UNITAR Hosts Seminar on Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies
April 11, 2018 – New York, USA – The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), in collaboration with the UN Office of Information Communication Technology (OICT), presented a seminar on Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies and how these exciting technologies can be applied to furthering the Mission of the United Nations.
The seminar began with opening remarks from Mr. Marco Suazo, Head of UNITAR New York Office, and Mr. Lambert Hogenhout, Chief of Analytics,Partnership and Innovation at OICT, on the subject matter of the day and introductions of the panelists. The first section of the seminar was presented by Ms. Ariana Fowler, Impact Analyst at ConsenSYS, who introduced participants to the basics behind Blockchain technology and the Ethereum platform, which allows Blockchain technology to be tailor-made to individual purposes, while taking advantage of the many security and record-keeping advantages of using Blockchain code. Going into more detail, Ms. Fowler described some of the complex components that allow Blockchain to work as well as the many potential uses, specifically the ability to remove traditional intermediaries between vendors and consumers and manufacturers and retailers. Blockchain technology can be used for positive social impact in many areas, including the prevention of sex trafficking, ensuring uncensored internet access, and voter transparency.
The next section expanded on the many possible applications for Blockchain in the development and humanitarian sectors. The first presenter represented innovation at the World Food Programme (WFP) and discussed how the WFP was using Blockchain to more efficiently transfer cash vouchers to Syrian refugees in Jordan, cutting out the intermediary bank and delivering more services to those in need. The next section, presented by OICT and UNOPS, looked at how Blockchain technology could be utilized to protect and ensure people’s identities, especially if they were displaced, their identities, preserved by Blockchain, would follow them wherever they went. A representative from UNICEF expanded on these uses by introducing the concept of Blockchain tokens that would ensure proper distribution of aid, reducing waste and abuse.
The final section was presented by UN Women, who introduced the many possibilities that Blockchain technology offered to help women who are displaced by crises. Women are disproportionately affected by crises and often lack documentation and face financial exclusion. Blockchain offers a decentralized method for proving identity, something traditionally held only by the government. This will allow women, children, and other vulnerable groups to better safeguard their futures following crises or displacement.
UNITAR looks forward to continuing our partnership with OICT in providing information sessions on exciting new topics.
Photos: panelists and participants of the workshop