Tuesday Project Spotlight: Aquari
Most of us in the U.S. have seen plastic on our beaches or riverbanks at some point in the last few years. But the issue of marine litter and plastic pollution is global problem. The U.N. estimates that plastic pollution in bodies of water across the world could more than double by 2030, leading to “dire consequences for health, the economy, biodiversity and the climate.”1
A new blockchain startup called Aquari is offering a creative approach to combatting this problem: creating a token to financially incentivize people to join the fight against marine pollution. This project is trying to create the best of both worlds by blending decentralized finance with social good. As they explain, “What if you can make money while saving the planet? The more you contribute the more you save the planet. The more you save the planet the higher your payouts.”2
It’s a promising idea, delivered through Aquari’s three pillars: cleaning up rivers and beaches, funding conservation organizations, and educating communities. The education component is especially intriguing to the BL4SG Center. As Aquari funds conservation projects with its partners, it will also work to create “education models” in locations where environmental cleanup is happening:
Impoverished communities, especially those that reside along heavily polluted riverbanks, especially benefit from this. In these areas, education regarding pollution prevention is lacking and many cases absent altogether. Whether the school system or local government is failing to educate the population isn’t our concern. We educate and spread awareness with the assumption that learning about pollution prevention and proper waste management is a new concept.3
By combining conservation projects with education, Aquari is working to clean up past pollution and prevent future environmental damage.
The use of decentralized finance adds another unique dimension to this project. Aquari is using “tokenomics”4 and blockchain technology to incentivize conversation efforts. Here’s how it works: every time there is an Aquari token transaction, it is taxed at 10%.5 A 3% portion of that tax goes to Aquari token holders, which both generates liquidity and rewards investors. Another 3% of the tax goes to the Aquari Foundation to support grants to conservation organizations. Token holders vote on how the grants are allocated; grants can be used in various ways, such as to “explore new projects, purchase heavy machinery, hire staff, or organize education modules.”6 The last 4% of the tax goes to a liquidity pool to enable token holders to liquidate at any time. But these funds are placed in a time-locked wallet and are only available in accordance with an expiry date set by the community, making them “un-ruggable.”7 Aquari’s funders were previously the victims of a cryptocurrency scam, so they are especially proactive about transparency.
Will there be a market for a token that incentivizes conservation? Aquari hopes so, but that is an unproven proposition at the moment as the company is in the early stages of fundraising. The company recently tried to prove market demand by holding a water cleanup event in Belgium and will be launching a DAO to create more community engagement. Aquari has already attracted enough attention to be copied (note that the “Aquari.io” website and white paper is a fraudulent copy of the original project!).
Environmental lawyers should be especially interested in Aquari’s approach to waste cleanup and prevention. If this project takes off, it will offer a unique case study on combining financial incentives, blockchain technology, and environmental conservation.