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Climate CoLab Winners’ Spotlight: Sorin Simplaceanu and Bertalan Vecsei

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This spotlight is part of a series from MIT ClimateX about Climate CoLab 2018 contest Winners. Original post can also be found here: https://climatex.mit.edu/climate-colab-winners-spotlight-sorin-simplaceanu-and-bertalan-vecsei

How can blockchain technology be utilized for climate action?

Sorin Simplaceanu & Bertalan Vescei have developed the concept of ClimateCoop, a blockchain based digital platform for collaborating on and fulfilling the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). ClimateCoop lays out a framework for climate projects (idea, proposal, consortium, and funding, followed by execution), and helps connect interested parties. It ultimately seeks to bring together activists, researchers, and NGOs through a digital platform.

Simplaceanu believes that a blockchain-based distribution platform will “allow decentralization and localization of climate or other SDG related ventures while still keeping them compliant with regulations.” Individuals or organizations using ClimateCoopcan propose ideas and projects, and can collaborate and participate with other users. The platform can also store necessary metadata and information regarding resources for the projects; allowing for transparency in the flow of information. Moving projects into a digital space increases accessibility and enhances efficiency.

Simplaceanu states “my main expertise is technical, being a specialist in digitalization and automation of processes in organizations. These SDGs were new and interesting for me, and had clearly touched a nerve.” Another important feature of ClimateCoop is that it is governed by the community, rather than a single government or individual authority. The use of blockchain technology facilitates this. Simplaceanu explains “the platform we have designed is necessary for the challenge of creating synergic effects between different projects within the SDG space.”

While the project is rooted in Germany, Simplaceanu and Vescei note that it has no limitations geographically due to its digital nature. They also indicate it is compatible with what they describe as “modern social patterns,” or the use of technology for collaboration. ClimateCoop has gained significant traction since its debut; in addition to winning the MIT Climate CoLab contest, it was presented at the Innovate4Climate conference and will also be presented to the UN Environment Assembly in Kenya in 2019. Reflecting on their Climate CoLab win, Simplaceanu states: “As we are a strong team in the technical field, it was important to get an affirmation from the jury and other SDG domain-experts saying that the platform we have designed is necessary.” The team’s innovative use of blockchain technology to address the UN’s SDGs illuminates how technology can be utilized for climate justice.