The Spark that Starts the Fire: Blockchain for Impact 2019 Global Summit
World leaders returned to the United Nations yesterday for the second Blockchain for Impact (BFI) global summit. An invite-only event, BFI aims to bring together global dignitaries, founders, and practitioners to help address many of the urgent problems our society faces today, as outlined by the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS). The summit served as an opportunity to showcase blockchain use cases for the UN and world governments in areas such as ocean restoration, data privacy, and women in the tech sector workforce, as well as use cases currently being utilized by smaller nation-states Liechtenstein and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). Speakers included Dr. Hilda Cathy Heine, President of the Republic of Marshall Islands, and Adrian Hasler, Prime Minister of Liechtenstein; Dr. Adonia Ayebare, Ambassador of the Republic of Uganda to the UN; and Dr. Eva-Marie Muller-Stuler, Chief Data Scientist at IBM.
“Blockchain features and philosophy lend themselves perfectly to create new and innovative methods to connect private and public sectors in order to advance capital flows to the SDGS and aid in 2030 goals being accomplished” BFI Vice-Chair and co-founder Vince Molinari
The first aspect that immediately stood out to us was how both developing countries and nation-states are getting involved with blockchain technology at both a speedy and large-scale pace. Liechtenstein has been making waves over the past year for its rapid embrace of blockchain and cryptocurrencies and the launch of the Liechtenstein Cryptoassets Exchange, or LCX, website. Liechtenstein’s Blockchain Act is a first-of-its-kind comprehensive legal framework, designed to regulate many aspects of a crypto economy, including security and asset tokenization, digital asset ownership rights, and legal requirements for storing digital assets. Liechtenstein’s small size plays to its advantage, allowing new and improved iterations of the Act to be tested and approved at a much faster pace than if it were a larger country. If passed later this year, the Blockchain Act will provide a standard for countries looking to implement both crypto and trust-based storage technologies.
In addition to Liechtenstein, the Marshall Islands made a splash with the announcement that they have formed a non-profit organization to support the government in implementing the RMI’s national digital currency. The organization will oversee a Development Fund to support the development and launch of the Sovereign (SOV) token. RMI’s decision to trade the SOV against the US dollar to smooth volatility, combined with the independent Development Fund consisting of seven members chosen from the RMI government, the firm developing SOV’s blockchain infrastructure, and an international pool of blockchain experts, provides a promising example of how countries looking to implement cryptocurrency on a national level can do so while remaining in line with regulatory bodies such as the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control.
Although these two examples are relatively small on the global stage, they can be seen as providing the spark that will ignite the metaphorical powder keg of global blockchain and crypto adoption at a governmental level. Once the success of these early iterations are shown to the world, larger and larger use cases will be developed and implemented, with the end goal being the utilization of this technology to address the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
To those of us with experience in the blockchain industry, it might seem obvious that several issues that the SGDS aim to address could be nearly or completely solved with the implementation of blockchain. Key examples include liquid democracy, which enables citizens to instantly vote in elections and other key matters to get a universal consensus across a state, recording and managing supply chains to eliminate waste and inefficiency, and enabling the roughly 1.7 billion unbanked people worldwide to engage in the global economy while avoiding the exclusionary nature of many traditional banking institutions. An organization as influential as the United Nations exploring blockchain is tremendously exciting, and, when combined with larger corporations such as Walmart and Facebook currently exploring or engaging in large-scale blockchain implementations, suggests that blockchain and cryptocurrencies are on the edge of a whirlwind of widespread global adoption.