Blockchain can tackle supply chain failures exposed by COVID-19, boost economic recovery: WEF

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April 28, 2020 6:53 PM

Resilience in supply chains depends on trust, transparency and integrity, which can be improved through responsible deployment of blockchain technologies that offer a "shared truth", the WEF said.

"The pressure created by the COVID-19 outbreak on global trade systems highlights an urgent need for global cooperation to maintain and strengthen the resilience of international supply chains," it said.“The pressure created by the COVID-19 outbreak on global trade systems highlights an urgent need for global cooperation to maintain and strengthen the resilience of international supply chains,” it said. (Representative image)

Blockchain technology can help tackle supply chain failures exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and also boost the economic recovery process, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said on Tuesday.

Releasing a ‘blockchain deployment toolkit’ to help organisations improve future pandemic preparedness and accelerate an economic rebound post COVID-19, Geneva-based WEF said it is aimed at helping leaders maximise the benefits and minimise the risks of the technology.

The WEF, which describes itself as an international organisation for public-private partnership, said crises such as the coronavirus pandemic dramatically increase pressure on governments and businesses to maintain resilient supply chains.

“The pressure created by the COVID-19 outbreak on global trade systems highlights an urgent need for global cooperation to maintain and strengthen the resilience of international supply chains,” it said.

Resilience in supply chains depends on trust, transparency and integrity, which can be improved through responsible deployment of blockchain technologies that offer a “shared truth”, the WEF said.

It further said the current pandemic underscores the need for businesses and governments to improve the integrity and provenance of pharmaceutical products and medical supplies, as well as food, goods and industrial and consumer products.

The WEF said the first of its kind toolkit is culmination of more than a year of efforts to capture best practices from blockchain deployment across industries and has drawn on global expertise of more than 100 stakeholders, including governments, companies, startups, academic institutions, civil society, international organisations and technology and supply chain experts.

“The blockchain deployment toolkit is essential for designing solutions that work for a multitude of actors, including smaller players who may not have access to the resources required to unlock the value of blockchain technology. For this reason, the toolkit can level the playing field for small and medium-sized enterprises,” said Nadia Hewett, Blockchain and Digital Currency Project Lead, WEF USA.

“There are many lessons to learn from the current pandemic and this toolkit is a starting point for improving long-term pandemic preparedness and accelerating an economic recovery led by public-private cooperation,” Hewett added.

The toolkit has been piloted in a variety of different contexts by organisations developing blockchain solutions within their supply chains, including the Abu Dhabi Digital Authority, Hitachi, Saudi Aramco as well as a number of SMEs.

Seth Berkley, CEO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said “Gavi continues to explore how technologies such as blockchain can be used to create more resilient supply chains for critical vaccines, particularly in light of COVID-19. The WEF’s toolkit ensures that the exploration and use of blockchain technology is done in a responsible and holistic manner.”

The toolkit was created by the WEF with the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network Fellows from Hitachi, Deloitte and Saudi Aramco.

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