World Economic Forum Cites 65 Ways Blockchain Could Help the Environment

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The World Economic Forum (WEF) is officially on board with blockchain. The non-profit released a report entitled “Building Block(chain)s for a Better Planet,” where they identified more than 65 ways in which the technology can help tackle environmental issues currently plaguing the Earth.

According to the report, increased greenhouse gas emissions, a rapid loss of biodiversity, and ocean pollution are affecting our planet. We are at risk of exhausting our freshwater reserves, tainting our clean air supply, and seeing a huge increase in natural disasters – all as a result of the “great acceleration of human activity.” As our quality of life improves, and our technological understanding develops, our Earth is often harmed in the process.

The WEF doesn’t think that the current ways we are trying to combat climate change are going to cut it. Instead, they want us to expand our strategies, and turn to the blockchain.

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Image credit: Falkenpost / Pixabay

Blockchain Sustainability Promises

The report centers on many environmental applications of blockchain technology including a few main topics: “enabling the transition to cleaner and more efficient decentralized systems; peer-to-peer trading of resources or permits; supply-chain transparency and management; new financing models for environment outcomes; and the realization of non-financial value and natural capital.”

More specifically, the report looks at the following:

Supply Chain Transparency and Tokens. The report cites the promise of supply chain transparency. Carbon trading and carbon credit, for instance, lack transparency. The blockchain could change that. Crypto tokens can provide the much-needed transparency in the carbon market – meaning governments and organizations will have greater trust in it. In fact, supply chain transparency is emerging as a key blockchain use case, as the ‘Citizens Reserve’ project also shows. The technology can improve efficiency, since it can match demand and supply, resulting in more efficient production.

Information Storage and Transparency. The WEF also sees value in blockchain’s ability to transparently and securely store information. They see internet of things-enabled sensors providing information about natural resources which blockchain records transparently – as shown in the Volkswagen/IOTA partnership.

Raising Funds. Raising large-scale funds could be another use for the blockchain, as the BlockFi project shows with their crypto-backed loans.

Incentive Models. WEF believes that setting the right incentive models can help communities and organizations create economic value from waste. This calls for economists to step in and provide thought leadership, since they can work with governments and organizations to formulate such models. Cryptic Labs is trying to provide such thought leadership.

Reporting. The WEF identifies the promise of transparent monitoring, reporting, and verification in its report. The blockchain technology, with its decentralization and immutability, could bring the much-needed trust in climate action reporting.

Disaster Management. The technology could make automated disaster management a reality, and reduce the loss of life and property using smart contracts.

Markets Monitoring. WEF intends to utilize today’s markets to manage environmental conditions better. Markets could enable monitoring of these conditions, and devise market-driven mechanisms to start course-correction. Such an ambitious project will require complete trust in the underlying data.

The report did contain a warning: blockchain can’t be used to solve every environmental problem. But there are quite a few it can help with. WEF is encouraging innovative businesses and organizations to take up these challenges for the sake of our planet. A concerted action is needed, however, first the fear of this technology needs to go.

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Anujit Kumar is a staff writer for BlockTelegraph. He covers market action and the latest in applications and technical development.

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