Features of IOTA such as being fee-free and sustainable make the technology especially interesting for projects in the social sector. TangleCon speaker and Senior Regulatory Affairs Expert Mariana deals with this very issue in her work. Read more in the interview.
Please tell something about your background.
I was born and raised in Colombia, where I studied law and did post-degree studies in human rights and humanitarian law. Before coming to Germany, I worked for different organizations in the development sector and governmental agencies, especially on topics related to justice projects and child protection. I also have a master's degree in public administration.
Currently, I am the Senior Regulatory Affairs Expert of the IOTA Foundation and a member of the Board of Directors of INATBA. Since 2021 I have been leading the actions of the Social Impact and Sustainability Working Group of INATBA. My main focus has been raising awareness and advocating for blockchain for good at the global level, for which I receive a special award for leadership. I am also part of the leading team coordinating Blockchain 100+, an initiative supported by the UN's General Assembly to advocate for the power of blockchain for the UN Charter Values and the SDGs. Since this year, I am also one of the ambassadors of the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) and a member of the expert panel of the EUBOF. Moreover, I led the project management implementation of over 15 multi-stakeholder projects with the IOTA Foundation in cooperation with the European Parliament and the German, Canadian, and Japanese governments. Basically, I advocate blockchain for good projects in international spaces. For example, I spoke and presented blockchain use cases for good in COP26, COP27, the EU blockchain week, and the Environment Ministerial For Europe Conference.
I also have volunteered since early in my career in projects regarding social justice. Currently, I support various initiatives such as Wentors, where I am mentoring women that want to change their career path and enter the tech industry. Furthermore, I was one of the founding members of Madami, an organization empowering women worldwide, for which I received the Power Together Award in 2019 by the Women Political Leaders.
How did you get interested in IOTA?
I got interested in the blockchain sector when looking at the potential that the technology has to address some of the challenges that projects working on social impact and sustainability were facing. I started looking into different projects out there and IOTA caught my attention for its scalability potential, the fact that you can have separate data transactions from value transactions (which is a key component for some development projects) and also, because I liked the fact that it is a green technology, which makes even more sense if you are trying to deploy or support projects working in the sustainability space.
IOTA caught my attention [...] because I liked the fact that it is a green technology, which makes even more sense if you are trying to deploy or support projects working in the sustainability space.
What are you currently working on?
A LOT of different things, but here are some of the most important ones:
- DeFi campaign: I am coordinating together with the FTI team the organization of four round tables where policymakers and community members discuss different regulatory topics such as NFTs, self-hosted wallets, and tokenization. We are writing one report for each event which will be consolidated into a final report with an introduction to the project, conclusions and recommendations for future and current regulations.
- DeFi definition: I conducted a survey to collect the views of different stakeholders on the understanding of DeFi. For this particular project, we are cooperating with INATBA Finance WG and the AAB of INATBA, and the EUBOF. With the outcomes, a final definition of DeFi will be produced which will have the input of the industry, the academy, and policymakers.
- We launched Let's Talk about Regulation, a series of monthly events where regulatory experts share their knowledge on topics such as the Markets in Crypto-Asset (MiCA) Regulation, NFTs, GDPR, DeFi, taxonomy, and compliance. The sessions are hosted on the IOTA Discord General Voice, on the first Wednesday of each month.
- Overseeing regulatory initiatives: This is a constant task in which we build relationships with relevant stakeholders to have priority access to relevant bills in the European institutions, so we can closely monitor them, to ensure that IOTA Foundation is involved in the conversations.
- BC100+: I lead the team at BC100+ which is an initiative under the High Patronage of H.E. Csaba Körösi, President of the 77th UN General Assembly. They intend to promote quality debate, raise awareness, and clarify the opportunities of blockchain's role in realizing the UN Charter Values and the 2030 Agenda.
- With the INATBA Social Impact and Sustainability Working Group, which I lead, we are working on two main tasks:
- We are producing a LATAM report where we are mapping blockchain projects in Latin America working on the 17 United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- ReFi and Financial Inclusion podcast: We are creating a ReFi and Financial Inclusion podcast featuring guest speakers from different ReFi projects. We will publish 2023 a monthly podcast starting in April.
On top of that, I speak at different international events and support community projects and blockchain projects when they ask for my feedback on specific topics.
What will you be talking about at TangleCon?
I will provide an overview of what we have been doing in the social impact and sustainability space and provide an overview of the different initiatives and projects we have in place and how to engage with them.
Moreover, I will present some of the work we have been doing in the regulatory field and the importance of regulation for the industry.
What is the biggest topic for you in the community right now?
One of the most exciting topics right now (at least for me) is what is going on with governance. The IOTA Foundation supported the community in creating a DAO for the Shimmer Community Treasury and in the consolidation of the Governance framework. Moreover, the voting process took place in Firefly and I can't imagine a more user-friendly way to do it. It is really exciting to see how governance structures can enhance democracy by enabling all members to participate. The IOTA Foundation and its community have put an amazing example of how those processes can be implemented for others in the crypto space.
Moreover, it has been amazing to see the number of projects in our community working on social impact and sustainability topics. They are a clear example of the potential of blockchain for a sustainable future. There are multiple projects and people in our community devoted to improving lives, fighting the climate crisis, and achieving a more sustainable future through blockchain – and their numbers are continuously growing. It will always come to the leaders of the sector, whether on the policy level, adoption, or development, to set the right path for the industry, so projects can scale to the global level and generate the positive impact we so desperately need. I am glad to see that the IOTA Foundation and some of its community projects are setting an example for others.
Moreover, it has been amazing to see the number of projects in our community working on social impact and sustainability topics. They are a clear example of the potential of blockchain for a sustainable future.
What is the biggest challenge in the industry at the moment?
We can only scale as big as the bubble in which we are in, hence the main challenge for me is the "blockchain/crypto bubble" itself. We need to do more work in engaging and onboarding organizations outside the blockchain space, or events outside the Web3 space. We need to work more on educating general people on what blockchain is, and it's potential. This is also important in terms of regulation, getting to grips with blockchain technology is not an easy task, but we are expecting regulators to understand not only the current state of the industry but also upcoming innovations in a way that enables them to set the rules of the game, which is even more difficult considering that it is a "game" in constant change.
We are working really hard in trying to address that challenge. This is why we created the DeFi campaign that I mentioned before, so we can generate dialogue spaces for industry players and regulators. An open dialogue between policymakers and industry players brings light where the key pain points are on both sides, addresses legislative and regulatory needs and protects users and consumers while allowing innovation to flourish. Moreover, the decentralization and devolution of power to the individual and small players are very much part of the engrained philosophy of the industry, and as such, it is coherent to invite small players to participate in consultative processes where their interests are also reflected, so the voices of big players are not the only ones that legislators heard.
Furthermore, this is also the goal with the BC100+ initiative, where we want to bridge blockchain projects by working on solutions that can be of interest to UN Agencies, NGOs, international and development Organizations, and in general Web2 organizations. We want to generate a space where these different actors can talk directly to each other and find how to collaborate in scaling solutions that will help us to fulfill the UN Charter Values, the 203 Agenda, and the SGDs.
What are your hopes for IOTA in the future?
I just hope that the technology keeps maturing in a green way while our community keeps building amazing projects in the sustainability and social impact area. My role will be to help to keep an enabling environment, especially at the regulatory level, so these projects can thrive and help us in achieving a more sustainable future.
And OFC I would love to see a more diverse group of individuals joining our community and the IF.
Dear Mariana, thank you so much for your time and the diverse insights into your work. We are looking forward to your talk at TangleCon 23!