Blockchain Can Help Solve Swathe of Environmental Issues, Says WEF Study

Research by the World Economic Forum and PwC has identified over 65 ways blockchain could address some of the most urgent environmental challenges.

AccessTimeIconSep 17, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 8:23 a.m. UTC
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New research by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has identified over 65 ways blockchain tech can be used to address some of the most urgent environmental challenges facing the planet.

The insight study, conducted in partnership with auditing giant PwC and released at the Global Climate Action Summit last week, examines how new international platforms could "incubate responsible blockchain ecosystems," according to a press release.

Such networks could range from decentralizing management of natural resources like energy and water, to creating supply chains that help promote greater sustainability. They could also provide new funding mechanisms for raising the vast sums of money expected to be required to deliver "low-carbon and sustainable" economic growth, the release adds.

As CoinDesk has reported, blockchain projects are already addressing issues such as the sustainability of tuna stocks by tracking fish from origin to the high-street store, or exploring ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boosting solar power projects via distributed trading.

"Transparency is vital in influencing consumer decisions, updating supply chain practices and triggering new governance arrangements. Blockchain-enabled smart contracts could, for instance, be used to underpin innovative tenure arrangements that give specific resource rights to communities or fishers," the release states.

The research breaks down the areas that blockchain tech could positively impact into six sections: climate change, biodiversity and conservation, oceans, water security, clean air, weather and disaster resilience – each subdivided into more precise areas that could be targeted.

The report argues that such opportunities are being largely ignored by developers, investors and governments, yet they represent an opportunity to "unlock and monetize value that is currently embedded in environmental systems."

While blockchain use cases in disrupting finance have largely been the focus of enterprises and investors, Celine Herweijer, a partner at PwC UK, said:

"There is an opportunity for fresh ideas to harness this nascent technology to help deliver big gains for our environment. From transparent and trusted clean and ethical supply chains, to incentivising sustainable consumption and production, or underpinning the much needed transition to low carbon decentralised energy, water and mobility systems."

Blockchain has potential, the report suggests, to help bring about a transition to cleaner and more resource-friendly solutions, as well as to "unlock natural capital and empower communities."

Deforestation image via Shutterstock

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