Quick Take: Blockchain - a new frontier for sustainable development

The worlds of Switzerland’s Crypto Valley and Geneva’s international development community recently converged at the Palais des Nations for a session on how blockchain can contribute to the 2030 Agenda and leaving no one behind.

Through a panel discussion held on March 7, 2019 and organized by the SDG Lab and the Permanent Missions of Canada, Jamaica and Switzerland, blockchain enterprises based in the Swiss Canton of Zug spoke to the role of decentralized digital ledger technology—or blockchain—in helping achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The two-hour discussion benefited from the knowledge of several crypto and blockchain experts. This included Ralf Kubli, Director, CV VC, Toni Caradonna, Chief Technology Officer, Porini Foundation, and Jonas Lötscher, Chief Product Officer, Procivis, who helped demystify the technology.

 
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Together they highlighted blockchain’s primary characteristics and applications, including in cross-border transactions, provenance tracking, humanitarian relief and digital identity, as well as the challenges facing the technology.

Maria Teresa Pisani with the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) shared a Geneva-based UN perspective. She illustrated how the UN family uses blockchain, for example, to improve food distribution in the context of emergencies and combat child trafficking.

The blockchain panel was opened by Valentin Zellweger, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Switzerland, and concluded by Cheryl Spencer, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Jamaica. In their remarks, Ambassador Zellweger conveyed the importance of furthering blockchain for social good, with Ambassador Spencer stating that the technology represents a new frontier of innovation to achieve the SDGs.

SDG Lab Director Nadia Isler moderated the discussion and expressed the support of the Lab in helping continue the dialogue between the worlds of blockchain and sustainable development and furthering opportunities to support SDG implementation.