Breaking the Chains of Poverty, Inequality and Climate Change

How Blockchain Can Help Achieve UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals

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Impact Blockchain is LATTICE80’s initiative to bring technology and community together to create solutions with social impact. Industry experts early on have recognized the potential for blockchain to transform how transactions are created and processed across industries and between businesses and individuals, thanks to a secure and distributed way of recording and sharing data in decentralized networks.

In this four-part series, we look into how the blockchain platform can help achieve UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals “to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.” The 17 SDGs are part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a 15-year plan adopted by 193 world leaders in the September 2015 summit that enjoins all countries “to promote prosperity while protecting the planet”.

This first installment tackles the first four goals of eliminating poverty and hunger, promoting health and providing education.

1. No Poverty

The first goal is to end poverty for some 700 million people, majority of which are in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa who struggle to get even the most basics of everyday human need for food, water, shelter, to name a few. UN attributes employment, social exclusion and unproductivity as major causes of poverty, although one can argue that these attributes are also caused by poverty. It’s a vicious cycle, nonetheless.

So how can blockchain help?

Perhaps the most obvious (and very first) application of blockchain, cryptocurrency have created alternative means of securing funds as it provides more opportunities to more people for investing and raising funds. Since the first initial coin offering in 2013, digital tokens, have been able to gather the online community to raise as much as USD4.1 billion for a variety of projects that serve to fulfill a social need or interest. As a means to raise funds, cryptocurrency certainly promises potential to contribute to achieving this goal.
On a more practical level, projects that promote financial and social inclusion can further help. Blockchain-based solutions for remittance, lending and employment services will provide easier and cheaper ways to get and create money. Funding can be made more accessible to people who intend to engage in small businesses from investors from anywhere in the world. In turn, such businesses will create more jobs and can tap into what once was an idle workforce.

2. Zero Hunger

The goal of ending hunger and malnutrition is a call for better food security and sustainable agricultural practices. Conflicts and wars have also greatly contributed to the problem. Hunger and malnutrition impede human growth and development and can mean less productive individuals.

How can blockchain help?

According to UN, “a profound change of the global food and agriculture system is needed if we are to nourish today’s 815 million hungry and the additional 2 billion people expected by 2050.” ICO-sponsored projects can help raise funds to improve transportation and energy logistics into farms as well as the overall farming processes. Investors and farmers can enjoy these improvements and yields in better crops and produce. Exposure to the global community allows for faster transfer of technology and knowledge for better farming and agricultural practices.

Blockchain applications that are geared specifically to improve transfer of money and goods can further help facilitate efficient exchange of farm goods.

3. Good Health and Well-being

The third goal of promoting health and well-being for everyone across ages highlights the need to address the many health issues that continue to threaten life expectancy and quality of living. These include a wide range of diseases and epidemics, infant and maternal mortality, and unequal access to health care, to name a few.

How can blockchain help?

Blockchain’s highly decentralized platform can store and process huge amounts of medical information and where artificial intelligence can be applied to ultimately provide more accurate diagnoses, and even predict future health conditions. Universal Health Artificial Intelligence or UHAI aims to provide such a system that solves health inequality while improving medical services.
Other related projects are providing access to healthcare barring employment status and age.

4. Quality Education

Education is key towards a productive life. This goal of ensuring access to quality education for all can help break the cycle of poverty, reduce inequalities and foster tolerance towards more peaceful societies. However, access to and quality of education are main concerns, as over 265 million children are still out of school, 22% of which are primary school children. Lack of adequate training for teachers and poor conditions of the school perpetuate these problems.

How can blockchain help?

While communities within areas with logistical challenges can benefit from alternative means of instruction, blockchain can help achieve and maintain quality standards across instructional content. Teachers and facilitators are still necessary in the whole experience, especially for children, but any training gaps can be addressed by standardized educational materials. In the same distributed ledger technology, diplomas, certifications, transcripts and other educational credentials can be instantly verified and secured from tampering or fraud.

Public schools and educational centers can benefit from better access to funds, something which tokens can definitely help with.

References:
– https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment
– https://medium.com/@jwoods1103/blockchain-for-impact-hosts-inaugural-summit-at-the-un-on-frontier-technologies-to-power-the-sdgs-4bf4e8804881
– https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomvanderark/2018/08/20/26-ways-blockchain-will-transform-ok-may-improve-education/#35e2c1a84ac9

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