ImpactNFT: Will NFTs Be a Driver of Sustainability? - Identity Review | Global Tech Think Tank - Identity Review | Global Tech Think Tank

A partnership between the conservation platform Project Ark and the nonprofit Sovereign Art Foundation is launching the first NFT exhibit that merges art, blockchain, and social impact.

Held online and offline in Hong Kong from October 15th to 24th, ImpactNFT’s art exhibition spotlights NFT projects that were built around the United Nation’s seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. The initiative partners with digital artists and Web3 organizations, and it welcomes both novice and seasoned NFT collectors who are interested in exploring and purchasing NFTs for conservation. 

“We want to show the world the power of NFTs for social and environmental impact by creating a win-win for artists, charities, and our partners,” said Roy Weissbach the Business Development Advisor at Project Ark, which is a collaboration between World Wildlife Fund’s Panda Labs and carbon offset startup Carbonbase

ImpactNFT hopes to transform the traditional fundraising model for impact using the hype surrounding NFTs. However, most environmentalists involved in this space are typically focused on another kind of energy. In the last few months, many conservation critics have slammed NFT enthusiasts for the millions of tons of carbon emissions generated by the cryptocurrencies used to buy and sell them. This raises questions around the case for sustainable crypto art, especially crypto art for sustainability.

A Hot Topic

Similar to most NFT projects, ImpactNFT will be accessible on crypto art marketplace OpenSea to gain public traction. However, the project’s co-founders from Project Ark are also aware of the irony in putting environmentally-focused projects on a network that is less than sustainable. 

OpenSea uses the Ethereum cryptocurrency, which has been targeted by environmentalists for consuming as much electricity as an average U.S. household uses in a workweek per transaction. The main culprit for the generated pollution is the “proof-of-work” (PoW) protocol used by Ethereum (and also by other major cryptocurrencies). By nature, this process is energy-intensive due to the computational effort it requires to secure the network from fraud.

“Committed as we were to the purpose of NFT’s being used to create environmental conservation, we have spent a lot of time evaluating many possible technology stacks and solutions,” said Project Ark in a recent blog that addressed the concerns around their NFT’s environmental footprint. As a result, ImpactNFT is working with Project Ark to use the Layer Two Solution from the Polygon Network, a framework that supports the “proof-of stake” (PoS) protocol.

First to Mint

Project Ark showcases how they became among the first to mint a MATIC NFT through Polygon, resulting in having low carbon footprint, creation and transaction fees (gas fees were reduced by 1000x). 

“[PoS] is a very exciting new branch of the blockchain stack and on top of that it is very energy efficient,” said Max Song, founder of Carbonbase, in a recent interview with Identity Review. The PoS protocol is a major part of Ethereum’s mission to support a more sustainable model on their hotly anticipated Ethereum 2.0 Model, which will use at least ~99.95% less energy. Project Ark and other impact-driven NFT projects can then achieve the same reduction in emissions normally associated with minting NFTs by using Polygon’s underlying architecture for PoS.

A Force for Good

“The point of exhibition is really to highlight the fact that there is a great potential in using NFT’s to represent social causes,” said Song, regarding ImpactNFT’s decision to use the blockchain solution. ImpactNFT is part of a greater movement of global impact projects trying to prove that NFTs can drive social change. 

According to their press release, ImpactNFT’s exhibition showcases NFTs from social impact organizations such as Purple Penguin, Earth.Org, Project Ark’s Genesis Drop and AR experiences from anti-wildlife trafficking group Break The Chain. In addition, the event features curated programs that highlight the intersection of code, community and conservation.

The partners of ImpactNFT hope to be early curators of a vibrant community interested in impact, NFTs, and blockchain. Moreover, they hope to establish standards and mechanisms for the greater community to use in their goal towards achieving carbon neutrality. 

“We hope to create a viable pathway for these projects to meet the world and for the funds to ultimately arrive at these impact destinations,” said Song.


Ivy Tsang is a Tech Innovation Fellow at Identity Review from the University of Southern California, where she explores the intersections between the Arts, Technology and Business of Innovation. 

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