How do we avoid using land-based peoples as vehicles of further financial wealth concentration?

(this conversation started in the thread “Proposal #4 Signalling Proposal” )

We could also call this thread:

  • How can Regen Network promote self-governance, sovereignty, and autonomy of land-based peoples?
  • How can Regen Network promote real cultural and ecological regeneration, and not a speculative bubble that moves a lot of money without achieving real regeneration?

Threats to consider (maybe each one could have its own thread, but to get started, let’s use this thread):

  • speculative bubble
  • further wealth concentration, i.e. increased economic inequality
  • intermediaries and prospectors (especially greedy, dishonest people)
  • loss of sovereignty
  • land grabs

Maybe the thread about Regen Ledger uses besides credits will be relevant to this thread.

The example I started earlier:

…continuing that example:

If the oil company didn’t retire the credit, then they could wait for the price of the credit to rise and then sell the credits at a profit. Considering that the credits might have been sold by a federation of forest peoples in order to finance their community processes, or a farmer growing potatoes and wheat, I would prefer that all financial value generated by the credits go to those forest peoples or farmers, and not to the oil company – more profits to the oil companies based on the labor of forest peoples and farmers would just be another repetition of the system my family is trying to compost, where the financially wealthiest companies in the world profit off the financially poorest people in the world, and then use their money to keep hurting more people.

Would it be possible to create a credit batch, class, and/or type that is limited to only one transfer? This would be similar to something mentioned elsewhere: marking certain credits as retired at the moment they’re minted. This way we know that all the financial value of the credits went to the people who created them, not to brokers, intermediaries, and others looking to extract value without contributing value all while free-riding on the good reputation of the people doing the real work – there’s a long history of certain people using the names and images of native peoples (and others) to sell t-shirts, NGO projects, weapons, and many other things, often without their permission, and we don’t want to see that repeated with ecosystem service credits.

Thinking long term, I guarantee that if credits based on my family and neighbors protecting and regenerating the forest are sold to an oil company or even an organic fair trade clothing company or some other nice people, and then they hold the credits while the price rises, and then sell the credits for a profit… if that happens, federations of native peoples and farmers all over the world are going to reject this system of “a marketplace of credits.” People are sick and tired of being used, and the ecosystem service credit scheme is already kind of suspect from the perspective of land-based peoples: oil companies give us money to regenerate our territory, but they keep doing harm elsewhere and to the climate? That’s already sub-optimal, and if people hear that the credit purchasers profit by holding and reselling, that will break people’s trust in this system.

Another way to talk about this is:

  • living systems (that include humans) are mentally divided into “services” that they “perform”.
  • those “services” are financialized – they’re given a value in some currency, based on either some market created by someone, or by other decision making methods.
  • you know what happens next with financialized assets: speculative bubbles!!!
  • and you know what happens while a speculative bubble inflates: a bunch of scams and meaningless projects get funded.
  • and you know what happens next with speculative bubbles: they burst!!!
  • and when a speculative bubble bursts: the people on the ground lose, the people behind those assets, they lose.

So, how do we avoid using land-based peoples as vehicles of further financial wealth concentration? How do we avoid a speculative bubble that in the long term hurts living systems instead of regenerating them?

Is it enough to issue credits in a retired, non-transferrable state?

Are there any historical examples of speculative bubbles that benefited the underlying assets? As far as I understand, speculative bubbles always hurt the real things they’re based on, like the sub-prime mortgage situation that hurt a lot of families, and the commentaries I’ve read about fake or poorly run solar panel companies sucking up government money and achieving nothing.

There’s also the matter of “once you sell it, it’s not yours.” How does this relate to peoples’ sovereignty and autonomy to live in their territory in the ways they wish to? Seems that credit design has a lot to do with this, and so does credit issuance and intermediaries.

For example, suppose some intermediary organization (such as an NGO or a development bank or a private individual) shows up in a native community with a contract to sign, saying that the community will get paid a certain amount if they protect their forest. The intermediary person tells the community lots of other things, maybe lies and maybe truth, in order to convince the community to sign. The community signs the contract, and then months or years later finds out that A) they aren’t allowed to cut any trees or hunt anymore, and B) that intermediary is making twice as much money as what they’re paying the community.

The more carbon credits and other ecosystem service credits are worth, the more dishonest, greedy people are going to show up trying to steal land from communities and push unfair contracts on them. This ranges from carbon credit prospectors, to companies with lots of capital who are looking for investment opportunities, to governments that have a long history of stealing native lands and ruthlessly displacing small-holder farmers.

Many of these threats are from the carbon market in general, and the geopolitical situation where war and greed get rewarded. Regen Network is trying to turn that tide, while still participating in certain parts of the current political and economic system.

So, how can Regen Network be useful, instead of continuing the long historical trend of using land-based peoples as vehicles of further financial wealth concentration?

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Absolutely correct and I would argue one of the most important threats to Regen. We stand to loose legitimacy and trust and thereby risk damaging the Regenerative movement more than benefiting it. To be honest, this should freak everyone out like crazy :scream:

My proposal is to invite stakeholders ASAP in these conversations, even before we’ve figured out how to onboard them as DAO’s. This would include the Voice of Nature, which is a very helpful stakeholder to remind us of our human limitations. Something akin perhaps to the practice of asking what people 7th generations down the line would say/inherit.

Principles that I have found helpful in tech dev are:

Keen to hear others’ views! So happy we’re having this conversation at what’s still an early stage : )

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Here are some analysis and proposals from indigenous peoples, other land-based peoples, and scientists, to read and watch: