Roundtable Recap: Scaling ReFi in Web3 to accelerate positive impact


On World Earth Day, Kyoto held its first-ever ReFi Roundtable, bringing together a mega-panel of thought leaders from nine other projects, including KlimaDAO, Ecosapiens, Plastiks, Erable, Arkreen, AlgoFame, Coconut, TreeGens, and CryptoWhales NFT. In this article, we recap the provocative discussion and explore the potential of Regenerative Finance (ReFi) for building a more sustainable future.

How does ReFi contribute to addressing today's most critical environmental and social challenges?

In line with a heightened focus on climate change and sustainability, ReFi is quickly becoming a key player in addressing pressing environmental and social challenges. It serves as a conduit for a diverse array of projects within the Web3 space, fostering liquidity and paving the way for a circular economy. This symbiosis with blockchain technology enhances transparency and accessibility, particularly in crucial sectors like carbon markets and the pursuit of net-zero targets. The synergy between ReFi and blockchain becomes evident as various initiatives, from NFTs for reforestation to ocean protection endeavours, showcase the versatility of this platform in driving collaborative innovation. Each project contributes uniquely, underscoring the potential of ReFi to address multifaceted challenges while nurturing creative solutions across sectors.

Furthermore, ReFi and blockchain unite communities, offering incentives for both profit-making and environmental stewardship. By demonstrating the economic viability of sustainability initiatives, ReFi sparks a shift wherein decision-makers recognise the potential for growth while actively contributing to environmental well-being. This transition towards ReFi marks a significant milestone, where businesses can thrive while championing positive environmental impact.

What are the biggest obstacles hindering widespread adoption of ReFi and how can they be overcome?

When it comes to driving adoption of ReFi, it is crucial to create awareness and demonstrate that investments into sustainability can be a win-win proposition, that it is not just an expense but can also be profitable. However, bridging traditional sustainability with technology, particularly blockchain, is essential for advancing climate solutions. Technology-forward thinkers can offer valuable insights to mainstream sustainability and carbon market players who tend to be policy experts rather than technology experts. Additionally, key concerns like integrity and scale hinder the effectiveness of carbon markets. Presently, the voluntary carbon market is still significantly smaller than the amount of CO2 emitted globally. Blockchain plays a critical role in enhancing transparency and provides the market infrastructure to address these challenges, facilitating the necessary scale-up of climate action with integrity.

How can we effectively attract participants into ReFi and guarantee that they receive a meaningful return on their investments?

Ensuring widespread participation and returns in ReFi involves bridging the gap between traditional investors and the Web3 community's high-growth expectations. While there is a significant pool of investors seeking sustainable options, the lack of accessible assets impedes their engagement. While transitioning speculators into regeneration-focused investors is valuable, attracting institutional capital from traditional climate markets is equally crucial. Establishing financial infrastructure to facilitate investment in sustainable assets is imperative, especially for retail and institutional investors seeking climate-positive opportunities. Leveraging blockchain technology to offer high-integrity credits at lower costs can entice corporates and institutional investors. However, education and awareness play a pivotal role in enticing individuals and institutions from outside the Web3 ecosystem. By showcasing the positive impact and potential returns of ReFi projects, we can attract a broader audience and drive meaningful change.

How can we harness data to evidence the positive impact that ReFi players are making?

Harnessing data to evidence the impact of ReFi initiatives involves leveraging decentralised data networks. Using the renewable energy industry as an example; by encouraging users - particularly communities with rooftop solar-based energy - to contribute data to these networks, valuable insights can be aggregated for future projects. This approach not only benefits Web3 and ReFi but also aids in the transition to a carbon-neutral world by generating renewable energy certificates from the data. Blockchain technology ensures transparency and reliability in this process, facilitating the creation of carbon credits and accelerating global efforts toward carbon neutrality. 

How can education and awareness campaigns within Web3 to effectively promote the understanding and adoption of Decentralised Finance (DeFi)?

Education and awareness play a key role in enticing individuals and institutions from outside the Web3 ecosystem. By showcasing the positive impact and potential returns of ReFi projects, we can attract a broader audience and drive meaningful change. Education within Web3 should prioritise simplifying blockchain complexities for users, drawing inspiration from existing community practices to automate processes seamlessly. Rather than emphasising technical details, the focus should be on demonstrating practical benefits. Additionally, showcasing real-world applications, such as harnessing blockchain to provide evidence of the conversion of plastic into fuels, highlights the tangible impact of Web3 technologies. By engaging with local governments and communities through small-scale initiatives, misconceptions about Web3, such as viewing NFTs solely as platforms for trading digital art, can be addressed. Education plays a pivotal role in fostering interest, understanding, and a broader adoption of DeFi, driving positive change towards a more inclusive and sustainable future.

How can NFTs leverage their ability to bring communities together, to drive adoption and impact?

NFTs possess an extraordinary capacity to bridge the gap between traditional and DeFi by tapping into the universal appeal of art and collectibles. Unlike complex financial concepts, art speaks to individuals on an emotional and intuitive level, making it a powerful tool for engagement. Initiatives can capitalise on this by offering NFT art that not only serves as a medium of expression but also facilitates tangible impact, such as tree planting or supporting environmental causes.

By leveraging the inherent allure of art, these initiatives can effectively engage individuals and brands who may be unfamiliar with the intricacies of Web3 and DeFi. Rather than requiring extensive education on blockchain technology or financial systems, NFT art initiatives offer a more accessible entry point into DeFi.

Moreover, the tangible outcomes associated with NFT art, such as environmental conservation or social impact, resonate deeply with a broad audience, further driving adoption and fostering a sense of community participation. Through storytelling and visual representation, these initiatives communicate complex ideas in a relatable and compelling manner, drawing people in.

What role do DAOs play in the potential scaling of DeFi and broader adoption of Web3 technologies, particularly considering the necessity of governance within projects?

Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) play a crucial role in scaling various aspects of DeFi and facilitating wider adoption of Web3 technologies. While decentralisation is essential, effective governance is equally important for the success of any project or business. DAOs provide a framework for decentralised governance, enabling communication and decision-making among stakeholders worldwide. However, it is crucial to address challenges such as coordination failures and governance attacks. A hybrid governance system, where voting power isn't tradable and is solely controlled by committed members, can mitigate these risks. This approach generates alignment within the DAO community and empowers it to address flaws and evolve autonomously, ultimately enhancing its resilience and effectiveness.

What lessons can the Web3 community take from other sectors on effectively leveraging resources to drive meaningful impact?

One standout example that we can draw influence from is the operational model of certain charities and NGOs. Despite consistent influxes of funding from external sources, some organisations struggle to translate those resources into tangible changes. This underscores the significance of community involvement and the need for initiatives to not only receive support but also to actively engage communities to ensure their efforts yield meaningful results. It's a reminder of the importance of efficient resource allocation and the power of establishing genuine community partnerships.

Listen to the full recording here.

A little more on our ReFi Roundtable panellists…

Frank Morey and Ashton Hunt - Kyoto

Kyoto, the blockchain for carbon markets, was founded by Frank Morey and Ashton Hunt and was specifically designed to revolutionise the voluntary carbon market using blockchain technology. With a launch scheduled for the end of June, Kyoto aims to bring real-world assets on-chain, in the form of carbon credits, through an innovative Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) model. Frank and Ash, who embarked on the Kyoto journey on World Earth Day in 2022 were inspired by the potential of ReFi within Web3, viewing it as a transformative force that will shape the future landscape of DeFi.

Marcus Aurelius - KlimaDAO

With a background in data science and data engineering, Marcus delved into the intersection of climate and crypto three years ago with Klima DAO. Its mission, which is closely aligned with Kyoto's, involves constructing a modern financial infrastructure for voluntary carbon markets and other environmental assets. Launched in October 2021, KlimaDAO brought approximately 5% of all outstanding carbon credits on-chain during its launch event. Since then, the project has facilitated liquidity and fostered the adoption of digital carbon, while exploring expansion into other environmental assets such as renewable energy and biodiversity credits.

Niko Katsuyoshi – Ecosapiens

Niko is CMO for Ecosapiens and is passionate about the intersection of technology and positive impact. Ecosapiens has been in the ReFi space for two years and enables people and brands to make an impact easily and elegantly, mostly using NFTs. Ecosapiens underpins NFTs with all forms of climate asset, such as carbon credits. To date, they have had over 200,000 collectibles minted and worked with several projects whilst also expanding through other Web2 partnerships.

Daniel Garcia – Plastiks

Daniel is both the co-founder and CTO of Plastiks. Platstiks verifies plastic that is recovered from the environment and being recycled. It facilitates the verification through their own methodology and technology built on the blockchain. Plastiks is also collaborating with companies and sports clubs. The project’s mission is to help recover plastic from the environment and make a positive impact on the environment, whilst helping the people who are recovering that plastic.

Vincent Katchavenda – Erable

Vincent is the co-founder and COO of Erable. Erable’s focus lies in offering innovative investment products grounded in three core principles: revenue sharing assets, financing tangible assets, and ensuring transparency in financial flows through blockchain integration. Currently, Erable’s attention is primarily directed towards supporting circular economy companies seeking funding, spanning industries such as electric vehicles, reusable containers in the food sector, and household water recycling systems. Recently, the business acquired a Web 2.0 company and are gearing up to launch approximately five to six projects monthly on its platform, initially bridging between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 with a full transition to Web 3.0 planned for the future.

Abba Garba – Arkreen

Abba heads products and partnerships at Arkreen, a Web 3.0 digital infrastructure for distributed renewable energy resources. The network aims to build up this infrastructure in a decentralised way from the bottom up by incentivising renewable energy prosumers before monetising their flexibility and demand response for carbon neutral applications. Key initiatives include launching community-owned solar panel programs, allowing individuals and communities to contribute data for tokenised carbon credits.

Bilal Brahim – Algofame

Bilal is the founder of Algofame and was formerly a philosophy teacher who transitioned his focus to farming in 2021. Together with his team he has developed a deeptech solution helping farmers worldwide to activate food autonomy and mutual empowerment. The FAME app, accessible on iOS and Android, hosts around 3,000 farmers, offering a free marketplace for jobs and products. FAME prioritises financial inclusion through various tools like payments, swaps, and lending, aiming to generate passive income for all participants. Additionally, they have established two types of DAOs: a global DAO and a novel local DAO, empowering local communities to govern and grow from within.

Alejandro Adon – Kokonut Network

Alejandro, is the founder of Kokonut based in the Dominican Republic. Kokonut aims to empower underserved communities by providing access to funding for community-owned agricultural projects. Their framework fosters inclusivity, ensuring all stakeholders have a voice, unlike in traditional corporates. Centralizing funding sources enhances food quality throughout the supply chain. Alejandro's initiatives include Kokonut  Network, a blockchain-based co-op of farms promoting multi-crop cycles that benefit the environment. Additionally, the Kokonut Foundation serves as the non-profit arm, addressing various issues from education to systemic challenges, aiming to create sustainable public goods independent of perpetual grants. These initiatives leverage the Kokonut Framework to establish purpose-driven, behaviourally impactful farms.

Jimi Cohen – The Treegens

Jimi, a passionate advocate for environmental causes, recently achieved a remarkable feat by setting a new Guinness World Record for the most trees planted in 24 hours. Jimi's dedication stems from a deep belief in sustainability which is aligned with initiatives like Kyoto. Through TreeGens, Jimi envisions a world where tree planting is accessible to everyone, integrating tokenised mangrove trees and pioneering "proof of plant" mechanisms. Treegen’s approach includes gamification elements like leaderboards and soulbound tokens, making tree planting engaging and rewarding for all participants. 

Nick Longo – CryptoWhales NFT

Nick Longo, founder of CryptoWhalesNFT and the visionary behind Monthly Earth Day, is dedicated to leveraging NFTs for positive impact. Through CryptoWhalesNFT, Nick channels his passion for environmental causes by personally funding tree planting initiatives and supporting global reforestation and ocean preservation efforts. Monthly Earth Day, a movement initiated by Nick in September 2022, has gained momentum worldwide, with participants collectively planting over 30,000 trees and removing approximately 5,000 pounds of trash. Nick's mission extends beyond the Web3 community, as he actively engages non-Web3 users through local and global cleanup events, fostering broader participation in environmental activism.