March 2, 2018

The potential of block chains to disrupt industrial sectors, commercial processes, governmental structures or economic systems seems to know no bounds. We suggest that the transformative power of block chain technology should not be seen as a threat to existing systems of governance; rather, it should be seen as an opportunity for national and international institutions to defend the rights of those they represent and to accelerate our collective progress towards meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Block chains can bring transparency to opaque or corrupt systems, and verifiability and immutability to commercial processes. They can bring security and resilience to vulnerable infrastructure, ensure individual privacy whilst guaranteeing autonomy, and encourage cooperation and engender trust where they are needed most.

Block chains can ease the frictions that prevent a vast array of sustainability, humanitarian, and environmental initiatives from fulfilling their potential.

This white paper explains how this unconventional technology works and how it is already being used to pursue conventional ends. It illustrates how block chains have brought new levels of efficiency and effectiveness to the fields of development aid, supply chain management, renewable energy, economic growth, and several others.

Our aim has been to show how governments, NGOs, and citizens are working together, exploiting the versatility of block chain technology to form new, powerful partnerships. We address the risks posed by this nascent technology and suggest how these risks should be managed.