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The Projects on NEAR Helping Tackle Climate Change

Going Green with NEAR

NEAR, the first carbon neutral Proof-of-Stake ecosystem, is fast becoming a hub for apps looking to reimagine the world through blockchain, but also a space for developers looking to build solutions to tackle climate change. DeFi, DAOs, NFTs, and other projects are being built atop a super fast and secure protocol that is also, thanks to NEAR’s Nightshade sharding approach, highly energy efficient and sustainable.

With the global climate events of the last year, NEAR has partnered with organizations and incubated the development of several startups to help tackle some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems.

The initiatives we’re about to explore below are just the start of what we believe will be a paradigm shift in how individuals and groups can help fund and creatively solve climate challenges.

As part of an ongoing content series exploring crypto and the environment, we’re focusing on the projects and the ideas already taking shape in and around NEAR.

If you have a green or climate-related project you’d like to launch on NEAR, be sure to check out the resources at the end of this article.

South Pole

The first major step in NEAR becoming climate neutral meant asking South Pole, a leading Zurich-based project developer and global climate solutions provider, to audit NEAR’s carbon footprint. We also asked South Pole for guidance on the best possible ways of reducing our carbon footprint; but also to recommend partners for carbon offsetting projects.

South Pole’s audit of NEAR was comprehensive. It included NEAR Foundation’s carbon footprint, the Core Collective (all employees and contractors working on the protocol), and all blockchain validators. All told, the firm discovered that NEAR generates 174 tons of C02 annually, making it 200,000 times more energy efficient than Bitcoin, largely on account of NEAR’s PoS instead of Proof-of-Work protocol.

Vitally, with NEAR’s Nightshade sharding approach, which is built to be able to scale up and down depending on the network’s needs, will be able to both grow throughput while keeping our carbon footprint as low as possible.

The firm recommended NEAR partner with Kariba Forest Protection in Zimbabwe, Vichada Forest Restoration in Colombia, and other projects to offset its carbon footprint. The Kariba Forest Protection project protects 785,000 hectares of forests on Lake Kariba’s southern shores, near the Zimbabwe-Zambia border. A massive biodiversity corridor, it comprises four national parks and eight safari reserves. The project is involved in reforestation (to offset carbon), protecting vulnerable and endangered species, and helping to implement a number of community-focused initiatives.

Vichade Forest Restoration is located near the Venezuela-Colombia border, and was formerly a savannah. The restoration project involves both reforestation and afforestation (planting forest where none previously existed) as well as biodiversity protection and ecosystem regeneration. The afforestation projects produce high quality hardwoods, trap a large volume of CO2, and promote habitat for native wildlife.

Open Forest Protocol

Open Forest Protocol is a new project that addresses a major limitation of global nature-based climate solutions — the lack of a transparent, unified, and budget-friendly measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) system.

OFP is doing just that by bringing an easy-to-use MRV platform built on the NEAR blockchain. To do this, OFP worked in close collaboration with On a Mission, a non-profit focusing investment in curated reforestation/carbon offset projects, and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) to ensure its MRV methodology is scientifically rigorous and globally scalable.

NEAR-based smart contracts allow OFP to make both forest monitoring and carbon financing open source and transparent. To do this, land projects register on OFP and become searchable via the OFP Explorer. A field mobile app records forest monitoring data on the ground, which is then verified by validators around the globe using a system of satellites, IoT, drone, and AI technologies.

All data collected through this means is stored on a distributed ledger and made open source. When forestry projects are successful, project developers and leaders are able to unlock access to carbon financing.

Green NFTs

After NFTs exploded into the public consciousness in 2020, the blockchain industry now finds itself in a NFT boom. While it’s been an exciting year for artists, celebrities, collectors, and other early adopters of the minting, buying, and selling of NFTs, many observers have expressed worry about the PoW technology on which many NFTs run, which is known to have a large-scale, negative effect on the global ecosystem.

While NEAR’s carbon neutral PoS is far more energy efficient than PoW platforms, we wanted to demonstrate that enjoying NFT culture and being eco-minded are not mutually exclusive. So, in June 2021, NEAR Foundation launched Green NFTs, a project that encouraged eco-conscious artists to create art to be sold on a South Pole store on Mintbase, a NEAR-based NFT marketplace.

Half of the proceeds from the NFT art sales go to the artist, while the rest are distributed to a number of certified climate action projects developed by South Pole.

Head over to Mintbase to check out the Green NFT collection.


Another NEAR and Mintbase project is Raiz, which is using NFTs to finance vertical farms in under-used urban spaces. Raiz’s Emiliano Gutierrez believes these urban areas can be transformed into optimal growing environments for foods destined to be harvested for local communities and restaurants, and not for distant global markets.

Digital artworks of plants will correspond to impact metrics like water saved or carbon emissions avoided, both of which are major concerns in traditional agriculture, especially for industrial farms. In the long term, Raiz plans to bridge the physical and digital worlds by transforming local hydroponic systems into investable assets, which will allow people across the globe to have wider access to tokenized environmental and local impact.

By using DeFi, Raiz will be able to use digital assets to trace food origins as well as where positive impact is happening at the local level. Once Raiz develops impact tokenization, Gutierrez says, “This would represent a hydroponics system that is equal to approximately 100 plants a month.”


Yet another NFT and DeFi green project is Sisu, a DAO in development that will help people network and collaborate in solving a number of climate action projects. The project’s leader is climate activist Angela del Sol Varela, a Colombian-American art curator and social entrepreneur who took note of the NFTtree projects popping up on blockchains, but wanted to expand NFTs to other climate-related initiatives.

NEAR is partnering with Sisu (Finnish for “inner strength”) to help accelerate climate solutions in a transparent, non-tamperable way. Sisu’s first project will be a collection of NFTrees that will debut at this year’s Art Basel Miami, and is currently developing a blockchain-based system that will verify where trees are being planted, measure their growth, and verify that they are being cared for.

Build Your Green Project on NEAR

If you’re looking to bootstrap your climate-related or green project onto NEAR, visit the NEAR Grants, where you can read up on NEAR Startup grants and Open Source & Public Goods grants, which are specifically for your project’s open-source components.

We also recently announced a Proximity Labs’ $350 million Grants DAO for NEAR DeFi projects. DeFi builders working on climate and green projects (or any project, for that matter) can express their interest in the Grants DAO via this form.

About NEAR

NEAR is a high-performance blockchain that is designed to be super-fast, incredibly secure, and infinitely scalable. NEAR’s vision is to create a network that enables people to re-imagine finance, creativity and community in new and inclusive ways.

NEAR is built by an award-winning team of engineers and entrepreneurs to be simple to use, inclusive and good for the environment. NEAR is backed by top VCs such as A16Z, Pantera Capital, Electric Capital, Dragonfly Capital, Coinbase Ventures,, and Baidu Ventures.

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Twitter: @NEAR_Blockchain & @NEARProtocol

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