Solarpunk and Web3: Envisioning a Sustainable, Collaborative Future

Solarpunk and Web3

Solarpunk is a movement in speculative fiction, art, fashion and activism that seeks to answer and embody the question “what does a sustainable civilization look like, and how can we get there?”

Jay Springett, Co-administrator of solarpunks.net

What is Solarpunk?

Solarpunk is a visionary movement that emerged as an antidote to the dystopian themes of Cyberpunk and the nostalgia and aesthetics of Steampunk. It offers an optimistic outlook on the future amidst the climate crisis, envisioning a society in perfect harmony with nature and equally shared with everyone on the planet. A Solarpunk future is one that is sustainable at a not-just-for-rich-people level but a human-friendly future that can scale.

In the Solarpunk world, technology is developed in tandem with nature, and clean energy sources like solar and wind power entirely sustain cities. There are no existential threats like the climate crisis looming over society. The focus is on regenerative and sustainable practices, with a circular economy at its core

Olivia Louise shared her aesthetic vision of Solarpunk on Tumblr in 2014.

The Solarpunk Manifesto

“Solarpunk” was coined in 2008 in a blog post from the Republic of the Bees. Over the years, Solarpunk has evolved from a small online community to a promising speculative subgenre. In 2014, Adam Flynn penned down his notes toward the Solarpunk manifesto, while an ultimate Solarpunk reference guide was created by Jay Springett in 2017. The Solarpunk movement has evolved with its distinct aesthetic and an emerging manifesto.

Solarpunk is about finding ways to make life more wonderful for us right now, and more importantly for the generations that follow us… Our futurism is not nihilistic like cyberpunk and it avoids steampunk’s potentially quasi-reactionary tendencies: it is about ingenuity, generativity, independence, and community.

Adam Flynn, “Solarpunk: Notes toward a manifesto

To grasp some main ideas of Solarpunk, you can read this interesting Tumblr post explaining why solarpunk is the most important speculative fiction movement in the last 20 years.

Solarpunk artwork Sun City created by Nusa Stiglitz.

Essential Elements of Solarpunk

Decentralization

Decentralization is a fundamental element of the Solarpunk movement. Unlike Cyberpunks who envision a world controlled by oppressive corporations, Solarpunks envision a future where power is distributed among individuals and communities, fostering a sense of autonomy and empowerment. Instead of centralizing authority in the hands of a few, decisions are made collectively, with a focus on sustainability and environmental harmony. By embracing open-source technologies, information is freely accessible to all, driving innovation and progress for the betterment of society.

Lush Nature

The core idea of Solarpunk is to create a world where lush natural landscapes abound, as we see in the Studio Ghibli films, and human activities coexist peacefully with the environment.

Lush nature is an essential feature in the films from the Gibili Studio. Source: Howl’s Moving Castle from Intofilm.org.

Renewable and Sustainable Technologies

Renewable energy, especially solar power and its representation are the foundation of the Solarpunk ideology, which characterizes “gentle, non-centralized, and non-mediated”, the Solarpunks envision a world with collaboration and communities, in which no one is left behind. 

Solarpunk emphasizes the use of green energy, such as wind, water, and solar power. Source: The Future Is Bright by Jessica Woulfe.

Solarpunk Aesthetics and Art

Solarpunk’s visual aesthetics embrace an ever-changing fusion of influences. It weaves together the charm of 1800s age-of-sail/frontier living, now enhanced by the eco-friendly elements of nature and the modern touch of technology. The landscapes showcase the creative reuse of existing infrastructure, offering glimpses of both post-apocalyptic and present-weird worlds.

In 2014, Olivia Louise’s Tumblr post went viral. She integrated the art nouveau elements and gave the concept of Solarpunk a visual language. The work of Hayao Miyazaki, one of Japan’s greatest animation directors, is also considered a representation of the Solarpunk art style.

For more Solarpunk art, check out the Solarpunk Magazine, concept artist Jessica Woulfe (Solarpunk Art Contest Winner in 2019), graphic designer Nusa Stiglitz (who did the Solarpunk city design for Fuzzy Binary Games), Elijah Johnson (Solarpunk Art Contest winner in 2021).

Artwork Solar Ascension created by Astral-Requin for the Atomhawk Solarpunk art contest.

Solarpunk Movies, Fictions, and Architectures

The animated commercial by the Yogurt company Chobani in 2021 made Solarpunk concepts and aesthetics reach a greater audience. Solarpunk futurist Stephen Magee also posted the video to Twitter, claiming that the lifestyle in the video is the Solarpunk future that he’s fighting for.

The animated Yogurt commercial released in 2021 aligns with the Solarpunk ideology.

Books

  • Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation (2017)
  • Wings of Renewal: A Solarpunk Dragon Anthology (2015)
  • Chameleon Moon (RoAnna Sylver, 2014)
  • Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastic Stories in a Sustainable World (2013)
  • Parable of the Sower (Octavia E. Butler, 1993)
  • Mars trilogy (Kim Stanley Robinson, 1992)
  • The Dispossessed (Ursula K LeGuin’s, 1974)
  • Looking Backwards (Edward Bellamy, 1888)
Books that align with the Solarpunk values. Source: FreedomNews.org.

Movies

  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
  • Princess Mononoke (1997)
  • Castle In The Sky (1989)
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1987)
Hayao Miyazaki’s films often explore the themes of humanity and nature. Source: Princess Mononoke, Queensland Art Gallery.

Architecture

Architecturally, Solarpunk is characterized by buildings adorned with vegetation, including rooftop gardens and vertical forests. The aim is to integrate nature into urban spaces and create a more harmonious coexistence between humanity and the natural world.

  • Architect Vincent Callebaut (Belgium)
  • Architect Francis Kere (Burkina Faso)
  • Gardens by the Bay (Singapore)
  • Jewel Changi Airport Waterfall (Singapore)
  • Golden Bridge (Vietnam) 
  • Bosco Verticale (Italy)
Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. Source: Official Site.

Solarpunk and Web3

In a world with constant tensions between different groups and the environment, Solarpunk is our alternative for doomerism in a world of rising coordination failure. With Web3, the transparent, immutable, programmable, and global structure that can unlock better coordination, we can leverage collective intelligence to make the world better.

Solarpunk in Web3 highlights cooperativism, coordination, cooperation, communities, and collective benefits. Scott Moore, Co-Founder of Gitcoin, highlighted how Web3 reimagines public goods, emphasizing the positive externalities on society.

Kevin Owocki, CEO of Gitcoin, also tweeted that Web3 builders are creating economic systems with various mechanisms like NFTs, Quadratic Funding, and Retro Public Goods Funding, aiming to generate a positive impact. 

Unlike Web2, Web3 developers are incentivized to construct transparent infrastructure for public goods. Examples like open-source software and Decentralized Science, as highlighted by Kevin Owocki, demonstrate their commitment to providing public access to a decentralized and transparent financial system. Their ultimate goal is to foster a world with increased fairness and justice. 

Web3 is Solarpunk reimagining public goods – Scott Moore (at ETH Barcelona 2023).

Sustainability is a vital element in Web3, aligning closely with Solarpunk principles. Increasing discussions arise around mining crypto with a green footprint, leveraging blockchain to improve the circular economy, or building projects for human rights and social equality. The emergence of Regenerative Finance (ReFi) protocols in the Web3 space further demonstrates the commitment to effectively address sustainability challenges.

Web3 is not just some sort of a speculative game. It’s actually building new kinds of regenerative ecosystems, and ReGen is fundamentally Solarpunk.

Scott Moore, Co-Founder of Gitcoin

Lunarpunk and Privacy

Lunarpunk originated as a subset of Solarpunk, sharing the values of decentralization, diversity, and inclusivity. However, it has diverged from Solarpunk’s optimistic outlook. While Solarpunk focuses on transparency and openness, Lunarpunk emphasizes sovereignty and privacy. 

Lunarpunks argue that optimism leaves Solarpunks unprepared for potential challenges, giving rise to what they call “Solarpunk Fragility.” In response, Lunarpunks advocate for robust defense and the use of cryptography to safeguard user identities. They believe in the inherent conflict between cryptocurrencies and existing institutions, fearing that regulators will ban cryptocurrencies while using anonymity as an excuse to extend control.

The video from Rekt clearly explains the concepts of Lunarpunk and its distinctions from Solarpunk.

The development of zero-knowledge technology, self-sovereign identities, and decentralized IDs reflects the LunarPunk value of privacy preservation in the Web3 space. Privacy will be the future of Web3 and how to balance privacy and surveillance will be an important question to consider.

Read more about privacy and trust in Web3:

Is Web3 Privacy a Myth? Discover the Truth and Protect Yourself

Is Web3 Privacy a Myth

Coming from a professional background in computer science and security, Marta Piekarska, Director of DAO and Web3 Strategy at ConsenSys host a fireside chat with Nanak Nihal Khalsa, Co-Founder of Holonym Foundation, to discuss the current state of privacy in Web3 and how individuals can protect their privacy in the crypto space.

Nanak emphasizes the need for privacy protection, even though individuals may initially think they have nothing to hide. He highlights the risks associated with freely giving away personal data and the potential for abuse and breaches.

He explains that while Web3 is often associated with enhanced privacy, it primarily offers pseudonymity rather than anonymity. There is also a dilemma for individual users to balance privacy and government support. He highlights the potential of zero-knowledge technology to introduce new privacy primitives and enable private transactions while still complying with regulations.

Experts of privacy and security shared how users can protect themselves in Web3.

According to Nanak, the movement advocating better privacy adoption in Web3 still appears mainly decentralized and lacks a cohesive push. Holonym Foundation has also been working with Lobby3DAO, a Web3 community aiming to provide people with voices in public policy in the United States, to explore confluences with government, regulations, and lobbying.

To protect their privacy, EBC speakers suggest users be cautious about logging in to websites with their wallets, as this can potentially expose their wallet addresses and transaction history. Taking steps to secure personal information and utilizing privacy-enhancing tools are crucial for safeguarding privacy in Web3.


More EBC insights on trust and privacy:


Watch the full panel to learn from EBC experts about privacy in Web3!

Custody, Wallets & Exchanges: Keeping Your Crypto Safe

Custody, Wallets & Exchanges Keeping Your Crypto Safe

A very enlightening discussion took place during the 8th European Blockchain Convention with Maria Apogeni, CEO of BITMarkets, Serra Wei, Founder & CEO of Aegis Custody, and Clarisse Hagège, Founder & CEO of DFNS to discuss wallets, exchanges, and custody.

Not Your Keys, Not Your Crypto

Clarisse believes that owning your private keys is important for crypto ownership, but contrary to what people think, she argues that physical ownership is not necessary to keep assets secure.

In her opinion, key management is difficult and can easily lead to loss of funds, not to mention that many users still record their private keys on cloud service after purchasing a hardware device. With the advancement of technology, Clarisse envisions decentralized custody with a focus on recoverable proof of user signing power.

The audience listening to the panel discussing custody and wallets at EBC23.

Segregation of Funds Is Important

Serra points out that qualified custodians in the United States now have to demonstrate that they hold private keys to customer funds while proving customers’ funds are segregated. Clarisse thinks that centralized exchanges were a response to the difficulty of interacting with blockchain technology, but technological advancements, such as multi-party computation (MPC), can help rebuild trust and increase security. She suggests that segregated wallet infrastructure is crucial to guarantee the safety of user funds in case of bankruptcy.

The panelists discuss the importance of custody, wallets, and exchanges at EBC23.

The Future of the Crypto Space

Serra thinks that the collapse of FTX highlights the need for better risk management and infrastructure in the crypto space. Companies are now focusing on differentiating themselves by providing institutional-level solutions and complying with regulations. In the long run, this will set a new standard for sustainability and growth in the industry.

Clarisse expresses optimism in the future of the crypto space despite the fact that the institutional U.S. market is currently facing regulatory uncertainty. She believes that decentralized finance (DeFi) will come up with new solutions to deal with the situation.


More EBC insights on crypto, regulations, and privacy:


Watch the full panel to learn how to keep your crypto wallet safe!

Significance of Privacy in Web3: Restore Trust and Navigate Data Ownership

The 8th European Blockchain Convention discusses privacy and security in Web3.

Bryn Bennet, Co-Founder of Secret Agency DAO, moderated this privacy panel. Oskars Jepsis, CEO & Co-Founder of ALTER Network, Jaya Brekke, Chief Strategy Officer of NYM Technologies, and Fraser Edwards, CEO of cheqd, provided their insights.

Why Is Privacy Important?

Fraser believes privacy is essential in Web3 because current practices of putting personal information on ledgers can make it easy for others to trace someone’s behavior on-chain, potentially leading to negative consequences such as theft or loss of privacy. 

Jaya agrees by pointing out the irony in Web3 nowadays. She thinks Web3 aims to solve many problems in Web2, but she argues that there’s an even more urgent need to address the privacy concerns in Web3.

Oskars believes it’s necessary to give users a chance to choose whether to disclose certain information publicly. In his opinion, Web3 should allow users to have control over their data and monetize it, while also preventing unwanted tracking and data exploitation by third parties. 

“Most people want to know what to use and they want to protect their privacy. It’s just about making that information easily available and easily accessible to people.”
– Jaya Brekke, Chief Strategy Officer of NYM Technologies

The 8th European Blockchain Convention discusses privacy and security in Web3.

Balance Privacy and Surveillance

Fraser thinks that emphasizing the importance of privacy doesn’t mean that users are not disclosing any personal data, but having the choice to reveal certain information when necessary. He believes that we should go for the minimum disclosure, facilitated by self-sovereign identity (SSI) or decentralized IDs, and only reveal what is actually needed.

Agreeing with Fraser, Jaya thinks privacy and surveillance are not black and white. It includes a really complex field of actors, so she believes the key is to identify what data is visible to whom under what conditions. 

Zero-knowledge (ZK) proofs, in her point of view, can be an innovative tool to achieve this balance. She is convinced that adding more privacy to the internet will also make it easier and less burdensome for companies. Privacy by default reduces the need to deal with sensitive data and compliance issues.

EBC23 panelists discussing the importance of privacy in Web3.

Simple Access and Education Are Key

Fraser and Oskars discuss the importance of an easy user interface and user experience (UI/UX) in Web3. Oskars mentions the potential use of picture-based encryption for wallet access while Fraser notes that simplicity and ease of implementation are key factors in encouraging the adoption of privacy solutions by developers and users.

Privacy is The Future of Web3

Fraser mentions a significant narrative shift in the Web3 space, where there has been an increased focus on topics like privacy, data ownership, and trust, as opposed to the previous emphasis on non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Jaya also believes that privacy will be a significant theme in the coming years, with increasing awareness of its relationship to security, value, and data leaks. 

Watch the full panel discussion to understand why privacy is the future of the internet!

The Internet of The Future

The internet is an evolving technology. The technology we effortlessly use today is the result of decades of work and investigation by thousands of people from all over the world. But the project is far from finished. People are still thinking of ways to improve and perfect the ultimate communication medium we call the internet.

Most of us believe the blockchain was a major milestone. It will have long lasting consequences we still cannot envision. Yet, we will make an effort to try and imagine how the internet of the future will be.

The first and most notable change is taking place right now, and we call it “the internet of things”. We used to access the internet from our computers exclusively, but not anymore. In a very near future, internet will be completely ubiquitous. Smart cars, smart houses, smart public lighting will be an everyday thing (even more so).

Also, blockchain will provide a decentralized internet, where users can interact with each other without the need for a third party. Any person, standing anywhere in the world, will be able to communicate, buy, sell and trade assets with someone across the ocean, without knowing each other, in a trustless environment, since all information is being verified by independent nodes of the network and stored safely in a decentralized ledger.

So far, the internet we know and love is a network of information. Information has been reproduced and distributed freely since the creation of the web. And to pay the bills, the internet has relied mostly on an advertising-based model. Therefore, the few large corporations that run the most effective ad-networks are the ones that control most of the value of the internet (and not the people creating the content).

This raises many issues, not the least of them being the concentrated power that few people have, their ability to act as censors on the internet, and the fact that content creators depend on middle-men to distribute their creations (while not getting properly compensated).

NFTs were born from the internet to solve precisely these problems. They are going to redefine ownership online, and the internet will no longer be a network of information, but also of valuable digital assets. When a content creator uploads an NFT, he will be able to connect with other users directly, without the need of a middle man, and getting paid in cryptocurrency, without any third parties taking a share of his profits.

Imagine all these elements combined and you can start picturing how the internet of the future will look like.