Minting Started: World’s First Nature-Backed Currency MERIT

Single.Earth News
June 22, 2022

MERIT was created to protect nature with every daily transaction people make. Today, on June 21st, 2022, we celebrate issuing the first MERIT tokens to landowners who keep their forests growing, as Single.Earth rolls out a new tool to finance nature protection. 

MERIT is the first currency minted from nature. It represents – and protects – the work nature does to sustain life by sequestering carbon and hosting biodiversity. The tokens are issued to landowners based on the ecological value of their lands for as long as they keep their natural resources in good health. 

Protecting existing biodiverse forests and allowing them to grow into their full ecological potential is one of the most immediate, cost-effective, and proven solutions to bend the curves of biodiversity loss and climate change. While proforestation maximizes nature-based carbon sequestration, it also provides unparalleled ecosystem services such as biodiversity enhancement, water and air quality, flood and erosion control, public health benefits, low-impact recreation, and scenic beauty. 

Rebuilding the economy upon nature

Ultimately, Single.Earth strives to rebuild the entire economy upon nature by introducing the world's first nature-backed currency. Economic growth would become dependent on the amount of intact nature on Earth. MERIT would become the building block and glue of a sustainable economy that balances consumption with nature's capabilities.

“Some 2,600 years after the first coins were minted, we are today minting a currency based on the work of nature. It’s a huge leap for the world of money,” said Merit Valdsalu, CEO and co-founder of Single.Earth.

“The current system leaves nature as a beggar on the street, looking for pennies from passers-by — but nature is a decisive part of our existence. The only way forward is to bring nature’s ecosystem services into the economy on an equal footing with all other services,” Valdsalu said.

This mission is shared by Valdsalu's co-founder, life-long engineer, and tech visionary, Andrus Aaslaid: “We can describe the total capacity of the economy through the work the planet does for us, reflected in the total circulation of the cryptocurrency instrument. As we mint money based on what the ecosystem does (like we do at Single.Earth), we can only have as many assets in circulation for spending at any given time as possible without destroying everything around us.”

Read more from Andrus Aaslaid, co-founder and CTO of Single.Earth: Is the Future of Money Nature-Backed? 

Financing nature protection

Our mission is to save the natural world around us. And to achieve that, nature protection needs to become profitable for landowners.

Until now, nature has been monetized primarily as raw material. Landowners earn money from extracting natural resources: taking timber out of forests and digging peat out of wetlands. It hasn't been a viable business model to *not* destroy nature.

While healthy ecosystems have an enormous existential value, they have little economic value in the modern extractive economy. This ultimately leads to the continued depletion of nature and natural resources on our finite planet. The majority of the Earth’s land area – 70% of it! – has already been transformed by humans. This is pushing us on the verge of irreversible climate change and biodiversity loss. 

And while the world has (finally) become aware of the climate crisis, there’s still a long way to go for everybody to understand that it’s not the only existential threat we’re facing as humankind. Not only have we exceeded the critical planetary boundary for climate change, but also the threshold of biodiversity loss and nitrogen cycles.

Every day about 150 species are wiped off of the planet Earth. That’s roughly six species every hour, or one every 10 minutes. So by the time you’ve finished reading this blog post, it’s quite likely that we’ve lost another unique form of life forever.

MERIT is here to change that by offering landowners in all sizes the possibility to earn income for keeping nature intact. 

Starting from the first mint

In April 2022, we launched our closed beta platform for 1,500+ pre-registered landowners who could easily insert their land data and receive information about forest coverage and carbon sequestration (preliminary assessment). Close to one million hectares of land was added in the first five weeks. 

For this early phase, we can automatically verify and onboard landowners (min 3 hectares of forest) in the European Economic Area (EEA) and review those outside the EEA case by case. We aim to expand to wetlands, grasslands, and other natural resources in the upcoming years.

The first forest owners who have passed the necessary onboarding procedures (including KYC and AML checks) will receive the first MERIT token in their wallets. The first version of the MERIT token represents 100 kg of CO2 sequestered by a specific plot of land. To move to a more holistic approach – beyond carbon – indicators of biodiversity and carbon stocks will be incorporated into the next iteration of the token. 

The sale of tokens will open later in 2022. Landowners will be able to sell the MERIT tokens they’ve accumulated by the time. That also marks when the first adopters of the nature-based economy can purchase the first MERIT tokens and contribute to bringing that vision to life. 

The first MERIT minting is a historic moment. It’s the first crucial step towards integrating nature protection into our everyday lives and the economy. 

A global team of 70+ people in science, technology, and business

Single.Earth is a GreenTech company with significant venture capital funding for scientific research and innovation development in nature-based solutions. We are driven by a mission to integrate the protection of natural resources into the modern economy, making it a new standard of sustainability. 

To enable a nature-based financial system, our 20+ strong science team (one of the country's largest research institutions of ecologists) built a Digital Twin of planet Earth to describe how nature works. The interdisciplinary team consists of highly skilled researchers and data scientists with advanced degrees and backgrounds in carbon accounting, environmental and climate change modeling, ecosystem services, biodiversity, public health, etc. 

We combine ecological sciences, big data analysis, machine learning, blockchain, and geospatial engineering to: 

  1. assess the entire Earth for its ecosystem services and 
  2. give nature's features a digital value in MERIT tokens. 

Take action today 

The nature-backed MERIT currency helps to (re)build a world where nature is directly connected to the economy: the more nature we have, the wealthier we are. 

Today, we take a bold first step towards building that future by minting the first MERIT tokens to landowners for protecting their biodiverse forests. 

MERIT is much more than a cryptocurrency or its technology – it’s a tool to start living in harmony with nature. By using MERIT, everyone can easily contribute to transferring the economy towards sustainability. MERIT aims to be accessible and secure for anybody, regardless of your crypto experience. We need everyone to take action to halt climate change and biodiversity loss.

Single.Earth is on a mission to help preserve and restore existing ecosystems.

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