Global use of land by humans is causing a catastrophe in habitat destruction, species loss, climate change, resiliency decline and more. Currently, this loss is nearly invisible from those who cause it, the primary purchasers and actors in the global economy. A system for transparently assessing, monitoring and managing this land footprint is urgently needed to allow businesses, governments and consumers to pick better products and reduce global land use. The global free-market economy does not have a mechanism for understanding the phsycial, biological and societal boundaries it operates within and it inevitably exceeds them. The economy is a great engine for distributing resources and wealth, but without information on its boundaries - they are ignored. To make the market for for the planet and society we must make it smarter, bringing externality information as close as possible to the fundamental unit of calculation - the transaction. With this layer on top of economics, the market can optimize to properly value and protect land resources. We have mere decades, maybe, to solve this challenge - any solution that proposes to seriously address it must be immensely scalable. So far, the only system that has this speed and scale that humanity has created is the free market. This is the system we must fix.
We propose to create a system that assesses the estimated global land use of every purchase a business or individual makes and reports this data back to the user. The system would build on Carbon Analytics existing carbon footprint engine that produces a carbon footprint in the same way. This land footprint system would allow users to: - Link their accounting system (initially Xero or Quickbooks) or upload an excel file with their purchases - Have each of these purchases assessed for total land use impact - Have the ability to see which of their purchase categories and which suppliers are creating the most land impact - Have the ability to ask these suppliers to perform their own measurement - making the system more accurate and impactful for everyone else This system would work by using Carbon Analytics engine to intake, assess and model the supply chain of each company based on public data about them and their industry. The system then pairs these models with land impact data and apportions total land impact by industry, supplier and ultimately each purchase. The footprint created is not just for the company but all the companies that support that company - the true total impact. This solves a large problem in impact measurement with setting correct boundaries. By setting the boundary at 100% and modelling what is not known, we are able to truly estimate impact and compare companies apples to apples regardless of how much of the supply chain they own or outsource
We are assuming we can find land impact data broken down by industry and country
We are assuming there will be some set of companies or individuals that will be interested to use the resulting data
We are assuming that these actors will use this data to pressure others to measure and manage in turn
We are assuming that with ubiquitous measurement, built into every transaction, there will be enough actors that use the data that it will create a real market signal that land use is costly
You can't manage what you don't measure. Impact measurement is presently largely bespoke, often consultant led exercise that is costly, time consuming and produces highly variable results. This makes impact measurement largely an after-thought - something that happens a year later and sits in a report on a shelf. By digitizing & automating it, we can reduce the cost orders of magnitude, produce results near real-time and offer it to a far wider audience. This can allow meaningful uptake and create real market pressure for companies to measure and manage their impact. This project overcomes the barrier of cost and complexity - any business can measure and manage their global land footprint with this tool. It also overcomes a key chicken / egg barrier of getting good data without companies participating. By modeling both from primary data (individual companies) and system wide (countries and economies) we can model 'around' non-actors in the system.
We are primarly focused on building, resourcing and scaling Carbon Analytics, our platform for accounting integrated carbon measurement. However, to build this project we will be able to: - Develop the underlying impact model - Develop the extension of our technology - Develop front-end user interface for the system We could use help from others to: - Identify early end-users to help us shape the product - Identify additional resources to help invest in the solution, perhaps grant writing - Provide expertise on how to segment and quantify the many types of land use
To complete this project, we need some combination of: - $100k funding or gratis software development resource - 3 pilot customers (we have candidates, but welcome more) - We could use support from some environmental economics students - we have partnerships with programs in the UK, some in the US would be helpful. - Ideally, a board of willing subject advisors + an aligned corporate sponsor would be helpful (Patagonia are you listening? :) )