BICOWG Q&A with Gregory Landua
Gregory is co-founder and CEO of Regen Network. Regen Network is leading the way toward tracking and funding ecological regeneration using blockchain technology.
Q # 1. Tell us a bit about Regen Network: Who are you, How did you get started, What inspires you, What Are you doing, and Why does it matter?
-This is a complex space, full of technicalities, misconceptions and some say hype or jargon: How would you translate your day-to-day to your grandma?
Gregory: Why does it matter? My observation in life has been that ecological health is something that everyone wants but is also the first thing to suffer when economic decisions are made. When someone needs to take care of their family, or “fiduciary duty” — looking after the health of their family or business — then ecological health suffers. That is so intrinsic to our particular economy, monetary system, and financial system; but…if you look at the broader arch of society, I don’t believe it is a problem of human nature. There are plenty of examples of society succeeding in grounding economic and ecological health and connecting those two. That observation is at the core of what started Regen Network: Our social economy does not have to be at the cost of environmental health. Then asking, if that’s true — if ecological, economic, and societal health are aligned, how do we accomplish that? How do we connect the social-economic value, and how we identify wealth status and money? How do we connect that directly to ecological health? That’s really the big connection. The economic value to ecological health [equals] Regen Network.
So some of the things that have inspired me are examples of people, businesses, regions where this is happening organically, where people are intrinsically motivated to care for ecological health even at the expense of their economic health and well-being. So if we can realign eco[logical] and economic health… The difficulties of reconnecting value to ecological health have to do with how we verify and monitor and achieve consensus about what ecological health is; and how that process generates something that we all believe in. That’s the core problem [that] the Regen Network community is working on day in and day out. We bring in satellite data, blockchain, Earth science, different statistical methods, AI, ancestral and traditional wisdom — all tools used to provide consensus in a way that everyone trusts and agrees with. And that’s a scientific process, a financial process, but at its core, it’s a social process involving creating consensus about what is real. That’s why blockchain is at the core of what we do — because it is a foundationally social technology. It maintains consensus around the state of that network. We’re creating a network that allows people to create a consensus about the ecological state.
Q #2 What is the most misconstrued or misunderstood element about space? How can we rectify them? How are you doing so?
It firstly depends on what “the space” is… Regenerative finance is very new and carbon markets and climate finance are less new, but in the scheme of things, still pretty new. So in that, there are misconceptions; so, there are some restraints. I think the biggest is that crypto is the environment — that’s a broad misunderstanding… Bitcoin and PoW are bad for the environment, I think there are different ways to talk about that misunderstanding… I think that’s half true and that’s complex, and there are ways in which crypto can be bad, so it’s important to acknowledge that…so BICOWG’s work in transparency and its impact in the blockchain industry, and helping to offset that impact…I think that proof of stake and blockchain 2.0 and 3.0 consensus mechanisms are not really as detrimental to the environment. They are about as detrimental to the environment as surfing to the environment is. Different people draw their thresholds in different places. Cannot lump proof of stake as environmentally destructive. While bitcoin uses the energy of a small country, regen uses the network of 50 families consensus — and that’s a huge difference. Regen Network and proof of stake networks …. Oftentimes, people are flippant and think Bitcoin is bad. So how can you do something good? So you have to go through that process…but that’s not really the point in terms of what Regen Network does… We use highly efficient decentralized technology. You wouldn’t want to use Bitcoin to do what we’re doing.
Q#3 You’re a pioneer in this space, having worked nose to the ground for years, what was your ‘aha’ moment that pushed you to see Regen Network through?
Very early, very very early, the genesis moment had a clear experience of what needed to be true in order for our human economy to be a force of regeneration instead of degeneration, and that’s kept me going through tough, challenging circumstances. Going back to that initial source of inspiration.
Q #4 What do you see in terms of opportunities (like refi) and challenges (like statutory regulations or broader usage among Web2 users)
There are significant opportunities in creating more transparent finance industries, including ecological assets that are financial assets backed by ecological itself transforms…transparent, and efficient financial institutions also transform what finance means…there’s an interesting opportunity for finance to serve ecological health and people as an instrument to service to health as opposed to an instrument feeding its own growth. That’s going to happen if we have the intention and if we work for it. It won’t evolve naturally, people need to exercise willpower. From a regulatory perspective, there are ways in which we need to be cautious to not over-regulate and not to let it simply…there is a role of a social contract and social regulation….optimistic about the regulatory environment…looks like the US is taking a pretty sane approach.
Q # 5 The crypto, blockchain space is very noisy. How do you identify, and track good conversations or projects to follow?
That’s a hard question, I think the first way and the way I approach this is through social filters. Over the years, I’ve decided who to trust and I filter things through that. I try to find the smartest people who are philosophically aligned with my perspective on the world. Pruning and choosing what to focus on and double on, because it’s so easy to get distracted and dispersed, you start to get a sense of different approaches and communities. It’s all about communities. So as you build communities, the dangerous side is this develops into a filter bubble.
First off, I think you have to mix the medium of engagements — so, you can’t just use Twitter and Discord, or can’t just use forums like Reddit. There’s this idea that there are essentially four big lineages of user experience for information: boards, forums…there are live chats, Twitter. Mixing and matching. So, if I’m going to get involved with something, I’m going to check Regen’s forum, for instance, where people from the community engage. I’ll engage with projects with engagements. Another filter: if I go to a blockchain process, and they don’t have an active Github, I won’t spend time. I disqualify platforms as a scam if there is no Github engagement. If people don’t want to be open…it’s my way of understanding if it’s real, or transparent. Github and technical documentation and posts are where I get my info. Is it compatible with Regen? That is what I always look at. In the Refi space, there are people with great ideas and intentions, but they don’t have anything yet. Transparency is really key.
Q# 7 Can you share the work designed to incentivize offset of carbon footprint through the use of tokenized carbon credits and integration into existing yield generating opportunities in DeFi and indexes?
There are two parts of the equation: one is having good carbon credits to do the offsetting with. There’s a lot of work on both sides of that to offset carbon footprints. Regen is working on the Cosmos programs and building an on-chain offsetting module so that people can use a standard tool to purchase credits and provide evidence that they have offset. Regarding offsetting in the blockchain offsetting, you can have different carbon footprints depending on where you live, so we are going to develop reporting and verification standards. People currently offset to the worst-case scenario — but over time, we need to develop the tools so people can prove that their offsetting is something better than the worst possible scenario. It’s really important: Offsetting doses does not work unless people are committed to reducing emissions. The baseline is to make sure there’s a price for carbon emissions, so we’re paying for the work we’re doing and sequestering the carbon into soils and carbon. If you’re paying to pollute, that means you’re going to pollute less.
Q# 8 We would love to know what projects are you currently working on — apart from BICOWG or any recent updates at Regen.
Regen Network is what I’m working on the most…It’s a very pluralistic network. I work across different networks where I think about carbon accounting and the Cosmos community and Osmosis… Because Regen is originating assets working to offset…I spend a lot of time with developers, and [and with] investors in the broader Cosmos ecosystem. And of course, I try to work on my maple-sugar farm.
Q#9 We’re standing on the shoulders of giants. What have you learned? How are you paying homage to these giants? Is there a dream opportunity, circumstance, or partnership that could see that through?
On the technical layer, the way we pay homage is to really commit to pulling our weight for engineering in the cosmos ecosystem — open science and open engineering in collaboration with this broader community. We try to tackle big problems with researchers. Funding that and contributing that. That means not just developing our little side of things, but having a broad sweep and making sure we’re contributing to significant pieces of work. Then on the economic and ecological side of things — not the science and tech, but the economic and market theory side of things, I think we try to do our best to identify leading thinkers and make sure to acknowledge where work is coming from and have a solid understanding for the research and prior art in the space. I will say it’s a little hard on that reality — it’s harder on the carbon market because it is not as open as the engineering…where there’s a strong open culture. On the carbon side of things, that’s not necessarily true. Miles to go to build a strong community around trial and error.
Q#10 Anything you’d like to add or say to the people reading this interview with you?
We need to be brave. The world is really unstable right now. We just really need to be brave in investing our energy in investing things that matter. We can’t afford to lose hope. We need to invest our energies in building, and cooperating to have a long-term positive impact. We can’t despair and not build trees; we can despair and not build the tools that we need. Be brave to build the things that we know we need to build together.