WEF identifies 65 environmental uses for blockchain

September 20, 2018
Chris Wheal

Can blockchain fix global warming? Not overnight but the World Economic Forum (WEF) has just published 65 existing and emerging environmental use cases for blockchain tech. The WEF says it’s easiest to break down the application potential into eight key categories, including supply chain transparency, financing and carbon markets, amongst others. 

Checking out landfill – the toxicity is embedded but what about potential monetary value?

Truly transformative?

Some of these applications might dramatically improve current systems, while others could completely transform the way humans connect with each other, claims the report. 

Blockchain provides great potential to unlock and monetize value that is embedded (but unrealized) in environmental systems, “and there is a clear gap within the market,” says the WEF. 

The (big) Energy Gap

“In the first quarter of 2018, for example, 412 blockchain projects raised more than $3.3 billion through initial coin offerings (ICOs). Less than 1% of these were in the energy and utilities sector, representing around $100 million of investment, or around just 3% of the total investment for the quarter.”

Message in (many) bottles: 65 emerging use cases were found by the WEF

The WEF’s research and analysis identified more than 65 existing and emerging blockchain use-cases via desk-based research and interviews “with a range of stakeholders at the forefront of applying blockchain across industry, big tech, entrepreneurs, research and government”.

To temper excitement the WEF says three broad principles – see below – should be the starting point for any assessment. In other words, blockchain may solve some things. It’s a long way from being a cure-all. 

Three WEF thoughts:

  • Will blockchain solve your actual problem? Consider whether blockchain is actually needed to solve the problem by clearly identifying what the problem is and whether distributed ledger technology is really needed to deliver your envisaged solution
  • Can you acceptably manage the downside risks or unintended consequences? Consider the risks and challenges posed by a blockchain-enabled solution, the technical and commercial feasibility of being able to mitigate these and the likely time frames to realize them
  • Have you built the right ecosystem of stakeholders? Blockchain’s value as a solution multiplies when more players participate and when stakeholders come together to cooperate on matters of industry-wide or system-level importance. New partnerships and opportunities are more likely to emerge from multidisciplinary ecosystems


Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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