Editorial

World Economic Forum says Blockchain could be a vital environmental protection tool

Groups highlights over 60 blockchain applications it thinks could be used to help us with our most pressing environmental challenges, such as new financing models for environmental outcomes

Posted 17 September 2018 by Gary Flood


Blockchain has multiple use cases in environmental protection – maybe as many as 65, if not more, says the World Economic Forum.

The claim comes in the form of a new report from the Geneva-headquartered body, which sees itself as engaging the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

In a report published at the end of last week, Building Block(chain)s for a Better Planet, the group outlines how “blockchain could disrupt the way the world manages environmental resources and help drive sustainable growth and value creation”.

It then goes to list over than 65 use-cases its researchers claim to have identified that show where blockchain can be applied to the world’s most-pressing environmental systems challenges,

It also notes that so far, “these opportunities remain largely untapped by developers, investors, and governments, yet they represent an opportunity to unlock and monetize value that is currently embedded in environmental systems”.

Its examples run from new financing models for environmental outcomes, the realisation through distributed ledger of non-financial value and natural capital, outlining more efficient and cleaner decentralized systems, and a host of others.

There are also at least eight possible ‘game changers’ where the technology could fundamentally disrupt current systems and approaches, such as totally transparent supply chains, decentralised energy and water management systems, sustainable fundraising sources, carbon markets, and so on.

To get there, we basically need to two things, thinks the body: introduce a “responsible” and “global” blockchain ecosystem, as opposed to funding specific, separate projects, and work to defuse the hype around the technology, which it says should be based on every project commencing only when three questions can be answered: are we solving a specific problem, can the risks of unintended consequences be managed acceptably, and is there a functioning ecosystem of stakeholders.

The potential pay-off if we get Blockchain right, it points out, is “an opportunity to realize blockchain’s potential – not just for finance or industry, but for people and the planet”.

The body also published a separate report last week that claimed distributed ledger could add as much as a trillion dollars to the volume of global trade over the next decade.