Harnessing Blockchain for Sustainable Development: Prospects and Challenges (2021)

Harnessing Blockchain

In an increasingly digitalized economy and society, the security and accountability of data transactions are critical elements for creating trust and enabling breakthrough innovations in the digital world. In this regard, blockchain technology could be a game-changer, with the potential to revolutionize processes from finance to pharmaceutical industries, from government public services to humanitarian work and development aid. The blockchain serves as the base technology for cryptocurrency, enabling open (peer-to-peer), secure and fast transactions. However, issues associated with scalability, privacy concerns, uncertain regulatory standards and difficulties posed by technology integration with existing applications are some of the potential market constraints. The paper’s main messages are that blockchain technology can be used in many applications that could contribute to sustainable development. The paper is structured as follows. Chapter II sets the stage by briefly presenting blockchain technology. Chapter III discusses the ecosystem of innovation related to blockchain technologies. It discusses the types of blockchain innovation, main actors, networks and interlinkages that they form to exchange knowledge, learn and innovate. Chapter IV discusses how blockchain could impact the Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on how possible scenarios could play out and their effect on sustainable development. Chapter V discusses the challenges that Governments face and what they could do to influence the rate and direction of innovation and competence building in blockchain to contribute to their national development priorities and accelerate the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. And chapter VI discusses areas for international collaboration.

© United Nations, 2021