Post by: Irfan Jafrey
In September 2015, the 193 member countries of the United Nations adopted a developmental agenda to end poverty, protect the planet, pursue peace and ensure prosperity and well-being for all. This agenda was called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The 17 SDGs were built on three core elements: economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. These all aim to bring nations together to support one cause — a sustainable future for generations to come. With this, each goal is interconnected in that the success of one will include the conversation and possibly the solution to several other societal issues.
On a smaller scale, governments, private sectors, civil society and private citizens all have a part in making this work. While local governments are expected to establish their own national strategic frameworks, it is a concerted effort by the community to build an inclusive and sustainable future for people and the environment.
“Poverty eradication is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda, and so is the commitment to leave no-one behind,” United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Achim Steiner explained. “The … Agenda offers a unique opportunity to put the whole world on a more prosperous and sustainable development path. … In many ways, [it] reflects what UNDP was created for.”
Technology Helps To Achieve SDGs
In July, the United Nations held its annual High Level Political Forum (HLPF). The series of meetings in New York reviewed the progress of SDGs, with governments and other stakeholders presenting a national review of their efforts.
So far, several projects from different industries have been implemented and are now underway to help accelerate the fulfillment of these goals. Interestingly, one of the most innovative ways being used to achieve these objectives is blockchain. The technology is being used in everything from health care programs to establishing climate coalitions.
One of the leading programs currently in progress is the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Building Blocks. Established in 2016, the project uses the decentralized digital ledger technology to make cash transfers more efficient, secure and cost-friendly by eliminating the need for intermediaries. This addresses SGD No. 1 “No Poverty” and SGD No. 2 “Zero Hunger.”
“By harnessing the power of the blockchain, WFP aims to reduce payment costs associated with cash transfers, better protect beneficiary data, control financial risks, and set up assistance operations more rapidly in the wake of emergencies,” WFP explained.
As of January 2018, over 100,000 Syrian refugees in Pakistan and Jordan redeem their WFP-provided assistance using the blockchain program. The aim is to have all 500,000 WFP-supported refugees in Jordan receive their provisions using the service.
Blockchain For A Better Future
WFP isn’t the only organization using blockchain to make the world a better place. There are several more companies that are looking into how this technology can have a positive impact on society.
According to Andy Ann, CEO of NOIZ, a decentralized ad network that provides a transparent advertising space for publishers, advertisers and consumers to connect in a fraud-free ecosystem: “Blockchain is a very powerful platform. If the government and public sectors could only understand how to use this technology, they can change the world. The power to make the world better is in their decentralized hands.”
The United Nations also supports the use of this technology to solve developmental issues in society. Earlier this year, the UN Climate Change sector helped establish the Climate Chain Coalition (CCC).
Using the distributed ledger technology, CCC aims to advance collaboration among members to strengthen the monitoring, reporting and verification of climate action impacts.
“To fully and promptly mobilize this potential, broad collaboration among stakeholders is needed to direct resources to priority areas, avoid duplication of effort, and help avoid the pitfalls of working on a new technology with countless unknowns,” Massamba Thioye of UN Climate Change explained.
Projects like this help in making sustainable living a reality. While technology used to be seen as a money-driven industry, organizations like the UN, WFP, and NOIZ prove that innovation can and should benefit the underprivileged segments of society. Blockchain, as complex as it may seem, can simplify developmental operations on the way to a better future for the entire human race and for the world.
The post first appeared on Forbes