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Is Crypto Bad for the Environment?

From incentivizing conservation and funding philanthropic causes to enabling greater transparency through blockchain.
Alicia Cepeda Maule (Givepact), Drew Simon (Crypto Altruism)
April 18, 2023

Humanity is at an important juncture in the fight to combat climate change, as the world faces the imminent threat of runaway climate change and catastrophic species loss. At the core of this fight, is efforts to regenerate and conserve the oceans, forests, and biodiversity that play such an important role in the planet’s health. After all, the world has lost one-third of its forests to date, and the size of animal populations have declined by an estimated 69% according to the Living Planet Index.

As people face the urgent need for climate action, many are turning to innovative solutions to tackle the challenge. One such solution lies in the power of Web3 and cryptocurrency, which offer unique opportunities to drive regeneration efforts. From incentivizing conservation and funding philanthropic causes to enabling greater transparency through blockchain, Web3 can play a key role in preserving our planet for future generations.

Incentivizing conservation efforts with Web3

Web3 technology has the potential to incentivize conservation and regeneration efforts through various innovative mechanisms. One such mechanism is the use of blockchain-based tokens to reward individuals or organizations for undertaking conservation activities. These tokens can be designed to have monetary value and can be traded on cryptocurrency exchanges, providing a financial incentive for people to engage in conservation efforts. Additionally, Web3 technology can enable the creation of decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) focused on conservation and regeneration, where members can vote on the allocation of funds and resources towards specific projects. This provides a transparent and democratic way of incentivizing conservation efforts.

One example of a project using Web3 mechanics to incentivize regeneration efforts is Plastic Bank, which uses a blockchain-based platform to incentivize plastic clean-up from the ocean by rewarding individuals in their clean up efforts. In essence, locals are rewarded for removing plastic from the oceans and rivers with income and benefits such as access to insurance, social assistance, and banking services.

Meta Carbon, a project making carbon offsetting easy, transparent and fun, has many initiatives including a new effort called the Cartagena Turtle Club, where the team is planting mangroves, an endangered tropical tree, in Cartagena, Colombia for every NFT minted. Their mission is to restore 57 hectares of mangrove forest and remove 40,000 tonnes of CO2e, improving the lives of people in the “city’s poorest neighborhoods, protect the city from coastal erosion, support women and their families, create ecotourism opportunities and help artisanal fishermen recover their livelihoods.”

Supporting environmental causes with crypto philanthropy

Web3 and cryptocurrency can offer new ways to fund environmental causes, breaking away from traditional philanthropic methods that often lack transparency and traceability. By using blockchain technology, donations can be tracked from the moment they are made to the moment they reach the hands of those who need them, ensuring that funds are distributed fairly and without intermediaries taking their cut. Additionally, with crypto philanthropy, individuals and organizations can donate to conservation efforts in exchange for rewards or recognition.

One example of a Web3 project raising funds for regeneration efforts is The Aeternals, an NFT project with the goal of preserving and protecting the Amazon Rainforest. 55% of all profits from sales of The Aeternals support the work of the Rainforest Partnership which works directly with local Indigenous communities to protect the world's biodiversity hotspots. In addition to supporting an important cause, the collectors of Aeternals get a unique piece of artwork and other unique perks such as the ability to take part in community events, and even the opportunity to name a recently discovered Amazonian frog species! The Aeternals provides a unique example of how Web3 opens the door for causes to engage donors and advocates in exciting new ways.

Another example is Steward, a project built on Celo “partnering with eight conservation, environmental justice and Indigenous nonprofits and eight global artists to protect the eight major ecosystems of our natural world” including the Grasslands, Tundra, Temperate Forests, Deserts, Ocean, Chaparra, Taiga, and Tropical Rainforests. So far, they have over 1,500 Stewards benefitting NDN Collective, Native Conservancy, Grounded, Earth Care: For Our Relatives, Oceanic Global, The Brazil Indigenous People Articulation, Keystone Species Alliance, and the Solutions Project.  

Monitoring and evaluation for conservation efforts

Web3 can play a significant role in monitoring conservation and regeneration efforts. Through the use of blockchain technology, data on land use, resource consumption, and environmental impact can be tracked and recorded in a transparent and immutable way. This helps to identify areas that are in need of regeneration and conservation efforts, while also providing a means of verifying the success of these initiatives over time.

One example of this, in action, is Open Forest Protocol, a Web3 project that uses blockchain technology to monitor and verify reforestation projects. Their blockchain-based platform allows NGOs, governments, and local communities to track reforestation projects in an transparent and open source manner, providing an effective means to verify the impact of each project.

Another example is ReSea Project, which uses a blockchain-based tracking system to monitor, in real-time, the removal of plastic waste from oceans and rivers. Their innovative platform tracks the plastic waste from point of origin through every step of the clean-up process, providing a secure and verifiable record of the amount of plastic removed from the ocean.

Klima DAO aims to fight climate change by using blockchain technology and carbon offsets. The company enables individuals and organizations to purchase and hold Klima tokens, which represent a verified carbon offset credit. These tokens can be traded on decentralized exchanges and can also be used to offset an individual's carbon footprint.

Natural capital-backed assets

One of the more innovative ways that crypto and Web3 can help drive regeneration efforts is through natural capital-backed assets. These assets are financial instruments that are backed by natural resources such as forests, wetlands, and other natural habitats. By investing in these assets, individuals and organizations can help to fund conservation efforts and incentivize the regeneration of the planet's natural resources.

One example of a Web3 natural capital-backed project is Fund The Planet, which uses the funds from the purchase of their Rainforest Token NFTs to purchase and protect swaths of rainforest land. Each token certifies the protection of a specific piece of rainforest land, with 567 hectares of land being acquired thus far.


Web3 and crypto have the potential to be powerful tools in driving regeneration efforts. By incentivizing conservation and regeneration, funding conservation causes through crypto philanthropy, enabling greater transparency in conservation efforts through blockchain technology, and facilitating the creation of natural capital-backed assets, we can make significant strides in protecting and restoring our planet, while providing individuals with new avenues for investment in sustainable practices.

As we continue to face the urgent challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, it is crucial that we explore innovative solutions and leverage new technologies to create a more sustainable future. Web3 and crypto present exciting opportunities to do just that.

Drew Simon is the founder of Crypto Altruism, a platform shining a light on blockchain and cryptocurrency projects that are making use of this innovating technology for the advancement of social good.

Alicia Maule is the co-founder of Givepact, a crypto fundraising platform for nonprofits launching in June 2023.