• Carbon markets are a fundamental tool to accelerate investments into nature and are critical to comprehensive climate action.
  • The Carbon Market Challenge on UpLink was a global call for innovative solutions that can help harness the potential of carbon markets to unlock finance and technologies to support conservation, restoration and land management for people, climate and nature.
  • 12 Top UpLink Innovators have been selected and will receive support to meet experts, collaborators and potential funders who can help accelerate their solutions and scale their impact.

Nature underpins our global economy, generating approximately $44 trillion of global economic value and potentially delivering up to one-third of the required global net emissions reductions by 2030. However, without the necessary finance channelled into nature to ensure its resiliency, we won't stand a chance. Currently, USD $133 billion a year flows into nature, with public funds making up 86% and private finance 14%.

However, we will need to at least triple this by 2030 if the world is to meet its climate change, biodiversity, and land degradation targets. The carbon markets have been recognized as one of the critical instruments to mobilize and ease private capital flows into high-quality nature activities. If harnessed correctly, the carbon markets can enable organizations and companies to credibly enact their net-zero commitments, rapidly decarbonizing their global operations and also supporting the restoration of nature.

Following four years of record growth, the total value of the global carbon markets grew by over 20% in 2020. This was mainly driven by the increase in net-zero emission targets by corporations – one in five of the world's 2,000 largest publicly listed companies has now made such a commitment – and increasing standards and frameworks to ensure their validity. But we still have a long way to go. To meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, voluntary action through the carbon markets will need to increase 15-fold by 2030 and 100-fold by 2050 from 2020 levels, according to Taskforce for Scaling the Voluntary Carbon Markets (TSVCM).

Innovation is key to ensuring we harness the potential of Carbon Markets

If the carbon markets are to break through the known barriers, including a lack of clarity, transparency, and accountability, we need to recognize ecopreneurs who bring in new skills and perspectives as well as significant partnerships. As the Nature and Net Zero report highlights, unlocking the full potential of natural climate solutions will require vital collaboration between different stakeholders to overcome known barriers, ultimately strengthening carbon markets to ensure they can support climate and nature investment at scale. A strong combination of innovation and collaboration will play a tremendous role in building trust, transparency and expanding the volume and integrity of carbon markets.

In July 2021, at the GreenBiz VERGE Net Zero Conference, 1t.org and the Natural Climate Solutions Alliance launched the Carbon Market Challenge on UpLink in collaboration with funding partner Salesforce - a global call for innovative solutions that harness the potential of carbon markets to help unlock finance and technologies which support conservation, restoration and land management for people, climate and nature.

Through this challenge, we crowdsourced innovative solutions that invest in and advance conservation and land and coastal management programmes and enabling tools that can help bring trust, transparency, and legitimacy to the carbon markets and ideally help advance investments in natural climate solutions. The challenge prioritized technological solutions, business models, and projects that also benefit biodiversity and other ecological systems and uplift indigenous peoples and local communities.

The challenge was run together with supporting partners American Forests, Bayer, Conservation International, Ecosphere+, Nestle, Pachama and Rabobank.

Over 120 submissions from 41 countries were received and carefully reviewed by an Expert Review Panel followed by a final assessment by a Selection Committee, including experts from companies, governments, civil society, standard-setters and fellow ecopreneurs worldwide.

During COP26, we are now excited to announce the 12 innovative solutions selected to join the UpLink Innovator Network of the World Economic Forum. Over the coming months, the Top Innovators will have an opportunity to share and learn from each other, and 1t.org and UpLink will work extensively with this group to scale their impact by promoting their work on our social media platforms, presenting them at our events and introducing them to experts and potential funders who can accelerate their solutions.

Here are the Top 12 Innovators who are harnessing the potential of the Carbon Markets:

Agerpoint aims to provide credibility and transparency to the Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) voluntary carbon marketplace. Through its MRV tool “Know your Carbon”, it is leveraging Agerpoint’s unique ability to create highly accurate 3D plant models and efficiently extract physical measurements and health information using automation and AI.

CarbonStack is building a vetted community of early-stage carbon projects with strong ecological and social benefits. With the aim to expand the pipeline of investment-ready, high quality nature-based carbon projects, they provide their members with the tools, resources and fundraising connections needed to get off the ground towards achieving certification.

Chloris Geospatial Inc provides innovative measurements of natural capital and carbon stock, that use cutting edge remote sensing, machine learning, and ecological science, enabling organizations to confidently invest in Nature-Based Solutions, reduce their carbon footprint, and achieve their sustainability goals.

Climate Vault is on a mission to remove 10 million tons of CO2 emissions by the end of 2023 and successfully stimulate the market for carbon removal. They help reduce and eliminate organizations carbon footprints by using regulated cap-and-trade compliance markets to purchase and vault CO2 permits, so major emitters like utilities and power plants cannot use them to emit.

The Top Innovators chosen as winners of the Carbon Market Challenge on UpLink, in recognition of their work to fight climate change.
The Top Innovators chosen as winners of the Carbon Market Challenge on UpLink.

Katingan Mentaya Project is protecting and restoring 157,875 hectares of peatland forest in Indonesia, making it the largest program of its kind. It generates an average of 7.5 million triple gold certified carbon credits annually, equivalent to taking 2,000,000 cars off the road each year.

MyEasyCarbon help farmers to reduce GhG emissions by 1 TeqCO2/hectare/year and pay them for their efforts to transition from an intensive to a more sustainable agriculture.

MyTrees Trust is on a mission to reduce the loss of natural woodland in Zimbabwe, by replanting, maintaining and restoring affected areas, protecting large areas of intact habitats, and providing rural communities affected by deforestation with alternative sources of income, cooking technologies, and fuels.

Soilify by Earth Analytics India catalyzes capital to enable regenerative agriculture and monitor soil carbon change using high-resolution satellite data and machine learning. They source funding through an impact bond and invest through small-size venture debt, thereby de-risking the shift to regenerative agriculture for farmers until carbon credit proceeds kick in.

Sylvera is on a mission to battle climate change with data. By combining satellite data and machine learning with rigorous research, Sylvera brings greater clarity to carbon markets through independent ratings and deep insights on nature-based offsetting projects worldwide.

Taking Root is helping multinational companies meet their climate commitments and invest in high-quality carbon removals while supporting thousands of farmers to reforest their land and improve their livelihoods.

The Seaweed Company cultivates traceable seaweed at the open sea and produce seaweed in the quantities needed to fully benefit from commercially valuable applications.

Veritree leverages blockchain to provide planting organizations with an integrated planting management platform. The veritree system allows planting organizations to gather ground-level data, manage their projects more effectively, and deliver sponsors a world-class experience.