Category Archives: UN

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Farmers Worldwide Are Now Seeing Blockchain’s Real Advantages

Farmers are beginning to see the potential of new technology, including blockchain, as a solution to supply chain problems in the industry.

Although farmers are sometimes skeptical towards tech solutions coming from an industry steeped in traditional methods, more of them are taking the plunge given the obvious advantages of blockchain’s supply chain clarity and accountability.

Around the world, growers are finding success in change. From Queensland cane growers tracking the movement of sugar around Australia, to growing and tracking organic rice in Cambodia, and cocoa in Ghana, blockchain is providing farmers with a way of tracking their products from field/farm to table.

Organizations such as Olam Farming Information System offers transparency for small farmers in 21 countries around the world. With 100,000 small hold farmers now registered with OFIS across Asia, Africa, and South America, the organization has developed a system which allows easy access and information sorting for the user to get to know more about the farming communities who supply their ingredients.

In mid-2017 Af Funder calculated a potential $213 million was there to be accrued by farm management software and IoT start-ups due to rising interest within the industry. Most development in the industry has been in traceability solutions which many smaller producers have already adopted.

However, there is the potential for blockchain to operate in the farming industry on a much larger scale, such as the French supermarket giant Carrefour’s blockchain project which began tracking its chicken supply earlier this year. This provided customers with an egg to table history by using a smartphone to scan a code on the packaging to obtain details on each stage of production, including origins, earlier location, feed and where the meat was finally processed.

The potential to cut down on an illegal harvesting and shipping fraud are other advantages. A new project in Kerala in India’s deep south will now be ensuring that goods now include RFID tags and the use of IoT devices to monitor transportation and delivery, primarily of milk, vegetables, and fish. All components of the milk supply chain will be strictly monitored and recorded on the blockchain.

Projects like this are making illegal trading far more difficult; the cost of food fraud has now reached an estimated $40 billion a year according to the UN.

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China Tracks Charity Donations with Blockchain

The Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) in China has commented that the government is planning to implement blockchain technology in order to track charitable donations.

The Chinese plan is very much in line with many governments and NGOs around the globe, many of whom are already utilizing the technology in the sector.

While technological innovations have been boosting capital in practically every other industry, the charity sector has fallen behind. Millennials especially just don’t seem to have confidence in an industry that has had scathing media coverage of improper practice, damaging commercial partnerships and a lack of transparency when it comes down to seeing how donations are distributed.

MCA has just released its four-year blockchain plan for charities, principally to enhance supply chain transparency in the sector, promising to integrate blockchain into charitable institutions systems by the end of the year. The ministry appears to be moving very quickly on this, suggesting that online charities will be connected to government charity databases in the oncoming months, promising to build:

“… a tamper-proof charity organization information query system and enhance the authority, transparency and public trust of information publishing and search services.”

A report conducted by independent think tank Charity Futures concluded that charities have yet to engage with blockchain with the kind of urgency required to keep up with technological advances. The study, ‘Nothing to Lose (But Your Chains)‘, was clear in pointing out that the charity sector had as yet failed to tap significantly into available blockchain technologies.

The report recommends the use of DLT by creating a transparent, end-to-end supply chain for each project. This means that all those involved – government departments, NGOs, funders, charities, local offices, delivery partners, and the individuals receiving the benefit have access up to the moment information regarding the funds or supplies donated.

Some charities and NGOs are getting it right, however. Along with IBM, both the UN and the World Food Programme (WFP) are now proactively using blockchain to record transactions.

The Chinese government has announced that it also intends to integrate blockchain into a range of social services programs.

 

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NGO in Tanzania Registers First Babies on Blockchain

A Dutch-based NGO working in Africa has teamed up with AID:Tech on a women’s aid project in Tanzania by using blockchain tech to assist pregnant women.

AID:Tech is an award-winning company that focuses on the delivery of digital entitlements, including welfare, aid, remittance and donations using blockchain and digital identity. The company was the first in the world to successfully deliver international aid to Syrian Refugees in Lebanon using blockchain technology, according to Wikipedia. The Dutch NGO, PharmAccess, works on projects in Africa and uses blockchain to make aid delivery more efficient.

The AID:Tech platform describes itself as a company which offers digital identity, represented by a blockchain wallet address. Each identity profile is unique and documents every transaction associated with it. Each digital identity can also be used to receive, send and hold digital entitlements. Each profile is both an identity solution and a built-in tool for managing social and financial entitlements.

The Tanzanian project’s main focus is not simply targeted at pregnant mothers, as it also ensures that beneficiaries receive supplies and services including pharmaceutical necessities. The blockchain program being used by the team ensures that individual women can be tracked for receipt of benefits, vitamins, doctor appointments and medication through AID:Tech’s digital ID system. This ensures that funds arrive at the nominated source correctly and that post-natal treatment is being properly delivered.

Postnatal treatment is clearly not the only thing that the program can deliver, as this month, using the new digital system, the births of three babies were recorded on the blockchain, reportedly the technology’s first of its kind.

Charities are currently receiving poor press because of recent developments, particularly reporting that sexual predators are working for international aid organizations where they can abuse children, young girls and women from vulnerable communities. Little appears to be done despite reassurances from the UN that charities such as Oxfam and Save the Children will take immediate action.

Another problem has been aid actually reaching its designated beneficiaries or donations being carelessly monitored and utilized. CEO of AID:Tech Joseph Thompson was reportedly inspired to launch this latest fundraiser due to a charity in the past losing his donation, which ended up not reaching those it was targeted for. A more successful project in 2015 saw it successfully deliver 500 food vouchers to a Lebanese camp for Syrian Refugees.

Such programs can go a long way to restoring much of the trust that has been lost in charitable organizations over recent years, also reminding the public that new technologies will be the key to making NGOs and private charity activities far more transparent and trustworthy.

 

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Sun Exchange Plans to Provide Africa’s Poor with Crypto-Funded Energy

Sun Exchange, the global micro-leasing marketplace, is announcing a new partnership with Powerhive which aims to use the crypto economy to offer decentralized solar power to poorer nations.

With over one billion of the world’s population still living without electricity, the new project between the two companies aims to eradicate worldwide energy poverty by using cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to harness sustainable solar power.

AfricaPowerhive will be the beneficiary of funds generated from the sale of Sun Exchange’s SUNEX rewards tokens by public sale. The money will then be spent on developing solar-powered mini-grid projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. The project will allow for the solar panels used to be sold off later to Sun Exchange members who will, in turn, own the cells used in the projects and subsequently profit from a sustained period of “solar-powered money”. Sun Exchange founder and CEO Abraham Cambridge is reported to have said in a press release that:

“Together, we are working towards a world where no one is forced to cook with unsafe kerosene or wood-burning stoves, no child has to worry about how they will study after dark, and lack of energy access ceases to propel cycles of poverty.”

The project will raise in the region of USD 23 million in capital and finance 150 new projects offering 175,000 people electricity.

Powerhive has other projects underway in Africa, such as its Kuku Poa initiative which uses solar power for chicken incubation. Powerhive founder and CEO Christopher Hornor explained that the crypto-community is not simply in it for financial gain and is made up of “inspired individuals” who support crypto projects such as this that clearly work towards reducing global inequality and making a significant climatic impact. He added:

“Over the past seven years, Powerhive has built a vertically integrated platform that allows us to identify, construct and operate the highest quality and lowest cost solar-powered mini-grids in Africa.”

Sun Exchange works from the perspective of being highly respected for the humanitarian work it carries out the field of fintech and has piloted a blockchain-based program on behalf on the UN, as well as winning the Mondato Award for Social Impact in Sub Saharan Africa.

The company has been recognized as the best blockchain business in Africa at the African Fintech Awards for the past two years running.

 

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Blockchain Must Make Impact on Digital Identity Crisis of Refugees

World Refugee Day on 20 June cast focus again on how blockchain technology could play a part in presenting a major solution to the problem of displaced people around the world, writes Bitcoin Magazine.

There are currently 25.4 million refugees in the world and some 3.1 million asylum seekers around the world, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Blockchain solutions are in place in many poorer countries working to improve the lives of individuals at community and national levels, but it is noticeable that the worldwide refugee crisis hasn’t as yet been significantly impacted by new technology. The biggest problem in this area is one of identity as Joseph Thompson, co-founder of AID:tech, illustrates:

“Not only do refugees need to reformulate their personal identity to secure a sense of belonging, but also it’s imperative from a legal, social, and political perspective. Needless to say, the issue is more complex than simply assigning each individual an identity card, as global crises happening throughout the world are different and varied with refugees and their situations.”

AID:Tech works with NGOs, governments and cooperates to tackle the most topical and entrenched issues in their particular areas of operation. Thompson suggests that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals with the World Bank program is beginning to take notice of the identity issue, but he claims there is still much further to go in order to tackle this problem. Its suggested that in particular children born without a homeland due to displacement could be legitimized on the blockchain giving them verifiable identities, which would entitle them to essential services such as healthcare and education.

“An effective identity solution needs to be flexible, reliable and sustainable while also accommodating the transitional circumstances often faced by refugees. This is particularly crucial and alarming when we consider that refugee children are being born with the risk of missing out on legal identity —including healthcare and education.”

The Social Alpha Foundation is a nonprofit, grant-making platform that funds blockchain humanitarian-based startups. Co-founder Nydia Zhang believes that this access to services through verifiable identity is an essential role that blockchain can, and should, be playing in order to at least give a sense of identity to the stateless; Zhang’s “invisible population”.

Bruce Silcoff, CEO of the Shyft Network, whose team is working on a blockchain platform to ensure those fleeing from conflict have their basic necessities delivered, suggests that ID is more of a “right” than a “privilege” and thus should be prioritized using the very latest in technology in order to overcome bureaucratic barriers:

“We are witnessing millions of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers crossing borders to escape violence and build better lives for themselves and their families, only to run into institutional barriers, unable to access basic services and participate in the global economy.”

These questions of how technology should be offering solutions, come into stark focus given the importance of a day which is designed to draw the world’s attention to the plight of those displaced by war and conflict. On this important day, homeless children are still being created by careless legislation and bureaucratic obstacles, clearly illustrated by US President Trump’s announcement yesterday that he will separate children from their “illegal” parents at border crossings.

 

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UN Publishes White Paper on Supply Chain Blockchain Applications

The United Nations Center For Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business’s (UN/CEFACT) blockchain project team recently published a ‘Blockchain White Paper’ for public review, describing technical applications for blockchain in supply chains. The paper describes an intent to use blockchain technology to support supply chain interoperability, efficiency, and integrity.

Since the 1980s, UN/CEFACT standards have played a fundamental role in facilitating trade and making economic supply chains more efficient. The Blockchain White Paper analyzes how blockchain technology can be maximized to further the organization’s mission.

It says the UN/CEFACT will focus on a few aspects of blockchain technology including smart contracts, electronic notary and decentralized process coordination. The ability of blockchains to transmit money with cryptocurrency and to facilitate digital voting will not be focused on, since the primary goal of the paper is to see how blockchain could improve supply chains.

The paper states that blockchain could improve supply chains by moving away from traditional paper record systems and replacing it with a digital trustless system. If the UN/CEFACT were to implement blockchain technology, it could standardize supply chain records into one database rather than the many different databases there are today, and the ledger would be immutable, meaning that no one could go in and manipulate the data in order to commit fraud. This would make a blockchain ledger solution for supply chains more reputable and credible than older systems.

The UN/CEFACT says that many different types of supply chain data can be transmitted through a blockchain ledger, including consignment and shipping, invoicing, insurance, and movements through international customs.

On the downside, blockchain doesn’t solve the supply chain interoperability problem, and the UN/CEFACT says it must be careful to choose the right blockchain technology since not all blockchains are created equal. Indeed, some cryptocurrency blockchains have been compromised recently by 51% attacks.

According to the UN/CEFACT Blockchain White Paper, more research and development is needed to ascertain the potential of blockchain to facilitate international trade, and it is suggested that blockchain experts from member nations work together to develop new blockchain technology that could be implemented for supply chains.

 

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Charities Must Embrace Blockchain to Make Genuine Impact, Report Says

A report conducted by independent think tank Charity Futures concluded that charities have yet to engage with blockchain with the kind of urgency required to keep up with technological advances, writes Live Bitcoin News.

The study, ‘Nothing to Lose (But Your Chains)’, was clear in pointing out that the charity sector had as yet failed to tap significantly into available blockchain technologies.

Asheem Singh, former interim chief executive of the charity’s lead body Acevo, who commissioned the report, said that blockchain held great potential for charity organizations. “Blockchain could herald the sort of seismic changes in the charity sector as the digital revolution before it,” he wrote.

The report suggests that there is one area of significance where blockchain could make the most impact should it be employed. Foreign aid was singled out, noting that aid distributed by the UK government currently stands at 0.7% of GDP, which in 2016 was GBP 12.7 billion. International aid has been susceptible to corruption and bureaucracy in many receiving countries, which are exactly the kinds of problems that blockchain’s accountability can address.

Many charity organizations are dragging their heels regarding the new technology according to the report. “Despite the potential benefits, the charity sector is currently behind the curve on blockchain technology,” the study said.

The report recommends the use of DLT by creating a transparent, end-to-end supply chain for each project. This means that all those involved – government departments, NGOs, funders, charities, local offices, delivery partners, and the individuals receiving the benefit have access up to the moment information regarding the funds or supplies donated.

Some charities and NGOs are getting it right, however. Along with IBM, both the UN and the World Food Programme (WFP) are now proactively using blockchain to record transactions.

As previously covered by Bitcoin News, WFP has been employing the blockchain in a number of its projects and making a significant impact in the field as a result. In just one of its recent programs, the organization has distributed cryptocurrency-based food vouchers to more than 100,000 Syrian refugees living in Jordan, bypassing bureaucracy and getting aid to where it’s needed.

Singh feels that it is time charities came together with those actually creating the technology, in order to fully draw on its potential across the whole sector.

“It may be time for the sector to convene a high-level task force that brings together charity leaders and technologists… to articulate the contribution blockchain can and should make to the charity sector and the problems it is trying to address.”

 

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UN Partners with IOTA for ‘Tangle’ Tech to Boost Field Efficiency

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) has announced a collaboration with the IOTA Foundation to examine the feasibility of DLT streamlining its operations, according to Coindesk.

The new partnership announced on Tuesday stated that the two organizations plan to utilize IOTA’s tangle technology which is easily compatible with Internet of Things devices, due to its minimal computing requirements.

IOTA uses a different blockchain system from that of Bitcoin and Ethereum networks, which is one reason that the UN division has chosen to work with the foundation. UNOPS special advisor on blockchain tech, Yoshiyuki Yamamoto claims that the ledger “can be operated on battery power or alternative connectivity networks” in areas with “sporadic access to high-speed internet connections or even electricity”, essential for UN field operations.

Yamamoto points out that an important factor of the collaborative project is that UN will able to apply the technology to real-world use cases. The UN is increasingly using blockchain in numerous projects around the world. Thomson Reuters Foundation reports that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is launching a crypto-funded university solar energy project this year in Moldova in partnership with the South African solar power marketplace Sun Exchange, and many such projects are either underway or planned for the future.

UN aid efforts have a historic problem of fraud, mismanagement, and bureaucratic red tape, but with the ability to circumnavigate governments and banking institutions, transferring aid via blockchain can be far more efficient.

“We don’t do blockchain for blockchain’s sake. We have limited resources and personnel, so we have to focus our efforts on solving real-world challenges. Our priorities stem from our mission as an organization, not from the fads of the crypto space,” Yamamoto concluded.

Yamamoto could not predict how long it might take to move from a pilot phase to fully implementing IOTA’s technology due to the current educational nature of the collaboration.

 

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IBM, Global System set Blockchain Developers Humanitarian Aid Challenge

Global tech giant IBM, through a partnership with anti-poverty campaign movement Global Citizen, is challenging blockchain developers to create a donation tracking program, reports Fortune.

IBM’s aim for the project is to encourage philanthropy by tracking the path of donations, from where the money originated to what it was spent on, and who finally received the funds. It is not the first of such projects promoting support for underdeveloped nations and struggling communities. The Multinational recently launched a pilot blockchain-based project to support small businesses throughout Africa with a Kenyan logistics company.

The two-month competition called “Challenge Accepted” was inspired by the United Nations’ Envision 2030 initiative, which aims to improve the lives of impoverished and at-risk people. It is s open for all comers starting on May 15 and will offer rewards to participating developers, including tickets to the Global Citizen music festival in New York in September.

Simon Moss, a co-founder of Global Citizen, suggests that the technology has the potential to change the face of humanitarian aid, claiming that blockchain can provide the much-needed transparency to donations provided for humanitarian aid:

“Blockchain can provide clarity on not only who is donating, but how money and supplies flow through organizations that provide aid – such as tracking a gallon of water purchased by an organization to the location where it was delivered,” he wrote.

Blockchain solutions to these types of donations have a clear benefit in the light of numerous recent scandals connected with humanitarian overseas aid. The most recent media focus on allegations of 26 claims of sexual misconduct against Oxfam workers in Haiti is a case in point. Potential donors are often concerned about the final destination of their donation. Also, fake charity approaches occur all year round and often take the form of a response to real disasters or emergencies, such as floods, cyclones, earthquakes, and bushfires.

Along with IBM, both the UN and the World Food Programme have also been proactive using blockchain to record transactions.  IBM project manager Kathryn Harrison commented that IBM is looking to become involved in projects that can make some social impact, involving the company in, “opportunities to use this technology in areas that we can do some pretty substantial social good.”

As for the project, IBM has a fairly open requirement for the “Challenge Accepted” competition: “We’re focused on so many different types of use cases. We look at food safety, we look at microfinance, we look things like the environment and carbon credits and energy savings,” Harrison explained.

There’s been a significant rise in recent years in charities which are now supported by cryptocurrency donations. Some of these have joined a growing establishment of charities accepting Bitcoin donations such as Electronic Frontier Foundation, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, WikiLeaks, Antiwar.com, Watsi, Water Project, Code to Inspire, Bitgive and Epic Change.

Charities trialing Bitcoin donations are on the rise. More familiar High Street names include such well-known organizations as the Red Cross and Save the Children.

 

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UN Gets $2.4M from Belgium for Blockchain Food Plan

The World Food Program (WFP) announced on 19 April that it had received a USD 2.4 million contribution from Belgium towards a program to finance blockchain solutions to fight global hunger.

The Belgian donation will be used to expand research of the WFP’s blockchain solutions in addition to its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) project used for topographical data collection.

Belgian deputy prime minister and minister for development cooperation, Alexander De Croo, has calculated that more than 128 million worldwide will need humanitarian support this year.

“Only by finding better ways to deliver aid more efficiently will we close the gap between requirements and aid delivery on the ground,” De Croo said. “Belgium lauds the efforts of WFP to come up with innovative solutions to save more lives and help more people in need.”

WFP chief of staff Rehan Asad has expressed his gratitude towards Belgium, commenting that organizations must continue “to harness the most promising digital technologies in the service of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Using blockchain technology is not new to UN agencies. In 2017 the WFP launched an Ethereum-based payment pilot in Jordan, ‘Building Blocks’, which allowed effective transfer of cash payments to Syrians in Jordan’s refugee camps.

The UN continues to embrace new technologies in its fight against poverty, displacement, and hunger. Drones have recently been used in Mozambique, where WFP-supplied aerial vehicles were able to send flood analysis data on ahead allowing mass movement of people before they could be affected by flooding, avoiding loss of life.

The WFP, with a declared challenge of “zero hunger by 2030”, is not the only UN agency to utilize blockchain technology. The UN Office for Project Services now has a blockchain working group which includes the UN Children’s Fund and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The WFP states that it has made “great progress” in reducing hunger around the world: “There are 216 million fewer hungry people than in 1990-92, despite a 1.9 billion increase in the world’s population.”

The World Food Programme is the food-assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security. According to the WFP, it provides food assistance to an average of 80 million people in 76 countries each year.

 

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