Applications and Use Cases

The Role of Blockchain in an Adaptive, Post COVID-19 Global Supply Chain

May 15, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed some of our biggest global shortcomings, including fractured supply chains that lack connectivity and the ability to exchange necessary data. According to the World Economic Forum, blockchain has an important role to play as the global trade network slowly gets rebuilt.

Blockchain is already being used globally to help fight the coronavirus, enabling transparency in medical supply chains, facilitating donations to global healthcare organizations and providing the building blocks for contact tracing and early detection and warning systems. Governments are also turning to blockchain and global ledgers to track social movements and outbreaks and even to facilitate remote voting.

"The 'visibility, traceability, and interoperability' of blockchain platforms to fortify, better connect and improve the resilience of supply chains will also be critical to getting the recovery underway in the world beyond the COVID-19 crisis," wrote Mariam Obaid AlMuhairi, project manager at the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution UAE at the Dubai Future Foundation.

According to research from the Centre, there are more than 100 blockchain stakeholders from more than 60 public and private entities in the UAE. The stakeholders queried indicated that an adaptive supply chain will require total and willing buy-in from all stakeholders, educational awareness and clear regulatory implications for businesses.

The blockchain entities believe educational awareness is one of the biggest roadblocks to adoption. As a result, the World Economic Forum is working with the international blockchain community to create toolkits with a supply chain focus. The kits are designed to guide individuals and organizations through the development and deployment of new blockchain solutions. They offer tools, resources and information for organizations launching blockchain projects.

“The aim of the toolkit is to support decision makers in effectively deploying blockchain technology in their respective entities,” said Nadia Hewett, project lead for Blockchain and Digital Currency at the World Economic Forum.

The toolkit has been trialed globally by a number of entities, including the Abu Dhabi Digital Authority in the UAE in support of its blockchain infrastructure development strategy. The Authority is comprised of leaders from government, businesses, start-ups, academic institutions, civil societies and a number of international organizations.

In addition to educational awareness, the Centre found that operational and regulatory challenges, not technology, were the among the biggest roadblocks to global blockchain adoption.

"The challenge is not about identifying the right blockchain technology for the specific need, it’s about providing the supportive structure around to adapt it -- a challenge we see coming to the surface clearly in today’s COVID-19 world," wrote AlMuhairi. "And, with over four trillion consumer products made and shipped around the world each year, we cannot afford to continue operating in the dark when it comes to keeping track of these products -- especially when some of these products could save lives."

Edited by Maurice Nagle



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