Guterres made this statement at a time where the Chinese president is making blockchain a national priority. The $6 billion United Nations Children’s Fund has also started to accept bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for some projects. Due to this Guterres argues that the technology of blockchain is being trialled and explored at the highest level of many large organisations around the world.
Chinas focus on blockchain is in aid of battling and preventing money laundering, tracking citizens’ transactions. The UN will be able to focus more on providing reassurance to people that when donations are made it is spent appropriately and as they wish, reducing waste in the organisation’s supply chain.
For the United Nations to deliver better on our mandate in the digital age, we need to embrace technologies like blockchain that can help accelerate the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.
Currently, there are five projects in the Innovation Network for the UN designed to facilitate inter-agency cooperation. Examples include the collaboration between the United Nations International Telecommunications Union and Food and Agriculture Organization that work together with blockchain technology to accurately track pig supply chains in Papua New Guinea. The United Nations Development Programme is also using blockchain to track the cocoa supply chain in Ecuador.
Even though some projects have been initiated it is still extremely difficult for an organisation as large as the UN to fully accept blockchain. Research firm Gartner predicts that 90% of blockchain projects will fail in the next three years. Despite this, the UN is pushing forward with projects that have the goal of reducing waste and promoting transparency in dealings.
Although the secretary-general does not have direct contact with the projects he is still the driving force behind all things blockchain. In 2018 Guterres published a 20-page plan for using technology to accomplish the sustainable development goals, in which he called for support of the Innovation Network’s use of blockchain and AI.
In this plan, Guterres executive office took responsibility for the coordination and implementation of the plan with the support of a new technology reference group, initiating quarterly meetings to provide him updates on the progress.
As we learn what is working and what is not, he wrote. “we will revisit the strategy and update it, ensuring its relevance to support a culture of innovation, and that our global efforts are benefiting from experiences at the country and regional levels.
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