Blockchain Could Tackle Global Environmental Challenges, Says WEF Study

Blockchain, Innovation, News | September 18, 2018 By:

Blockchain technology could be used to address global environmental challenges, according to a new study by auditing giant PwC for the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Titled “Building Block(chain)s for a Better Planet,” the study is part of a series of reports from the Fourth Industrial Revolution for the Earth project, run in association with the WEF Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The study was made possible with funding from the MAVA Foundation.

The study has identified over 65 ways blockchain technology can be used to help solve the world’s most pressing environmental challenges, such as climate change, natural disasters, biodiversity loss, ocean-health deterioration, air pollution and water scarcity. The report said blockchain provides a strong potential to unlock and monetize value that is currently embedded, but unrealized, in environmental systems.

“While blockchain has the potential to become a powerful foundational technology used across different sectors to tackle a wide range of challenges and opportunities, if it is to be truly transformative for our global environment, it will need to be deployed in the right areas,” the study said.

The over 65 blockchain use case solutions that are particularly relevant across environmental applications tend to cluster around the following cross-cutting themes: enabling decentralized systems, peer-to-peer trading of natural resources or permits, supply chain monitoring and origin tracking, new financing models, including democratizing investment, and realization of non-financial value, including natural capital. Climate change and biodiversity were the challenge areas where most use-cases were identified, with fewer developed in the areas of water resource management, ocean management and clean air.

The study also identified enormous potential to create blockchain-enabled “game changers” that have the ability to deliver transformative solutions to environmental challenges. These “game changers” include “see through” supply chains, decentralized energy and water management systems, sustainable fundraising sources, carbon markets, and others.

“These game changers have the potential to disrupt, or substantially optimize, the systems that are critical to addressing many environmental challenges,” the study said.

The report encourages stakeholders to work together to develop solutions that are effective, holistic, relevant and deployable.

“Establishing new global platforms or accelerators focused on creating a “responsible blockchain ecosystem,” rather than just incubating specific projects, would be a valuable and much-needed next step,” the study said. “Such a platform could support stakeholders from across different sectors to develop effective blockchain solutions for environmental challenges, help ensure blockchain technology is sustainable (i.e. good for people and the planet) and play a crucial role in building out the necessary governance arrangements at industrial, state and global levels.”