The relationship between the economy and the environment is not an easy one.
Most modern economies are based around the profit principle.
But this doesn't work well for environmental projects.
You can put a price on environmental degradation.
But without the intensive international deal-making and haggling over environmental pricing, it is difficult to place a dollar value on a clean beach or an intact coral reef.
What is the value of a kilo of rubbish removed from a beach compared to a kilo removed from the river that empties near that beach?
What is the value of that kilo of waste plastic that put in a land fill compared to the kilo burnt in a cement kiln?
What is the difference whether that kilo is in India or is in Africa?
These values are difficult to agree on just for a particular location. And they can be completely different from one location to the next.
Maybe the problem is not the economic value but the currency itself.
Maybe we need a currency more suited to the demands of environmental projects which are typically international and highly local.
Sounds like a crypto-currency right?
This week we're talking to Rob from the crypto token Beach which is designed to fill the needs of groups of people such as digital nomads moving through different locations exchanging services. These services may be delivered over the internet or locally.
Currently the organization behind the Beach token has funding available for ocean preservation projects and I applaud that.
Here is my conversation with Rob.
Rob, can you describe what each token is in in a sentence?
Yeah, ina sentence I would say that beach token is the world’s planetpositive cryptocurrency. Do I get 2 sentences?
I think we'll need two sentences or maybe more.
And basically to understand the need for something like Beach, you kind of have to understand what's wrong with our fiat money or national currency.
Please explain what fiat money is.
Yeah, fiat money is our national currency. You know, pounds shillings, dollars, whatever it is.
OK, got it Yep.
The best way of explaining this is a little thought experiment. If you take a pristine tract of rainforest and let's say I come along andI say to the bank look,I want to protect this rainforest,so I'm going to need a loan of $1,000,000 and I want to just protect this rainforest, conserve it, look after it, leave it alone.
So the bank will say OK, great, well you know you can have your $1,000,000.
And and if you know if we need the money back, you can sell the rainforest and we can take the $1,000,000 back. But how are you going to pay the interest?
And so man #1 doesn't get the loan man. #2 goes along and says I'd like$1,000,000 because I'm going to log this range for us and I'd likea little bit more than $1,000,000 so that I can buy diggers and loggers and I can chop it down and I can give you 3% a year with all the profits that I make from selling them the raw materials.So person #2 gets the loan.
What we can do by recreating and redesigning money is to realign those incentives so that what's good for the planet can also be profitable, essentially so that we can actually start to incentivize on mass.
The kind of behaviours that we need to see to look after our planetand.
Look after our oceans.
OK,I think that resonates with a lot of people.The idea that we need to align the economy with what is good for not just for the GDP, but for also for all the things that make our life good. You know.And that is, and the environment is a big part of.
That, so what's the answer?
Well, the answer is there's there's many answers, but Beach is trying to be part of the answer. So what we've done is we've created a currency which achieves 3 things ata stroke.
Number one, it's stable enough to be a means of exchange,so you know I. Ideally we want this currency to be used,and I can tell you exactly what we think that's going to look like.
It's actually quite a good investment as well,so it's it's going to be deflationary. It's also going to accrue.
What we call reflection, which is kind of like interest. It means that you're basically going to if you hold it, then you're going to get more.
Finally it's funding direct beach cleanups around the world.So1% of every transaction that takes place we give towards people on the ground picking up litter all over the world on beaches.
A further 1% we give towards any kind of blue carbon project,so that could be mangrove forests or kelp farms.
OK,so you've created a currency that's aligned to supporting campaigns that will have apositive impact on the environment.
Putting that aside for a second, let's talk about yourself. You've you've, you're deeply involved in this in this beach token together with a partner andI would like to hear about. Yeah, why are you doing this? What's what's your personal motivation?
What is your connexion to ocean conservation?
Sure, so I've been passionately devoted to trying to solve climate change ina whole variety of ways,I think really, that came from a course I did with Professor Jem Bendell who was the author of the Deep Adaption paper.
An incredible, incredible teacher.
And I did his sustainable leadership course at the University of CumbriaandI'd always been interested in climate change,but I think that impressed upon me more than ever just how urgent this was andhe sort of. He did an incredible job of sort of removing all the psychological barriers that people normally have for to take action and to really devote themselves.
And soI came at the end of that week, just really convinced that this had to be part of my purpose in life. It had to be part of my future.
And so I've tried a variety of ways of putting that into action,so I've started in education, soI used to work for the green Schools project going into primary school, secondary schools around the UK,and inspiring young people to to tackle climate change.
And then more recently in the crypto space.
What is the connexion to the ocean conservation you were talking about climate change,I think was the was was the was the template.But I mean what was the step to ocean conservation?
Well you you can't separate the two. You know that the health of our oceans is intimately connected to the health of our, you know, our atmosphere and tackling climate change and and and.
There's been a couple of sort of previous iterations of beach,but I've always been involved with CT who's who's the partner here and.
And yeah, there's been a sort of couple of previous iterations that he's got me involved in,but but essentially we're both convinced that there must be a way to create a currency which incentivizes planetpositive behaviour rather than extractive growth for the sake of growth behaviour and I think with Beach we've we've hit upon that.
We've actually created a currency which which can basically reward and incentivize people to do the things that we know need doing,but there's no financial reward.
To do that, like picking up litter on the beach.
Like planting mangroves, which currently they haven't managed to work out the economics of that yet.
We think we've we've created a currency which which which works, which makes sense which which has its own internal momentum and logic, because it's very easy to create a currency, but it's very difficult to get people to adopt it.
That's the difficult thing, butI think with beach we've managed to crack that we've made it attractive enough that people will adopt it.
And then at the sametime it has this wonderful mechanism whereby we can actually incentivize planetpositive behaviour. Whether it's picking up litter or growing kelp or whatever it is.
Was there a moment in time when you thought,hey, you know everything I've done until now? I've heard about this crypto currency. You know that that those crypto currencies what I've been done doing up until now.Was there a moment intime when you can remember that when you when you realise that?
Yeah, well, I think meeting CT to be honest, I've I've got a very sort of smorgasbord style CVSo you know I've done a little bit of this a little bit of that.I haven't got four years experience in any one particular area.
But when I met CT andhe explained actually the previous iteration of Beach which was called Earth, which never quite got off the ground.
Which is more like a sort of social media platform. Basically where the like button we'd replaced with a micro donation that you could give to charity.
But anyway, when I heard about this idea, it just combined all the different threads and seeds of experience and interests that I've been pursuing.
Just because Iwas interested in them over the last sort of five years.And when you know when you when you find something that speaks to you that you find deeply meaningful and you know you think you're going to be good atit.
And then that's you know that that's that that's that sort of ikigai, isn't it? Where you know that's where you need to be.
I suppose the problem is with with any of these things is is traction,and I presumed that the the icon idea had problems with traction. It's just when everybody is using it. It's great but to actually get over that valley of death where you've got enough users. Let's talk about the current challenges of a beach token. How are you doing there and how are you gonna get that?
Yeah, well, you've absolutely nailed it.Peter. Uhm,I think there's there's a quote from someone called Hyman Minsky.He said, anybody can create money.The problem is getting people to accept it.
And that's exactly, that's exactly it.I mean,at the moment people are piling into beach because they see it primarily as a good investment.
They can see that it's going to grow in value and accrue yield,but that's really just a means to anend. That's just a way to get people in.
And eventually we want people using this currency and we want people accepting it.So we're going to have a sort of online platform called the Beach Collect.
And the beach collective is basically a sort of ecosystem of all the users of beach.And it's going to have three parts to it beach pay soI can pay for real world purchases via this sort of transaction mechanism.
Uhm Beach gig, which is sort of likea freelancer portal and beach shop which is anonline marketplace for ethical brands and.
And and really, the the community that we're targeting is the kind of work from anywhere remote working crowd.Digital nomads, that kind of crowd.
Who are simultaneously moving through multiple territories using multipledifferent currencies?
Who are living in coworking space is splitting the bill with multipledifferent people from different countries.
Uhm,and generally climate conscious and you know, probably aware that their globe trotting has a footprint and are keen to do something about that,and so that's the kind of market we're targeting.
But as you say, it's difficult to get these things off the ground,and it's difficult to to get over that sort of.
Yeah, they'll get over the hump to a sort of critical mass of people who are using it but but we're getting there and the other the other challenges is actually believe it or not, it's actually finding good projects on the ground where people are picking up litter,so that's that's why your podcast in your community is so useful. We've been contacting some of the people you've interviewed.
In the past and and basically approaching them to, say, look, we'd love to fund you but but if there's anyone out there who's picking up litter, who's doing it on the ground?Who's doing it in the right way? Particularly, who's employing local?
Peopleand then then get in touch with us because because we have a, you know,a pot of money that we want to give away to real good people on the ground who are taking action who?
Maybe they haven't been funded in the past and are doing this justout of the goodness of their own heart or their owntime, or a self funded?
You know we would love to come along and and and help you to do more of what you're doing.
OK, let's let's just talk about that.I think you've touched ona number of characteristics of of the people that you would like reaching out to,but what would be your ideal campaign that you would like to support?
Essentially anywhere in the world. Anybody picking up litter and any other kind of ocean conservation work like coral restoration, mangrove restoration?
So anybody, anywhere who's who's engaging in in ocean conservation of any kind?
We would love to know about.
Question about the future. Where? Where do you see yourself in say one year well?
Well, hopefully we're in one year. We want to get that beach collective off the ground.So we want to have digital nomads all over the world using beach for real world purchases.
But basically we want to create a community,a kind of ecosystem of of people around the world who use beach as their currency as they travel around the world.
Secondly, we want to have that decentralised map of direct climate action taking place in the beach ecosystem. We want to have that up and running that augmented reality world that I spoke about.So we want to have people all over the world.
Picking up litter, doing good for the oceans and then earning beach as a result. You know we want to have ethical brands on board as well.
An ethical surfwear and it doesn't have to be ocean related necessarily, it could.I mean, you know the the IT could potentially one day this probably won't be ina year, but it could be, you know.
Uh, you know, sort of Amazon somewhere where you can buy and sell anything and everything and and butall the time.
All of those transactions 1% is going towards ocean cleanups and1% is going towards blue carbon projects so.
Essentially, the sky is the limit for that one. Initially, we're going to be vetting everyone quite carefully,so it's only ethical brands and products that you can buy through via the marketplace.
And yeah,but we we we there are all these directions that we can grow inand and hopefully just have as many projects on the ground that are being funded and supported by beach that are protecting our oceans.
OK, I see there. There's a lot of ideas bubbling up, but right now you've got this cryptocurrency Beach, which you are areusing to fund ocean conservation projects and you're reaching out to each projects ocean conservation projects around the world. So I really applaud what you're doing,and I wish you all the best.
Well you too Peter and you know thanks so much for for building this community of of amazing people around the world.
It's like you say it's that's the the wonderful thing about the digital world is that you can connect people and build communities.And it's it's.
It's so nice to to know that there are these wonderful people justout of the goodness of their own heart or on their own time and are going out there and picking up litter, which is noteasy work.After all. Let's be honestand you know, I'm just it's just lovely to be ina position to enable these people to do more of what they're doing.
OK yeah, then I'm looking forward to talking again ina in a year to see where you are, see what what's happened.Well, how these,and how these ideas have been developing.
Yeah,and and justfinal word just to say if you're out there, if you're picking up litter. If you're restoring mangrove, if you're looking after the ocean in any way, then please get in touch.
Whether you're a brand, an individual, a small campaign, whatever it is, get in touch. We want to hear from you,and we want to work with you.