According to a recent Forbes report, UN Secretary-General António Guterres wants the organization to embrace blockchain technology. The report says that Gutteres’ office provided a statement to Forbes in which he touted the benefits of the technology to the organization, which generates $50 billion annually. This statement comes at a time when China’s president has called on his countrymen to embrace the technology.
UN Already Interacting with Blockchain Technology
It is worth noting that the UN is already interacting with blockchain technology through the UN Children’s Fund. In October, the organization announced that it would start accepting donations in Bitcoin and Ethereum. This indicates that the UN, in general, is taking the blockchain and cryptocurrency seriously.
Intentions with the Blockchain
In China, the focus seems to be on helping the government gain more insight into its citizens’ financial transactions as well as preventing money laundering. However, the UN’s intention is different; it wants to provide more transparency to its donors on how funds are used. Besides that, it wants to utilize the technology to reduce wastage in its supply chain.
The statement by Guterres says that for the UN to deliver better on the Sustainable Development Goals, it needs to embrace the blockchain. In October, the UN Secretary-General presented a budget for the UN to its national committee; the first time this has been done in 45 years. Out of this budget, about $3.3 billion has been set aside for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. This is not the first time the SG is mentioning the blockchain. During a speech in September 2018, he called for the use of the blockchain to solve the trust deficit disorder that was facing the world.
Active Blockchain Projects
The UN already has blockchain-based projects via the UN Innovations Network. These projects are designed to improve cooperation between various arms of the UN. For instance, there is an active blockchain project in Papua New Guinea that is being used to track the supply chain for the pig industry. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization is overseeing the project in conjunction with the UN’s International Telecommunications Union.
It will not be an Easy Task
The UN is a huge global organization and for it to begin using blockchain technology and cryptocurrency will not be easy. For instance, it took years for Unicef to get approval from numerous internal stakeholders before it could begin accepting donations in Bitcoin and Ethereum. It is worth noting that this was a relatively simple project and did not require any major adjustments on how the UN’s internal processes work.
Other complex projects such as integrating blockchain technology into its internal supply chain could take longer to actualize. The UN would have to seek approval from all agencies involved as well as ensuring that everyone understood how to use the technology. In the Forbes report, it is noted that blockchain projects have a high failure rate of 90%.
If the UN finally adopts blockchain technology, it could help to boost the adoption of blockchain technology globally. It could even spur adoption of the technology by numerous national governments since most of them interact often with the UN.
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