Nick Beglinger is a bit of a disruptor. He has a background as an economist, and at one point had his own software company, but he’s also an environmental activist.

In his home of Switzerland, he co-founded swisscleantech, a national green business association, to bring together commerce and climate goals, but being the face of climate regulation, in a thriving economy, wasn’t always popular. In fact, by one Swiss economic magazine was labeled ‘the big mouth of energy change’.

But, after learning about the disruptive nature of blockchain technology, and feeling the urgency of climate change, he wanted to bring blockchain disruption to the sustainability movement, and he did, in a big way.

Nick and his company Cleantech21 partnered with the United Nations, organized seventeen different workshops in seventeen major cities around the world, in order to reach out to the international developer community, and out of that – the Hack4Climate hackathon was born. A World Bank initiative.

The first #Hack4Climate innovation program partners:

At last year’s Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 33 countries were represented at the first ever Hack4Climate hackathon where he was able to bring innovation and regulation together.

Press conference from COP23:

The winning team is Gain Forest, using AI in the forestation space. We can analyse any area and developments of deforestation over 10 years so we are able to find patterns and predict future outcomes, which can influence funding and accountability.

“Sustainable development is defined as development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations” he says. “We’re still in a pretty huge crisis and not many people understand.”

Nick explains that approaches regulation goals by looking at true cost of development by factoring in the environmental repercussions of development on the world around us.

When it comes to climate change solutions through blockchain technology, Nick is not a fan of tokenizing carbon credits because he believes it’s too complex a model that doesn’t affect real change. He is, however, a fan of applying tokenization to the production of solar panels, for example, by making token holders, like shareholders.

He also mentions tokenizing forest assets so that the public can buy into forests to help save them as the valuable resource they are. He makes the point that not only do we have to concern ourselves with cutting down our carbon emissions, but if we help forests to grow and flourish, we help the environment, since trees naturally remove carbon from the atmosphere.

He feels strongly that to affect real change, governments should impose carbon taxes by putting a price for every tonne of emission which would allow everyone factor those costs into their own personal costs and it would follow that we would end up with more electric cars than cars run on gas.

When I ask about a world leader in working on sustainable development goals, the surprising front runner he mentions, is China. In China, people are shifting from bikes to motorized bikes to cars. However, there isn’t enough air in our whole atmosphere to pollute if all Chinese citizens will someday have polluting cars.

Nick used to work as an economist at McKinsey.

Now, as co-founder at Cleantech21, C21, he runs and acceleration program where they have an open and co-creative approach to innovation, with sponsorship from the UN and the World Bank.

With that kind of policy framework, and the type of innovation he sees coming with his hackathons, time will tell if we’re heading in the right direction.