The FINANCIAL — Blockchain applications could disrupt how the world manages environmental resources, helping to drive sustainable growth and value creation.
This opportunity remains largely untapped by developers, investors and governments as the majority of projects are currently focused on areas like fintech and supply chains. A new study by PwC for the World Economic Forum identifies more than 65 ways blockchain can be applied to the world’s most-pressing environmental challenges.
Blockchain-enabled solutions are currently being explored to improve the sustainability of global supply chains and could help overcome illegal activities by tracking fish from “bait to plate”, or commodities like palm oil, beef and soy from “farm to fork”. Such transparency is vital in influencing consumer decisions, updating supply chain practices and triggering new governance arrangements. Blockchain-enabled smart contracts could, for instance, be used to underpin innovative tenure arrangements that give specific resource rights to communities or fishers.
According to the report, these and other opportunities have been largely untapped by developers, investors and governments, and represent an opportunity to unlock and monetize value that is currently embedded in environmental systems.
“It is important for anyone thinking about developing or investing in a blockchain application for the environment to take a step back and ask three essential questions: will blockchain solve the actual problem, can downside risks or unintended consequences be acceptably managed, and has the right ecosystem of stakeholders been built?”Celine Herweijer, Partner, PwC UK.
If harnessed in the right way, blockchain has significant potential to enable the transition to cleaner and more resource-preserving decentralized solutions, unlock natural capital and empower communities. This is particularly important for the environment, where the tragedy of the commons and challenges related to non-financial value are prevalent.
“If history has taught us anything, it is that these transformative changes will not happen automatically,” said Dominic Waughray, Head of the World Economic Forum’s Centre for Global Public Goods. “They will require deliberate collaboration between diverse stakeholders ranging from technology industries through to environmental policy-makers, and will need to be underpinned by new platforms that can support these stakeholders to advance not just a technology.