[2022] Smart, Commodified and Encoded

Abstract: We explore the implications of blockchain technology for conservation and environmental policy. Drawing on an analysis of 27 initiatives, we examine their goals, assumptions, visions and workings. We find that these initiatives do not yet form a coherent approach, there is too much variety in their environmental focus, and the role of blockchain technology in achieving their goals. However, they share a faith in environmental-commodity markets, a penchant for surveillance and upward accountability, and lack a critical analysis of the main causes of environmental problems. Blockchain initiatives are forming a growing community of praxis and deepen ongoing trends in neoliberal environmental governance, characterised by the increased commodification and global accounting, surveillance and marketisation of environmental goods, services and outcomes. We suggest these services and outcomes fail to challenge the actual root causes of environmental degradation. At the same time, they are not all necessarily flawed by these characteristics. They can render information held by communities financially valuable in ways those communities may find useful. Future research should focus on exploring whether blockchain initiatives may at least translate in concrete environmental outcomes and contribute to the well-being of natural resource managers.

 ISSN = {09724923, 09753133},
 URL = {https://www.jstor.org/stable/27100578},
 author = {Andrea Stuit and Dan Brockington and Esteve Corbera},
 journal = {Conservation & Society},
 number = {1},
 pages = {12--23},
 publisher = {[Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Wolters Kluwer India Pvt. Ltd.]},
 title = {Smart, Commodified and Encoded: Blockchain Technology for Environmental Sustainability and Nature Conservation},
 urldate = {2024-03-11},
 volume = {20},
 year = {2022}


Shared by @CorujaTejedora in FRP-32: Socioeconomic effects of cryptocurrency redistribution in the Costa Rican rural town of Tinamastes.

Statement: Stuit et al. (2022) present the findings of their research focused on the views on success, market, and transformation of 27 blockchain initiatives seeking conservation causes.

Description: According to Stuit et al. (2022), blockchains both provide new ways of effecting change while also replicating the same hierarchical relationships of power that lead to inequality, extractivism and violence.

Comments: Stuit et al. (2022) clearly demonstrate and highlight the reproduction of global power structures by identifying blockchains, not as a fully disruptive economic system, and being swallowed by capitalist behaviour leading to its use for greed, buyers choice (that is to say - buyers determine change and not local communities in need, or environments in need of caring), and commodification of nature. While not all impacts are off, their integrated approach to the problem allows us to perceive the complexities of visualizing blockchains’ promise to the world - decentralized, transparent, deviant.

Evaluations: This article clearly assesses our fears in regards to the reproduction of Global Inequality in the use of Blockchain technology, as well as identifying the commodification of nature and nature conservancy projects present in our research in Tinamastes Costa Rica.

Key Words: Commodification of nature, blockchain capitalism, neoliberal conservation.