Harnessing the disruptive potential of blockchain technology for the sustainable development goals

This paper explores the use of blockchain-enabled solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Blockchain can be visualized as this cryptographic book of truth upon which robust foundations of trust can be built. While virtually there is so much one can do with the blockchain technology, there is also little evidence to truly assess the contribution of blockchain-backed applications to sustainable development. We argue that more research is required to assess the true extent to which development workers are able or not to transform the promising potential of blockchain-enabled solutions into tangible development results. Individuals and organizations need to look beyond the hype behind the rise of what we refer to as the “let’s blockchain it” movement in international development which suggests that blockchain-based applications are superior compared to other alternatives in terms of their ability to deliver development outcomes. Data from blockchain experiments remains critical to building a body of knowledge to extract good practices and lessons learned towards paving the way for functional blockchain-based ecosystems that are capable of producing nationwide solutions instead of experimentation silos with little impact at scale. The three chapters of this research converge together to form a living Toolkit. By proposing an SDG Acceleration Scorecard and an Integrated Approach to use v blockchain-powered solutions as SDG accelerators, we have made our modest contribution in an attempt to co-create actionable tools to guide innovation and development practitioners as they strive to transform the disruptive potential of blockchain into sustainable development dividends beyond the hype. While we recognize the limitations in developing such tools, which are rather simplistic and not a replacement of academically proven methodologies, they can surely ignite further discussions and trigger future academic investigations. This will in return provide the much-needed food-for-thought during a period of transition as the blockchain technology is getting mature.

Keywords: Blockchain, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Accelerator, Innovation

Please contact us here to request access to this paper.


Mohamed Fouad Bergigui
Fouad is a project design and management specialist, with more than 15 years of experience as a development practitioner in the areas of environment and sustainable development mostly working in Africa and the MENA region. He holds an MBA from Istanbul Şehir University, and a DVM degree from the Agronomic and Veterinary Institute of Morocco. Fouad worked with various grassroot organizations and held different positions within the UN System where he managed a diversified portfolio of projects and supported several countries towards achieving their national SDG targets.