To support our mission to deliver financial incentives and encourage green behaviours across the agri-supply chain, Geora operates an insights engine to provide businesses with real-time feedback on their nature and climate outcomes.
The core feature which enables this insights engine is asset standards.
What is an asset standard?
An asset standard is used to structure the information required to trace an agricultural product along its value chain. Asset standards are varied because they must reflect what is important for that particular value chain, this may include information on the quality, quantity, variety, location, farm history, inputs, and processes involved in production, as well as sustainability, contract and financial data.
Using an asset standard as a way to store data allows the entire supply chain to contribute data to a single shared digital record. By ensuring that the data is standardised we are guaranteed to create records that are interoperable with different financial incentive products and external systems. Asset standards can be set up to comply with specific industry frameworks, and streamline reporting against targets and outcomes such as SBTis.
Asset standards are our key to aggregating information in a single place, structuring it for compliance with industry frameworks, and opening up access to different financial products.
Verifying climate and nature-based assets
At Geora we help our customers leverage data to ensure the greenest way to farm is also the most profitable, we do this by tracking data on nature and climate assets. Technically this process involves tokenising nature and climate assets using asset standards. Tokenised nature and climate based assets are essential to proving green impact, but they present unique challenges for traceability and verification.
Providing traceability and proof of impact for nature-based assets can be complex. The majority of agri-food products result from the production of bulk commodities passing through many hands before reaching distribution points.
Recording and reporting nature and climate data is made technically difficult by the diversity and heterogeneity of data through the supply chain. Different participants in the same supply chain will use different language, data formats, units, and levels of detail in reporting their data.
Geora’s asset standards allow participants to define interoperable standards for their assets. These standards set a baseline for required data, and provide three key advantages:
- Adapting business processes to meet a certain reporting standard is difficult and time consuming. An asset standard allows each participant and external system to submit data in their own formats and terminology, and have it automatically converted to a standardised form. The asset standard manages data schemas and ontologies, unit conversion, calculations, and progressive entry of additional data.
- Since asset standard data is standardised and normalised on entry, smart contracts can be made to interact with a single standard, and automatically apply to a whole supply chain. The NAB agri-green loan asset standard supports beef reporting requirements regardless of the producer or data source; it is written once to target the standard Geora beef asset standard and can ignore the complexities of different data standards.
- Agricultural data tends to be siloed: each process in the value chain contributes to the overall green impact of a product, and within each stage there are a diverse range of systems and sensors which record different aspects of sustainability. To fully incorporate scope 3 emissions, asset standards allow for multiple participants to record information to the same asset, progressively improving the quality and coverage of its data along the supply chain.
The Geora platform traces agricultural and impact data through smart contracts which control a network of traceable Non-Fungible Tokens, known as assets. Each asset contains information (individual data points are called claims) about a segment of the supply chain, from a paddock on-farm, to a processor facility, to the individual deliveries of beef coming from a distributor.
The entire set of value-chain and impact data is recorded on the asset, and the on-chain links can be followed through the verifiability tree to discover this base asset data which is tracked across complex bulk supply chains. Creating a bulk-supply chain lineage is possible through linked assets on-chain through relationships, such as “parent-child” and “collection- of”, and the processes of splitting and merging assets through the production and logistic phases.
To prove impact, the asset records, or Non-Fungible Tokens, must meet a number of requirements:
Impact claims must be expressed in detail and with context; the Geora assets provide the underlying data and evidence to support claims of nature and climate impact.
- Selectively private.
Supply-chain data is sensitive, and privacy concerns present a real barrier to adoption for impact verifiability. Geora asset data is private-by-default and can be selectively revealed through lenses, which define permissions for a particular participant in the system.
Impact metrics do not rely on raw data alone: they require the application of context and proven methodologies to evaluate the quality and veracity of the claims. A variety of on- and off-chain strategies are used through Geora’s data integrity engine to ensure frameworks are complied with and impact is verified.
Technical discovery: comparing smart contract standards
Geora operates on a private instance of the Ethereum blockchain, and like many nature based products we have experimented with different ERC standards as methods for creating and tracking assets.
Geora’s assets are based on the ERC-721 standard. However, the standard alone provides only for ownership, transfers, and limited metadata. To support nature and climate tracking, a number of extensions were incorporated into the NFTs:
- Rich data storage: Claims about an asset can be stored in multiple data formats (including texts, quantities, locations, and timestamps) and optionally backed by evidence in any file format.
- Physical and legal title: Standard ERC-721 ownership of a bulk commodity is complicated by the fact that legal ownership is often different to the holder of the physical commodity. Geora assets use fractional shared ownership of the NFTs to record this additional information.
- Relationships: Links between NFTs form a network graph which more accurately models a bulk supply chain.
- Permissions: Key to supporting multiple authorship of assets is a fine-grained permissioning model where owners can share access to individual claims, relationships, and evidence on an asset with other parties.
In recent years, the ERC-1155 multi-token standard has been used to model climate and nature credits like ACCUs. This is an improvement over a standard fungible token like ERC-20s, since it allows multiple “classes” of tokens which are fungible within their own class but not others. Individual credit projects can be differentiated and traded independently, allowing buyers to choose credits from their preferred commodities, regions, or which use certain reduction or avoidance measures.
However, a class-based approach to nature and climate tracking is too coarse, and breaks down for two reasons:
- As data becomes richer and more detailed, the number of classes grows exponentially due to the increase in differentiating factors. At critical mass, each token is so differentiated as to be in a class by itself, effectively making it an NFT.
- When tracking financial instruments, ownership itself is a differentiating factor. If a fungible token is split into two parcels, each owned by a different participant, it can no longer be recombined without information loss.