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Blockchain for Social Good

The technology which supports many cryptocurrencies, known as blockchain, holds great promise for advancing social good. Blockchain is being explored and experimented with by a number of international aid agencies and foundations, such as Unicef, the World Bank, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Projects cover a variety of areas such as transparency of aid, international and local remittances, the protection of property rights, secure voting, and environmental protection. The technology itself is complex (and geeky), but at its core blockchain provides a digital mechanism for transparently recording and viewing any transaction ever. It operates through a decentralized computing network over which a record of transactions cannot be hacked or altered. While the Internet serves as an information exchange, Blockchain offers a “value exchange.”

One specific example of blockchain for social good is a pilot recently conducted by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) that provided Syrian refugees based in Jordan with cryptocurrency vouchers to trade at selected markets. The platform was successfully used to record and authenticate transfers for about 10,000 individuals.

Another example is a just announced “liquid democracy” experiment which allows users of an encrypted, blockchain-based app called Sovereign to vote peer-to-peer (not through governments) on any issue, or to transfer their vote to another trusted party anywhere. The creators of the tool, Democracy Earth, wish to enable a new form of global governance which transcends national borders and to fully establish democracy as a universal human right.

In the environmental arena, powerful new blockchain-supported supply chain management systems, which are transparent but cannot be tampered with, can be employed to determine if a food product is organic or fair trade – from producer to table. (see Provenance)

This May 2017 report from Mercy Corps describes many of the other innovative projects aimed at transforming international development and NGO work through digital currencies and blockchain.

[Snippet from HuffingtonPost]

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