global perspectives

Building a trust infrastructure for the transition economy

20 November 2023 / WORDS BY Pollination

As we mobilize capital for solutions to the climate and nature crises, maintaining transparency into key environmental, social, and capital market inputs is critical for ensuring high levels of trust between stakeholders and fostering the momentum necessary to make significant progress.

That’s where organizations like Fiùtur come in. Launched earlier this year as a spin-off of the environmental infrastructure firm Xpansiv, Fiùtur’s mission is to provide trustworthy information for optimal capital allocation. Those are just seven words in a single statement, but they are at the core of the challenge many businesses face when navigating a rapid and complex net-zero, nature-positive transition.

We recently sat down with Fiùtur’s CEO, Joe Madden, to learn how this trust infrastructure enables market participants to obtain fit-for-purpose, actionable information for financing the transition economy, which encompasses the improvement of energy, food, and circular systems to deliver more sustainable outcomes. We also discussed Fiùtur’s invitation for participants to collectively engage in the development of this open trust architecture.

Pollination: Tell us about your vision for Fiùtur and what this new organization aims to achieve.

Joe Madden: Up until now, economic production inputs like fuel, electricity, materials, and agriculture have all been accounted for physically, with little to no consideration for any factors beyond the physical specifications of the goods delivered. This is no longer the case. The ledger has flipped, and things that were once abundant over the course of human history such as a stable climate, ample biodiversity, and a predictable water supply are now becoming increasingly scarce across every region of our planet.

This is forcing a fundamental reconciliation in financial markets. Intangible factors associated with physical production and the benefits derived from forests, oceans, and other natural capital resources are increasingly being expressed in the form of assets and liabilities.

The challenge is that, unlike a barrel of crude oil or a bushel of corn, these factors and their manifestation as verified environmental outcomes are data constructs. Financial markets do not have the infrastructure to validate these attributes across systems. This has led to concerns of greenwashing in financial and voluntary carbon markets. These challenges fundamentally relate to trust in the underlying claims. While we are seeing a multitude of efforts to address these issues, the infrastructure to efficiently scale finance within a trusted system for verified claims does not currently exist. As a result, the capital required to finance the transition is not mobilizing quickly enough.

Our hope is that Fiùtur provides a catalyst to address this information gap, unleashing the power of markets to allocate capital in a way that delivers a world worthy of future generations.

Pollination: Fiùtur just released “Trust Infrastructure for the Transition Economy,” a new whitepaper with wide input from industry stakeholders. Tell us more.

Madden: The Fiùtur team and our directors, advisors, partners, and broader community members represent several hundred years of experience across finance, commodity markets, environmental markets, technology, data, policy, regulation, market design, and product design. We have drawn on this collective knowledge base to outline a common, scalable, and systemic approach to configure, generate, and distribute the information necessary to accelerate capital deployment in the economy transition.

There are two key components outlined in the paper.

The first is the Standard Market Asset & Registry Template, or SMART for short. SMART utilizes open architecture to programmatically encode governance and commercial terms across transparent, enforced, and automated digital Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (dMRV) protocols. The SMART governance framework enables SMART Programs to allow multiple, independent parties including data providers, technical protocol owners, workflow technologies providers, insurers, and auditors to interact within a common agreement to generate SMART Outcomes. SMART Outcomes are digitized, provable claims about real-world events which can be generated for an almost unlimited number of factors. The objective is to encourage the creation of diverse, industry-specific SMART Programs to be identified, developed, and delivered by market participants based on demand for standardized, provable information.

The second is the Linear Integrated Numeric Knowledge system, or LINK. LINK is an extensible suite of numeric identifiers correlated to different stages in the economy transition lifecycle, from early capital formation to end-of-life reporting, which enables SMART Outcomes to be referenced across the capital and asset lifecycle.

Combined, SMART and LINK represent a quantum leap in interoperability, allowing a common approach to codify and deliver critical information to economy transition participants.

Pollination: At the end of the year, you will be releasing new principles for the governance of transition claims. What factors have led to the need for these principles, and how will your proposed approach accelerate the economy transition?

Madden: The SMART governance principles we’ve developed are an extension of the several hundred years of experience that I mentioned previously. If I’m being honest, I’d go a bit further and say that we have been involved with design and implementation of systems, products, and protocols that represent many billions in capital and assets and have contributed to many global firsts in this space. We have collectively learned a lot in the process.

We’ve tried to codify our collective lessons into a set of common principles that apply to the creation and substantiation of any claim in conjunction with the technological capabilities that now exist. The intention here is to provide a foundation that will evolve over time and be adapted to increasingly precise use cases and applications as the transition accelerates and matures.

Pollination: There are many interoperable transition financing solutions in development which will benefit from these governance principles. Can you highlight a few?

Madden: We are working with global financial institutions and investors to implement SMART and LINK to help them understand their existing position in the energy transition, and to systematically implement and manage their transition plans in conjunction with their clients. We are also working with those institutions to apply SMART to areas like deforestation-free agriculture.

At the same time, we are partnering with technology-enabled greenhouse gas project developers to integrate SMART and LINK in ways that allow developers to benefit from their unique platforms, by standardizing their outputs in order to differentiate their offering and more effectively engage with capital providers and end users.

We expect to publish the first version of our governing principles by the end of the year, with the intent to concurrently share solutions as they develop.

Pollination: How does Fiùtur partner with industry players like us to bring its vision to life?

Madden: At its core, Fiùtur is an enabler. We have used our intellectual, human, and financial capital to develop governance and technological tools that we believe are necessary to optimize capital allocation in the economy transition. We have a unique perspective borne of experience and we have built a digitized governance infrastructure that is flexible, adaptable, and extensible.

But we do not pretend to be experts in all matters. Our partnership with Pollination as an advisory and legal provider is indicative of our approach. Fiùtur does not have the depth and experience that Pollination holds, and we need partners like Pollination to not only deploy our tools in support of your clients’ own transitions, but to also develop and configure SMART Programs based on the net-zero, nature-positive solutions most critical to solving the dual nature and climate crises.

We are engaging with Pollination and other firms we believe to be best-in-class partners across a variety of disciplines to ensure the digitized, provable claims delivered through SMART and LINK are useful for capital allocators and best positioned to drive transition in the real economy. Those partners include leading technical and certification firms, data providers, auditors, insurers, and asset operators for SMART, and financial infrastructure providers, asset registry operators, infrastructure providers, reporting platforms, and network infrastructure firms for LINK.

Pollination: What advice would you give an organization looking to begin using Fiùtur’s new trust infrastructure?

Madden: We’re already working with leaders for the initial SMART Program launches, while also onboarding and integrating new SMART and LINK partners for the next wave of programs. For any financial services providers, certification firms, greenhouse gas developers, or private investors looking to learn more, please reach out.


To download “Trust Infrastructure for the Transition Economy,” click here.


Pollination in the news


Stay informed


Please provide your details below to access the report

    By clicking submit, you agree to our Terms & Conditions.