Blockchain for Good? Digital Ledger Technology and Sustainable Development Goals
Blockchain technology (aka Distributed Ledger Technology or DLT) is a novel configuration of Peer-to-Peer, cryptographic and distributed computing technologies that have the potential to shift the internet from an internet of information to an internet of value network, with significant disruptive potential. To date, the cryptocurrency ‘bitcoin’ is the application of DLT that has attracted most attention, not all of it favourable. However, DLTs are about much more than cryptocurrencies and, as Kranzberg’s (1986) first law of technology, that ‘Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral’ reminds us, we can ethically frame applications of new technologies. To date, research has tended to focus on the technical characteristics of DLTs, and there has been little reflection on potential socially and environmentally beneficial use cases: Blockchain for Good (B4G). The aim of this this exploratory and descriptive paper is to reflect on innovative B4G applications that could help deliver socially and environmentally beneficial outcomes, framed in terms of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, through challenging existing business models and providing new opportunities for value creation.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of a BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant (SG160335) in the preparation of this work.
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