A Message From our Founder

Turning the Sustainable Development Goals into a Constitution for the Enlightened Traveler

Nov 21, 2019 · 6 min read
Matt Baer, Founder and CEO of KeyoCoin

I’ve always admired the way that travel can change the way we see the world. By opening our eyes to new people, places, and experiences, it has a rare ability to shatter our preconceptions and grant us greater perspective on the systems that govern our lives.

But I can’t shake the feeling that those of us who are privileged enough to travel frequently should be doing more to justify the cost of our journeys; that we must find new ways to translate our open mindedness into activism, pepper our exploration with positive action, and use what we have learned to fight for a better world when we return home.

Of course, many of us do. As someone who works in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry I’ve met hundreds of people that spend a good deal of their lives exploring the world, and have found that well-traveled people (with the odd exception) tend to have a keen sense of social justice, an awareness of the inter-relatedness of the challenges facing our various societies, and a heartfelt desire to protect our fragile galactic marble, and the creatures that roam its surface.

These encounters have given me a belief in the power of travel to change the world, and a faith that most well-meaning and enlightened travelers have at least the motivation, if not the means, to help solve many of the environmental and societal issues that face our global family. We have so much to learn from our neighbors, and there is so much we can do in return.

When I watched Japanese football fans collectively cleaning up the stadiums after their World Cup matches in Brazil, it was impossible not to feel a profound sense of admiration and respect for their behavior, and a curiosity about the deep cultural forces that flow behind it.

When I read that in the Netherlands 60% of journeys in Amsterdam are made by bicycle, I wondered how exactly that happened. Was it a grassroots movement or was it driven by policy? Did a critical mass of cyclists help to improve safety and therefore encourage yet more cyclists on the roads? These questions inspired me to begin dreaming up ways to increase pedal power in California.

And when a close friend visited the Philippines earlier this year and I heard about the mind boggling amount of plastic waste that ends up in the ocean (much of it originating in the US) I felt a strong urge to do something about it. I know I’m not alone.

The difficult part is knowing precisely how to help. We live in an information economy, so seeing a problem and then doing the research to understand the forces behind it doesn’t take much. The real leap, and one that usually requires a helping hand, is actually rolling up our sleeves and doing whatever it takes to make a difference.

Even with the best intentions in the world, traveling with a conscience in 2019 can be a moral minefield, and the fear of somehow making matters worse can be quite paralyzing for the well-meaning traveler. Voluntourism has been criticized for taking jobs from local laborers, or subsidizing people that run orphanages like human zoos, yet with no household name helping people to navigate this minefield, there is no way of truly knowing whether your contribution is a force for good.

But there is so much that people can do! Thousands upon thousands of small acts of solidarity and support that can build into meaningful and lasting improvements to the world around us.

When I founded KeyoCoin on the vision of rewarding people for experiencing life, I wanted to create something that made people feel good about their adventures. What better way to achieve this than by giving people the knowledge that their footprints in foreign sands have helped more than they hurt.

It’s why we created the KeyoCoin Social Good Platform, and why we are breathing life into it with a global web of on-demand ‘social good actions’ (small acts of kindness) that travelers can complete wherever they go.

We are guided on this mission by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A collection of 17 global goals that provide a blueprint for a better, more sustainable, future for all. With our experience in using travel challenges to bring destinations to life, we hope to provide the missing ingredient in achieving these goals.

As Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum put it: “crowd engagement is the missing ingredient of the multi-stakeholder concept”, and with a crowd of over a billion international travelers and even more adventurous locals to engage with, we’re confident that together we can make real progress on the SDGs.

Many of our problems as a society are global. When you throw a plastic bottle in the trash it’s hard to imagine that bottle being fished out of a river by a young boy in the Philippines, but there’s a fair chance that’s exactly where it will end up.

It’s a fact that led campaigners around the Philippines to use the KeyoCoin Social Good Platform to raise awareness of a complete ban on plastic bags in Quezon City. By encouraging users to post photos on Instagram of the ocean in its fragile glory they put pressure on residents and government in other cities to do the same, in the hope that one small city can cause a domino effect around the rest of the country.

In just two weeks, the campaign’s hashtag #SDG14Quezon has become the #1 city focused SDG14 campaign trending on Instagram all over the world. Hundreds of people have taken part in the campaign so far by posting their own content on Instagram, collectively reaching over 15,000 people and counting.

Already the campaign is snowballing, awareness is leading to action, and I’m excited to say that this is just the start. Our platform is proving that it has the power to move people in the Philippines, and soon, the world. It’s just one example of how we’re using the KeyoCoin Social Good Platform to tackle the SDGs, and I can’t wait to share many more.

Right now, we’re looking for collaborators, partners and allies in the race to hit the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. In reality we want to hit many of them long before that deadline. If you work in the social impact space, or work in the travel space and want to do more for the planet and its people, I’d love to hear from you.



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A universal travel rewards cryptocurrency, platform and ecosystem that powers impact and social good actions. Do good, feel good, get rewarded! www.keyocoin.com



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