A new PwC study for the World Economic Forum published at the Global Climate Action Summit identifies more than 65 ways in which blockchain can be applied to the most challenging environmental challenges in the world.
Produced in collaboration with PwC, as part of the project th Industrial Revolution, Building blockchains for a better planet examines how new global platforms could incubate responsible blockchain ecosystems. It ranges from decentralizing the management of natural resources such as energy and water to creating more transparent supply chains that promote greater sustainability and provide new mechanisms to increase the trillions of dollars needed to achieve economic growth sustainable and low-carbon  Blockchain-enabled solutions are currently being studied to improve the sustainability of global supply chains and could help overcome illegal activities by tracking fish from "bait to slab" or products such as palm oil, beef and soybeans from "farm to table". This transparency is crucial for influencing consumer decisions, updating supply chain practices and triggering new governance arrangements. Blockchain-enabled smart contracts could, for example, be used to support innovative ownership agreements that confer specific rights to communities or fishermen
According to the report, these and other opportunities have been largely unused by developers, investors and governments, and represent an opportunity to unlock and monetize the value that is currently embedded in environmental systems.
Celine Herweijer, Partner, PwC UK, commented: "Blockchain applications to transform finance and commerce have been since the start for business and investors to date. Opportunities for new ideas to exploit this nascent technology to help make big gains for our environment, from transparent and reliable, ethical and transparent supply chains to incentivize sustainable consumption and production or support the much-needed transition to decentralized energy systems at low carbon, water and mobility. "
" It is important for anyone thinking of developing or investing in a blockchain application for the environment to step back and ask three essential questions: the blockchain will solve the real problem, downside risks or unwanted consequences will be managed in an acceptable way and will the right stakeholder ecosystem be built? "
If exploited in the just right, blockchain has significant potential to enable the transition to cleaner, more resource-friendly decentralized solutions, unlock natural capital and empower communities. This is particularly important for the environment, where the tragedy of common goods and the challenges of non-financial value prevail.
As the report states:
The over 65 solutions identified as particularly relevant for environmental applications tend to cluster around the following cross-cutting themes:
- Enabling decentralized systems
- Peer-to-peer negotiation -peer of natural resources or permits
- Monitoring of supply chain and tracing of origin
- New models of financing, including the democratization of investments
- Realization of non-financial value, including natural capital
challenge for innovators, investors and governments is to identify and scale these pioneering innovations for both people and the planet – also making central sustainability considerations for the wider development and use of blockchain.
"If history has taught us anything, it is that these transformational changes will not happen tomatically," said Dominic Waughray, head of the Center for Global Public Goods of the World Economic Forum. "It will require deliberate collaboration between different stakeholders, from technology industries to environmental policymakers, and will need to be supported by new platforms that support these stakeholders to advance not only a technological application, but the systems that will allow to really take hold. "