The United Nations need to embrace blockchain to boost sustainable development, according to the UN secretary-general António Guterres. In a statement provided to Forbes, Guterres touted blockchain. He notes it is a crucial component of the organization’s efforts to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs)
“For the United Nations to deliver better on our mandate in the digital age, we need to embrace technologies like blockchain that can help accelerate the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
It comes just 3 months after China declared its stance on the adoption of the technology, with President Xi urging Chinese companies to leverage the opportunities offered by distributed ledger.
$3.3 Million Budget for SDGs
Last October Guterres presented a UN budget to the national committee. This budge includes an additional 3.3$ million set aside for the SDGs and other technical cooperation projects. The SDGs replaces the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 and with goals of completion in the 2030s. These range from ending poverty and hunger to giving people access to clean energy.
In a recent Emerging Technologies white paper published by the UN, blockchain is touted to help support sustainable development in unique ways. One such use case is identity management, which also coincides with accessing governmental services. A blockchain-based identity management system enhances security. Integrating this system with other pertinent information like biometrics can help improve service delivery to citizens.
The paper also noted environment management as another possible area where blockchain can be useful, highlighting Australia and the Netherlands as countries that have already utilized a blockchain-based system for specific environmental purposes.
In terms of financial inclusion, the paper noted that blockchain can enable seamless transfer of value. This is especially true for the unbanked populations of the world.
UN Blockchain Initiatives
The United Nations is one of the largest organizations in the world. As such it has been exploring blockchain technology for quite some time. The organization has commissioned several blockchain initiatives recently across various departments. For example, the organization is now accepting cryptocurrency donations.
Back in October, UNICEF received its first cryptocurrency donations from the Ethereum Foundation. This was part of its effort to support international startups using blockchain to solve pressing problems in the society. Also known as the UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund, the fund mainly receive, hold and disburse donations in Ether and Ethereum to open source technology benefiting children and young people around the world.
By making the use of digital currencies to facilitate donations, the organization would be able to bypass expensive fees and middlemen traditionally required to move large amounts of cash overseas quickly. Blockchain also makes tracking donations easier, and have the potential to allow donors to see how their money is used.
However, the intergovernmental agency has been keen on placing the greatest emphasis on enhancing the transparency of donations and reducing wastage. For instance, the United Nations Development Programme is using blockchain to track the cocoa supply chain in Ecuador. Built in collaboration with AltFinLab and Dutch-based FairChain Foundation, the blockchain solution facilitates ethical sourcing of cocoa beans from sustainable farmers in the Ecuadorian Amazon. It also ensures that profit sharing is fair among farmers and chocolate manufactures.
Lastly, the United Nations International Telecommunications Union and Food and Agriculture Organization have partnered to track pig supply chains in Papua New Guinea.