NEW YORK, 15 March 2018 (Office of Information and Communications Technology)
The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the United Nations Department of Management’s Office of Information and Communications Technology announced today that the Blockchain for Social Impact team of ConsenSys has won the Unite Ideas “Blockchain for Humanity” challenge, launched by the World Identity Network, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the United Nations Office of Information and Communications Technology.
A first in the world, this challenge aims at using blockchain technology to help combat child trafficking in the Republic of Moldova. Speaking of the opportunity to use blockchain technology to solve this humanitarian challenge, Joseph Lubin, founder and CEO of ConsenSys said: “ConsenSys is honored to support this critical initiative. The Ethereum platform presents an opportunity to create blockchain-based identity systems that seek to alleviate the systemic causes of human trafficking, making it virtually impossible for data on the system to be improperly manipulated by unauthorized actors. Working with agencies and stakeholders on the ground will be key to deploying innovative blockchain solutions addressing this humanitarian challenge.”
“It is only by working together that we will bring about positive change in the world,” says Mariana Dahan, founder and CEO of World Identity Network. “Technology itself is not a silver bullet, nor the single answer to the humanitarian challenges we face, but it can act as a catalyst and provide the platform and the incentives for collaboration.”
Partners organizing the “Blockchain for Humanity” Global Challenge sought collaboration with private sector companies, civil society, non-governmental organizations, academia and other stakeholders who wanted to be involved and contribute to this cause. The response was overwhelming and the reviewers were impressed with the quality of the submissions.
Besides ConsenSys, other strong proposals came from the AlfaSoft team, a software company in the Republic of Moldova; and Anastasia Miron, a Moldovan-born entrepreneur, who submitted a solution developed in collaboration with the Sovrin Foundation and the ixo Foundation. Both proposals tied for second place in this challenge.
A close runner-up, the BitFury Group won third place in this global challenge with its Exonum solution.
Salem Avan, Director of the Global Services Division in the Office of Information and Communications Technology at the United Nations, reaffirmed that “open-source developers are proving to be an invaluable resource to the United Nations and our partners for efficient, affordable and high-quality solutions that can accelerate our humanitarian response”.
The poorest country in Europe, the Republic of Moldova has been trying to curb child trafficking for decades and has now come to understand the possibilities offered by blockchain technology. “This is a pressing issue and we are eager to find efficient solutions to help us address it,” said Mihail Beregoi, State Secretary, Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Moldova.
Yoshiyuki Yamamoto, Special Adviser for United Nations Engagement and Blockchain Technology at UNOPS, described this initiative as one of the most impactful applications of distributed ledger technologies: “We’re particularly excited about this innovative pilot initiative, since child trafficking is one of the worst example of a crime against humanity. Leveraging blockchain technology for the social good is something that the international community is striving for and we’re delighted to partner with the World Identity Network on this critical initiative.”
The results of such initiatives could contribute to the work of a number of United Nations agencies. Yannick Glemarec, United Nations Assistant Secretary‑General and UN-Women Deputy Executive Director stated: “Child trafficking is one of the greatest human rights abuses. Leveraging blockchain technology offers potentially powerful solutions to address this serious challenge and save the lives of millions of children.”
As a result of the “Blockchain for Humanity” challenge, the World Identity Network produced a report which summarizes the lessons learned from it and the solutions presented. The report, “Turning Invisible Children into Invincible Ones”, is available at: http://bit.ly/2GwWTur.
Illustration Photo: International Children's Day Celebrations in Chisinau, Moldova (credits: Vlad Litvinov / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))