Sustainability is defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
While this is a simple and therefore appealing definition, the devil is in the details. For instance it is rather hard to know the needs of future generations — as we often struggle to understand even our own needs. What is quite clear by now is that such an approach, aiming at a good livelihood for all, has to consider both: natural systems as well as human systems and think them together.
TODAY’S SUSTAINABILITY CRISIS
Today we still struggle to meet even the basic needs of many people of our present generations. While on the other side those who are already well off, live lifestyles that are depleting and destroying nature and natural systems at an unpresented speed, possibly corrupting everyone’s ability to meet their needs in the long and increasingly also on the short run. Sustainability problems like the climate and biodiversity crisis, economic inequality, poverty pose great challenges to humanity.
To help tackle this global challenges the United Nations have defined the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the objective to produce a set of universal goals that meet the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing our world. These goals are broadly defined, very often interdependent, and include 169 sub-targets. The SDGs cover issues including poverty, hunger, health,education, global warming, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy,urbanization, nature conservation protection environment and social justice.
The SDGs provide a common and agreed framework to address our most pressing sustainability issues. To reach these goals it will not only be necessary to work together across sectors, industries, countries and communities but also to find new ways of how to organize our societies and their economies. For this transformation towards sustainability Blockchain based applications could be an important enabling technology. Our project therefore will assess Blockchains potential to contribute to the SDGs.
Blockchain based applications provide many opportunities to help us create a more sustainable world
- more transparency about individual and collective action, as well as reliable provenance within global supply chains.
- strengthen accountability loops and reduce bureaucracy and power asymmetries enabling new types of applications.
- incentivize environmental friendly behaviour with purpose driven tokens.
But isn’t Blockchain un-sustainable? Widespread media coverage about mining aspects of Bitcoin and other Blockchains very often focus on the energy inefficiency of this technology.
While this technology is in fact energy intense, most media coverages (a) fail to compare the CO2 footprint of Bitcoin transactions with the CO2 footprint of state of the art non-blockchain solutions like bank transactions, and also (b) forget to mention that the crypto community is in fact working on solutions to this problem, all of which I will address and cover in a separate blog post published later this fall. Right now I would like to focus on how this new technologies can help us “program a sustainable world”.