2 Mar

2021: OpenEarth’s Year in Review


This past year we’ve been hard at work at OpenEarth Foundation. Since our formal incorporation on September 21, 2020, OpenEarth has evolved from a validated innovation model at Yale’s Open Innovation Lab into a relevant global player in the climate tech space, building open infrastructure for a more resilient planet.

None of this would have been possible without the incredible support we received from donors, grant foundations and, more importantly, the amazing network of artists and collectors that participated in the #CarbonDrop. The CarbonDrop raised $6.6M, a historic impact by setting the standard for how artists and NFTs can be a force of positive change in the world. It naturally also had a catalytic effect in OpenEarth’s ability to scale our work on open digital innovation for addressing climate accounting and accountability.

The post-CarbonDrop Strategy

With the CarbonDrop’s unexpected success, the OpenEarth team focused on three main pillars:

1// The first entails the strategy for managing the funds raised. We have assembled a stellar team to establish an endowment for the Foundation, where the funds are put to work through impact investments whose yields support OEF’s program expenditures. We believe this is crucial to ensure institutional permanence through capital preservation, so as to maintain open source digital work at least until 2030.

2// Second, we’ve been focusing on consolidating our organizational development processes, allowing us to ramp-up management of our operations and human resources to be effective and efficient from a cost and time basis. This has prepared OpenEarth to scale its teams, programs and operations.

3// Third, and by far most importantly, since the CarbonDrop we’ve been rapidly accelerating our climate programs. By mid-year alone, the OpenEarth Climate project joined a pilot on the use of blockchain for transparent climate accounting with the government of British Columbia, Canada; launched a working group with the UNFCCC community of non-state actor data to determine next generation digital infrastructure for the Paris Agreement; began research on creating a digital twin of the Amazon rainforest, and started refactoring the OpenSolar code preparing it for test deployment.

Our Climate Action Programs in Review

Installation of test deployment in a Puerto Rico community center. Credit: MIT DCI

Our first project in our brief history was OpenEarth Solar, a blockchain based platform for decentralized solar energy financing. It was piloted in Puerto Rico in 2018 and 2019 as part of the MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative, involving an open source platform for crowdfunding solar projects, IoT devices connected to the blockchain to certify energy generated and consumed, and smart contracts to allow finance and repayment automation.

An open source crowd-investment platform for solar energy powered by DeFi

Soon after, we launched our climate accounting project, OpenEarth Climate, an independent climate accounting network based on nested accounting and verifiable credentials for transparent and verifiable climate data. This initiative is the continuation of the open source work done at Yale Openlab’s Open Climate and further developed through the OpenClimate Collabathon. OpenEarth kickstarted its new chapter in collaboration with the government of British Columbia, Canada, who are spearheading the use of verifiable credentials in governments. The pilot involves the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, PwC, IBM, Microsoft and Copper Mountain.

In order to issue and handle verifiable credentials we developed the OpenEarth Network, in collaboration with Envision and Indicio, leaders in decentralized identities and main contributors to the Hyperledger Indy and Aries open source codebases.

Since climate accounting is one of our main verticals, we also entered in collaboration with Chainlink and UC Berkeley students to develop a carbon dioxide atmospheric concentration oracle, which creates the first feed of earth state data for use in smart contracts and helps develop the Climate DeFi space.

To further understand the solar fintech space, we worked with CoLab Coop, a transnational tech worker cooperative network, to launch a discovery process on how to enable more deployment into mid-size solar projects, by leveraging distributed technologies, IoTs and machine learning to reduce finance, administrative and legal frictions. We collaborated with cutting-edge climate tech startups like Raise Green and StationA to understand how to create a stronger solar fintech ecosystem.

Supporting the UNFCCC Paris Agreement Process

By the last quarter of the year, we joined as core partners to the United Nations Climate Change Global Innovation Hub and have been actively prototyping its core technology, a platform that seeks to connect core human needs from cities or other entities with climate solution providers, all in line with the Paris Agreement goals.

To advance the digital and community infrastructure for the Paris Agreement’s Global Stocktake, OpenEarth co-founded the Climate Action Data 2.0 (CAD2.0) alongside Camda and the Data Driven Lab. The working group has focused on improving accounting and accountability of climate pledges from Non-State Actors (eg. cities and corporations), by advancing common research and knowledge in three workstreams: Digital Infrastructure, Data Harmonization and Policy & Use-Cases.

Future Visioning and requirements of the Paris Agreement’s Global Stocktake if it were to be done in real time rather than every 5 years. Developed by the Climate Action Data 2.0 working group.

Furthermore, the OpenEarth Foundation was awarded by The Carnegie Foundation of New York, one of the most impactful philanthropies in US history, a grant of $500'000 in support of our launch of an Independent Climate Accounting Network for the Paris Agreement’s Global Stocktake. This will add to the CarbonDrop funds to support this ambitious open software project development. The grant will also support the community development work with the climate data community at large and the developments of the CAD2.0 working group.

With such a momentum, in November we traveled to Glasgow to attend COP26 and participated and moderated various panel discussions at the UNFCCC pavilion, showcasing the work done for the United Nations Global Innovation Hub and the OpenClimate Platform. We also presented the CAD2.0 declaration at the CAMDA panel. If you’re interested in learning about our takeaways from COP26, you can learn more in our COP26 article.

Next Steps: Team Growth and the OceanDrop

To accomplish so much progress in such a short time we have been building a great and diverse team, onboarding experienced people from different backgrounds and regions in the world. If you want to learn more about our team and our first offsite retreat takeaways, read our team post from our corporate retreat. By the way, the team is still growing and we need passionate people to help us build a more resilient planet, check out our open positions in our careers page.

Additionally, after so much sudden growth, OpenEarth is working on a rebranding and launching a new website that can showcase all the work we have been doing and have planned for the future. No spoilers!

And now, we’re launching OceanDrop, an NFT art auction that will fund our marine conservation vertical, OpenEarth Ocean.The auction will raise funds to support the research and deployment of blockchain based solutions for improved management and protection of the world’s oceans.

Read more about the initiative at OceanDrop.

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Jul 2022

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