Sustaintech Xcelerator: Temasek, DBS & Google To Incubate ESG Monitoring Startups With Nature-Based Solutions

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Recently launched by DBS, Google, Temasek and other partners, the climate-innovation accelerator ‘Sustaintech Xcelerator’ aims to provide support to those who are developing innovative tools to improve the monitoring and verification of environmental, social, and economic impacts of nature-based solutions (NbS).

Apart from DBS, Google, and Temasek Holdings, the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions, the World Bank, and Verra are also responsible for the launch. 

This six-month global virtual accelerator aims to boost confidence and increase trust in nature-based carbon credits and hopes to transform the manual and fragmented NbS verification process to a more smoother and continuous one

The collaboration will further the development of technologies that protect and preserve natural ecosystems. The centre has been a focal point for research and thought leadership on NBS for climate mitigation and adaptation in the Asia-Pacific

Koh Lian Pin, Director of the NUS Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions

What are Nature-based solutions (NbS)?

NbS are actions that utilise the power of nature to combat the social and environmental challenges that exist at the moment. By absorbing carbon dioxide emissions, NBS can help restore balance in the ecosystems by reviving mangroves, forests, and coral reefs. 

Diagram explaining Nature-based solutions (Source: IUCN)

Through the accelerator program, the development of these solutions will begin and that could help achieve the goals listed in the Paris agreement to limit global temperature rise to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels. NbS, including forestry, marine, and agricultural projects, could have the potential to supply a majority of these credits. At the same time, these projects have significant co-benefits, for instance, the projects support biodiversity and provide income for marginalised communities.

In an official statement, Koh Lian Pin, Director of the NUS Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions, said, “The collaboration will further the development of technologies that protect and preserve natural ecosystems. The centre has been a focal point for research and thought leadership on NBS for climate mitigation and adaptation in the Asia-Pacific.”

The current monitoring and verification process for NbS projects is dependent on infrequent manual auditing. Apart from this, there is also limited transparency for carbon credit buyers regarding the level of impact and if there are any possible risks attached with different NbS projects.

How can the Sustaintech Xcelerator help?

The Sustaintech Xcelerator is open to startups, established companies as well as academics. It will consider solutions like remote sensing technologies, artificial intelligence, and climate-science models that will focus on improving the estimation of carbon sequestration and biodiversity.

Establishing greater trust in NBS and their impact is key to catalysing this market and the accelerator tie-up will foster impactful solutions and support Singapore’s development as a regional hub for climate innovation

Frederick Teo, Temasek’s Sustainability Director

Additionally, it will also accept Internet of Things technologies for monitoring NBS projects, as well as the digital ledger technology that supports carbon credits’ tokenisation, digital auditing as well as financial transparency.

In an official statement, Marc Sadler, Manager of Climate Funds at the World Bank said, “The World Bank sees ‘strong potential’ for technology to reduce cost and increase the accuracy of monitoring and verifying emissions reductions.”

What can applicants submit and what are the benefits they will receive?

Applicants are required to submit tangible solutions like minimum viable products and proofs of concept, that address any of the below areas – 

  • Reduce the cost and/or improve the efficiency of monitoring and verification of emission reductions and sequestration;
  • Value social and biodiversity co-benefits of nature-based solution projects;
  • Provide ongoing monitoring of nature-based solution assets;
  • Improve financial transparency of nature-based solution projects and programmes.

Teams can also choose to frequently pitch and present as well as participate in a public showcase during Ecosperity Week in June this year that will also have investors and media present. The programme will also support applicants to remain interactive in the Singapore ecosystem through participation in academic partnerships and commercial opportunities.

Apart from access to leading expertise, selected applicants will receive a USD $50,000 grant as well as in-kind resources for eg., office space in Singapore (for local teams). 

(Source: Sustaintech Xcelerator)

Frederick Teo, Temasek’s Sustainability Director mentioned how the investment firm sees a substantive business opportunity for nature-based solutions as a legitimate tool for companies looking to reduce their carbon. “Establishing greater trust in NBS and their impact is key to catalysing this market and the accelerator tie-up will foster impactful solutions and support Singapore’s development as a regional hub for climate innovation.”

The accelerator will also provide mentorship to the selected applicants through its partners and their networks. For example, Verra, a US-based non-profit organisation that manages a large voluntary greenhouse gas programme, the Verified Carbon Standard, will come together as a knowledge partner to mentor teams on the complexities of the verification process.

The application deadline is Friday, January 15, 2021 at 23:59 p.m. Singapore Time (10:59 am EST; 15:59 pm GMT).


Lead image courtesy of Pexels.


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