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Blockchain – a promising technology to help achieve the SDGs

16 Mar 19
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By Patrick FitzGerald, 4IP Group, Friday 15th of March 2019

Since the inception of blockchain technology more than a decade ago, many projects have emerged and have already given a glimpse of the huge potential this technology holds to transform many data-reliant processes of our economy and our governmental institutions. Many of these projects are being developed in the Crypto Valley located in the Swiss Canton of Zug, home to hundreds of blockchain startups and businesses. With the variety of applications of blockchain technology, it has become clear that it can be leveraged to contribute to solving humanitarian and development challenges.

This has sparked the interest organizations such as the United Nations who are keen to keep track of and enable such projects. It is in this context that the Geneva-based organization SDG Lab and the missions of Canada, Jamaica, and Switzerland organized a panel discussion attended by Patrick Fitzgerald from 4IP Group on the topic of how blockchain may contribute to achieving the SDGs. Experts from several blockchain companies were invited to the Palais des Nations in Geneva to share their insights and projects.

Ralf Kubli, Director of CV VC, introduced the topic of blockchain, explaining key characteristics and benefits of the technology and showcasing several projects that already contribute to the SDGs. Toni Caradonna, Chief Technical Officer at Porini Foundation, further elaborated on the potential of the technology and mentioned ongoing projects of his organization such as the SustainabilityChain which requires much less energy than other existing blockchains. Jonas Lötscher, Chief Product Officer at Procivis, highlighted the fact that 1.1 billion people lack a legal identity preventing them from accessing basic services, and a blockchain-based identity such as the one developed by his organization may help solve this issue. Finally, Maria Teresa Pisani of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe presented some ongoing pilot projects of intergovernmental organizations aiming to increase transparency in the fashion industry by tracking products along the value chain and to provide a legal identity to children vulnerable to human trafficking.

As Nadia Isler, Director of the SDG Lab, pointed out, this panel discussion is part of an ongoing dialogue on blockchain and sustainable development which is to be continued with the support of the Lab.

Finally, 4IP Group has had its radar focused on opportunities of the blockchain technology for well over 4 years now. As remittances have become more important than Overseas Development Assistance and Foreign Direct Investment inflows in some developing countries, it has become crucial to explore technological advances that can contribute to reducing their transaction costs, such as the Bitcoin blockchain technology that underpins digital currencies.

4IP Group believes that lowering the high remittance transaction costs by intermediation of the blockchain technology could potentially contribute significantly to the achievement of the United Nations SDGs.


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