it difficult to achieve the necessary scales of cooperation. Historic patterns of development have degraded lands, removed vital ecosystems, and set the stage for a systemic failure that threatens our very existence. We are at risk of losing the conditions required for human societies to develop and thrive.

Migration has been an issue in the region for decades. The recent migration caravans have become a major headline. Extreme poverty, land degradation and ecosystem collapse, loss of productive soil, failing agriculture and food insecurity are recognized as among the main causes.

High deforestation rates and biodiversity loss were recognized decades ago and led to one of the world’s most innovative large-scale interventions, the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, which ended in 2006. Today, extreme weather events are causing major damage to farms and crops and climate models predict a decline in precipitation with more frequent, severe and longer lasting droughts.

The increase in migration coincides with the drought, which began in 2014, and those living in Central America’s so-called dry corridor. According to a recent World Bank report, climate change has emerged as a major driver of migration, propelling increasing numbers of people to move from vulnerable to more viable areas.

The heart of the matter is that small-scale agriculture in balance with nature has provided livelihoods for communities all over the world, as well as in Lake Atitlán, Guatemala. With an increased distortion of market values, favoring industrially mass-produced monoculture, has placed livelihoods as well as biodiversity in a market failure of anthropocenic proportions.

Historically, Mayan indigenous people lived in harmony with nature and applied regenerative agricultural techniques. In recent decades, industrially produced food-imports have flooded the Guatemalan market, out-competing traditional methods of food production. This replaces a healthy and diverse food source for both humans and the environment with industrially produced diets that erode systemic health of both biological and cultural diversity, as well as livelihoods of small-scale farmers.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Applying a living-systems understanding of what makes networks healthy, positive feedback loops and transparent protocols allow us to channel our shared purpose to sustain effective development programs that enable the rapid systemic transformation that is required to bring resilience and food sovereignty to the Lake Atitlán watershed. Utilizing a whole-systems approach designed to meet socio-economic needs and restore essential ecological corridors, enabled through a P2P marketplace that fosters a regenerative economy based on biodiversity-based agriculture, co-owned and directed by the community through a digital currency and financial ecosystem, that gives voice and value to both people and planet. 

We propose to deliver effective campaigns aimed to integrate the following:
• Co-creating P2P regenerative economies inclusive of all stakeholders through multidisciplinary approaches that build resilience at the local level
• Enhancing community building and participation, especially the capacity of youth, through  empowerment, education, and financial inclusion.
• Empowering entrepreneurs, social business, cooperatives, and small enterprises, inclusive to women and youth, establishing value chains for sustainable market opportunities.
• Subsidizing and sustaining biodiversity-based agricultural practices that optimize food production through land-use-planning, recover local agro-biodiversity, build soil health, sequester large amounts of carbon, reverse the trend toward desertification and preserve local ancestral knowledge.
• Developing regenerative tourism models and frameworks designed to build local resilience.
• Large-scale restoration of ecosystems to safeguard and sustain biodiversity levels and build resilience to climate change.

SEEDS serves as an effective financial vehicle, empowering a collaborative effort that enables large-scale whole-system transformation that safeguards and intelligently stewards the natural assets that we all share, all while encouraging and financially rewarding all stakeholders for the value they provide.

Campaigns
Using Seeds as a complementary currency we can generate effective campaigns to seed integral economies, linking conscious consumers to conscious producers in a participatory learning relationship. As the regenerative marketplace grows organically, empowered through community collaboration, genuine abundance can be unlocked.

#PlantSeedsGetSeeds - participating in reforestation, food forests, and food gardens and get seeds.
#ProofofFood - Show us you are part of the local food system and you receive seeds
#GoodDeedsGetSeeds - Do a good deed, let us know and receive seeds
#AlignedCommunity - airdrop tokens to aligned communities and projects


High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

The emerging P2P integral economy will link conscious consumers (such as restaurants, hotels, regenerative tourism, marketplaces) with conscious producers (farmers applying regenerative agriculture; artisans, teachers, indigenous communities). This conscious marketplace and currency would significantly contribute to regenerate soil health, strengthen natural ecosystem services, increase biodiversity levels and, ultimately, restore a healthy, sustainable ecosystem, all while proving its financial viability.

In the near future, we envision Lake Atitlán forming part of a network of thriving globally regenerative cultures and societies.  This initiative, would sustain small land-owners and farmers through access to a peer to peer organic food market, enabled through the SEEDS cooperative economy fostering an agroecological transition to make the local food system resilient and address the challenges of extreme poverty, land degradation and ecosystem collapse, loss of productive soil, failing agriculture, and food and water insecurity faced in the region.

People will be restored a fair livelihood, in which they will be able to thrive and make a living through a healthy environment that attracts visitors, and ensures resilience to climate change. 

This effort will result in a effective pathway for replication and scale, in order to catalyze the transition from geopolitics towards biosphere consciousness.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Our vision aims to resolve the profound, interlocking crises we are now facing – ecological, economic, and social – through enabling a p2p marketplace that adequately values local biodiversity-based agriculture.  

The vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future is to restore integrity of the values and modalities eroded through the takeover of centralized currency and a misunderstanding in what politics, finance, and economics could be. This requires us to shift our collective awareness from seeking mere incremental change over the countless symptoms plaguing our planet to effectively addressing the challenges by their roots. Immersed in a fragmented system of induced scarcity we confuse what is with what is not. Only by addressing this fundamental lack of integrity can we start moving into the right direction and transcend the cultural conditioning that keeps humanity under the illusion of separation.

Instead of building our entire economy on debt-based money that promotes a mono-culture of induced scarcity and separation, imposing over all other forms of diversity, both cultural as well as biological, we now have the tools and technological capacity to empower and scale our innate human ability to cooperate and exchange with one another, enabling convergence around bio-regional economies of unprecedented abundance.


Invisibly connected in a shared attempt to bring about a more sustainable future, a plethora of initiatives, movements, new forms of enterprise, and lifestyle experiments encompassing all aspects of life continue to emerge. We now have a unique opportunity to transcend fragmentation and integrate these impulses into a unified effort adequate to the scale of the increasingly complex systemic failure we find ourselves challenged with.


SEEDS serves as a fully decentralized organizational governance and financial ecosystem that  redefines what currency can do for society. Inspired by the mycelial networks that sustain complex ecosystems, SEEDS connects people and organizations in ways that regenerate and distribute value more effectively, benefiting the long-term well-being of the whole system.

As diverse people and organizations around the world partake in this process of co-creating a culture that respects a holistic understanding of our interwovenness with life, an integral economy adequate for today’s needs results, linking conscious consumers to conscious producers in a participatory relationship. Change is facilitated when confronted with partaking in an integral economy that provides value to all stakeholders, or partaking in extractive economies fixated on profit over people and planet. By consolidating a viable alternative in which to participate, a movement emerges, making models built on scarcity redundant.


In this pivotal moment of our collective history, restoring the earth’s key climate systems and th self-regulating capacity to sustain life, is a survival imperative. The shift needed to fix the earth’s carbon cycle requires a majority of global citizens to take full responsibility in order to rapidly transition from fossil-fuel based dependence, towards a biodiversity-based civilization. A vehicle that allows people to find unity in diversity and catalyze cooperative efforts towards a shared vision of change where everyone can thrive, is a game changer.

In order to transmute the shortfalls of “trickledown economics”, which shape our current paradigm, SEEDS implements a decentralized monetary policy which equitably distributes value generated from a robust circulatory flow of currency directly into the accounts of people and organizations contributing towards a healthy systemic growth, supporting and accelerating the adoption of  regenerative practices which otherwise would be lost in market failure. Mimicking nature’s holistic qualities for exchanging value, it enables a co-creative, grassroots, and fully-scalable effort that aligns
radical empowerment of purpose with finance to harmonize people into right relationship with community and place.

While debt-based currencies of today continue to depreciate in value at staggering rates, we now have at our disposal a uniquely stable currency that benefits its users as they contribute to the expansion of a well-being economy that gives voice and value to a shared vision of change. Synergistically unlocking creativity and cooperation at scale is fertile ground for abundance to flourish. These qualities represent our most effective tools to resolve the global systemic failure we now collectively face.

We are proposing a far-reaching, long-term solution that consolidates existing and emerging efforts towards the effective restoration of key biological corridors essential for systemic well-being that open-up a pathway for effective replication and scale. The intended impact of our multi-stakeholder approach has a long-term durability in its design and is conceived to increase local resilience as time goes on, enabling a transition towards well-being economies that sustain life.


This effort will deliver a functional framework and deliver empirical evidence resulting from the implementation of a vehicle for large-scale regeneration, showcasing the transformative power of a whole-systems approach to development.


The nature of blockchain enables us to balance the demand and supply of currency in circulation to secure stability in the value of currency throughout the growth stages while fiat currencies worldwide are failing to maintain value. SEEDS aims to be an ideal currency for people and planet by providing more voice and value to both. By providing direct and equitable access to previously disenfranchised communities on a stable, non-usury based currency, we foresee the value of the digital currency to grow organically and advance rapidly in the ranks of the crypto-currencies worldwide.

In this context we put forth a compelling financial tool to attract both small- and large-scale funding that rewards both protectors and investors seeking a more stable currency in a sustainable ecosystem.

Redirecting our collective consciousness into a joint effort that gives value to regeneration, results in restoration of ecological systems, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, preservation of biodiversity, and the preservation of ancestral knowledge, all while providing a fair and sustainable living to local communities.

Our societies are built on top of human exchanges - when we alter the medium of these exchanges, we can fundamentally alter the structure of our societies. What now counts is that each global citizen takes personal responsibility for the shift we are collectively part of, uniting all of these impulses into a breakthrough towards genuine sustainability, freedom, and peace.

We invite you to envision the emergence of a thriving alternative society as we weave together all regenerative organizations and people working towards systemic integrity.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Referral

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Photo of Alana Libow
Team

Hi Franz Allmayer - We look forward to seeing your published Vision. The Integrity video shows the engagement of the community (fantastic) -- How might you integrate into your vision some examples of community movement/actions/developments underway?

Are you seeing any signals (discrete examples tied to the aim of the vision) around Lake Atitlan that show potential for your vision?

Finally, if a reporter joined you in 2050 at the shores of Lake Atitlan, what would this reporter see, feel, experience that would be transformational (paradigm shift from today) because of your vision?

We look forward to seeing your updates.

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