The Ecosphere+ vision is a global economy in balance with Nature, and we know that if we want to get serious about the climate we need to create systems that actually make things better than we found them. On May 1 – 4 in San Francisco’s Mission district, my colleague Jessica Verhagen and I attended Regen2018, a first of its kind convening of individuals and organizations attempting to work out those systems, pushing the boundaries of ‘sustainability’ towards a regenerative model of agriculture, consumption, economy, and finance.
The concept of regeneration stems from ‘regenerative agriculture’ practices, an approach to land or pasture management that begins with improving soil health, including increasing organic matter, improving soil hydrology, and increasing soil biodiversity. Not only does this mean more nutrient rich food, it makes soil absorb CO2 at a game-changing scale for the climate. France’s 4 parts per thousand initiative is a voluntary coalition of public and private stakeholders to harness this potential of soil to draw down and store by 0.4% per year, an amount that would stop the increase of anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Their number one policy prescription is reducing deforestation.
Reducing deforestation and forest degradation is at the heart of Ecosphere+’s mission. Our approach to regeneration is centered around protecting large areas of tropical rainforest and using carbon finance to invest in sustainable commodity production, riparian restoration, peatland restoration, soil regeneration, and empowering local and indigenous communities to develop commercially viable enterprises in line with their values. We use a price on carbon and carbon credits to help consumers and businesses accurately value what forests do for our well-being, our economies, and our climate. Check out our most recent partnership with Nisolo, a leather shoes and accessories brand, to see how we work in practice.
Regen2018 was a true gathering of visionaries across three venues in the Mission, a community fondly referred to as ‘Regenerates’ by one of the leaders in regenerative agriculture. Jessica spoke on the blockchain panel about how this data-storage technology can help improve the transparency and accessibility of markets for agriculture commodities and carbon credits. I spoke on a panel called “The Revolution Will Be Funded” on the Innovative Finance track, and my remarks attempted to drive home the importance of integrating a price on carbon and how the carbon credit sales can be such a critical source of revenue for indigenous and local communities transitioning to low-carbon land use in developing countries.
A lot needs to happen and soon to even have a shot at a less than two degrees world – we’ve heard about the energy revolution, but we urgently need a land use revolution. And the financing part is critical. Someone has to pay for it, and there is not enough public, philanthropic, and impact capital in the world to cover the costs. We all have to step up – and the good news we can because there are solutions available now, and Ecosphere+ is leading the way, enabling everyone to integrate the true value of nature into every transaction and action we take. We know that is what it will take to radically transform our economic system to be regenerative, and one day – back in balance.
Another concept that could help us reach these targets and allow forests to be saved is that of insetting.