FLINT 101: Why We Built FLINT

The Full Lands Integration Tool (FLINT) is moja global’s flagship software. FLINT is a highly flexible open-source software technology designed to help identify and tell the story of users’ land-based emissions and removals.

That’s a nice sounding description of FLINT, but you may ask yourself why we need to understand these emissions better, what terms like ‘open-source’ mean, and how FLINT actually works. In this blog series we will dive into the logic behind why moja global developed the FLINT software, what its role is in addressing climate change, and will provide examples of the uses of FLINT-based MRV applications to support science and policy development.

To start we will focus first on why we developed software that analyzes greenhouse gas emissions and removals from forestry, agriculture and other land uses (AFOLU).

The AFOLU sector accounts for nearly a quarter of global greenhouse emissions. On the other hand, natural ecosystems are able to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it. Forests alone hold 250 billion tons of carbon (about 7 times the global emissions per year). To achieve net zero emissions, we must reduce all emissions and enhance land-based carbon sinks this decade.

Knowing that we need to do this is important to solving the problem of climate change. But how do we design strategies for reducing emissions and improving carbon sinks? The first step is gathering the data needed by public and private sector leaders to develop and assess strategies appropriate for diverse landscapes, economies, and cultural practices tied to the AFOLU sector. 

But gathering data isn’t the only step. Gathering data so that it can be used correctly to compare alternative scenarios of land management and quantifying potential benefits is necessary (for an example of this see our work on British Columbia’s forest sector). Gathering this data, and doing it right so we can utilize it to make smarter decisions, is where moja global plays our part.

Moja global realized that the ability to accurately measure, report, and verify (MRV) and project emissions and removals from the AFOLU sector is vital. This is true for both governments and companies to understand and plan progress toward climate targets, including countries’ nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement. So we set out to develop a new MRV software that could be flexible enough to meet the demands of various users and agile enough to incorporate a better scientific understanding of emissions and rapidly evolving technological improvements. 

There are limited options currently available for MRV systems for the AFOLU sector, and those that exist face limitations. In many cases, investment goes toward ad-hoc, simple solutions that are not sustainable or scalable. Developing a bespoke MRV system for the AFOLU sector requires huge amounts of expertise, making the process expensive and inefficient if every country tries to develop their own software tools.

There is a clear need for solutions that help countries and other users quickly and efficiently establish an operational MRV system that can respond to policy and planning needs. 

Moja global was launched to fill this gap by building a community of experts, scientists and developers to create the first open-source source software that is affordable, accurate and fully customizable to a user’s MRV and scenario analysis needs and available data, whether the user is a country, a region, a local government, a company or a project planner.

Understanding why we built FLINT provides perspective on the role AFOLU sectors play in climate change and the need to address them. In the next part of this series, we will dive into the role of MRV systems for public and private sector leaders seeking to address climate change, and why this need inspired our strategy to build a scientifically credible open-source software platform for all.