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ChainDD Exclusive | How Does Blockchain Technology Help the UN's Sustainable Development Goals

Abstract : The ambassador described his experience as a government diplomat and a non-governmental consulting firm, and he felt deeply about the importance of effective dialogue between the government and the private sector.

ChainDD
ChainDD

Nov 19

Catherine Li, founding partner of ChainDDin the United States, had an exclusive interview with Mr. Alexandru Cujba, ambassador of the republic of moldova to the United Nations and former vice President of the UN economic and social commission. From the first perspective, she learned how the United Nations can use and support the landing of blockchain technology to promote and achieve its sustainable development goals.

In a one-hour conversation, the ambassador described his experience as a government diplomat and a non-governmental consulting firm, and he felt deeply about the importance of effective dialogue between the government and the private sector.

He also points out that Facebook's Libra project got off to a bad start, in part because it failed to communicate adequately with government regulators and underestimated the negative social effects of technology. This made him more aware that how to talk to the government is crucial to the business and technology promotion of private enterprises.

The following is chainDD's Mr. Alexandru Cujba interview:

Q: What is Blockchain Alliance International and what is your vision and mission?

A: Blockchain Alliance International is a non-governmental organization that collaborates with non-governmental organizations, the private sector, academia, governments and multilateral institutions with the objective of rallying technological and informational support to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Our vision to build a public-private forum to promote further development of blockchain as a transformative technology and to create broader benefits to the world as a result of effective public-private collaboration. Blockchain is an amazing technology and can be used in many fields. For example, many developing countries have huge food production and agricultural output. But the storage and transportation are bad. Half of them gets rotten when those agricultural products reach the market so it will drive up the price for consumers. In addition, the food safety and quality cannot be ensured due to the environmental pollution and defective production system in some countries.

Blockchain technology can be used in those areas to trace its production process all the way from the seed to the table to ensure its safety compliance as well as to improve the coordination of the suppliers, distributors and transporters in the entire supply chain. This is just one example. There are so many use cases to be discussed these days in terms of the use of blockchain. Our mission is to discuss the topic of innovative ICT technologies in support of the SDGs and to learn from innovators, scientists, and decision makers regarding development goals and challenges, results, and solutions in entrepreneurship, technology, and public policy; examine particular cases; share expertise, and leverage blockchain to transform the planet by 2030.  

Q: What is your motivation to launch this non-profit organization called Blockchain Alliance International

A: I will start from my professional background. I served as a diplomat for my country Moldova and later became the ambassador at the United Nations. And I have attended many meetings at the U.N. where people were talking about different issues such as health, education or protection of human rights etc. And I've seen people’s passion during the meeting but not too much in the execution due to many challenges faced including financial support, capacity and expertise etc. Those discussions would usually end up with meeting minutes and research paper most of time.  

After concluding my job at the government of Moldova, I worked for several years in a consulting firm and there I noticed that the power of civil society is increasing every day and many of non-profit initiatives were launched and well executed by civil society. So the power and the passion of civil society leaders and their organizations is being felt at the United Nations. At U.N. we highly encourage governments to work closely and being in collaboration with private sectors to support and implement the defined 17 sustainable development goals. And the main purpose of BAI is also to forge more meaningful dialog and collaboration between the public and private sector. 

Q: Why do you choose Blockchain not other technologies, such as AI, to drive your vision and mission? 

A: I met a lot of innovators and they are so knowledgeable and have strong desires to change the world by using the technology. While at the government the officials usually don’t have the capacity to learn new technology and don’t have clear idea of how technology can help their country and people, which is the case specially in small developing countries. How I can use my experience from the public and private sectors to connect them, to build the trust and to promote the collaboration? Blockchain, as a trust machine, came to my mind as I realized it goes beyond the technology scope and is more of cultural change.

So blockchain is a technology that will bring transparency through data sharing and consensus mechanism and ultimately help improve the efficiency. I think we can educate the people at U.N. and its member countries, propose the resolutions to the concrete issues by using this technology, and connect them with the problem solvers from the private sectors. 

Q: You know Libra’s roll-out had received quite significant concerns from the U.S regulatory bodies as well as some negative feedback from U.N.. So it won’t be easy to convince the government or U.N. with the emerging technology and it’s potential disruptive changes as their mindset tends to be more conservative. What are the challenges do you foresee and how will you overcome some of them while you’re advocating BAI? 

A: I have the expectation for those challenges as it is always difficult to change the way that people are used to think and behave. Thats why I think the education to the public sector needs to be offered from the private sector where the real business scenarios are presented and concrete solutions have been implemented. Then the discussion no longer ends up with just meeting minutes or research paper. It will call for the actionable steps with the policy support and regulatory guidance from the public sector and the compliant technology-driven solutions from the private sector.

I personally think Libra team should have conducted enough discussion and gained adequate support from the public sector before making a splash. Its unparallel global impact backfires in this case. So it is a big lesson learned. That’s why it’s important to bridge the understanding gap first between the public and private sector and make the regulatory pressure be a positive and supportive force while introducing some disruptive technology. That’s the whole purpose of launching BAI and to build a platform where the effective collaboration between the public and private sector will take place more often and the new technology like blockchain will be adopted more quickly without creating unexpected negative social impacts. 

Q: BAI will host its first meeting at U.N. on January 10th, 2020 by inviting the government representatives to U.N., diplomats, the industry experts and entrepreneurs. What are the main topics of this meeting and what are the actions after this meeting? 

A: BAI’s January 10th meeting held at United Nations is just a starting point to introduce BAI’s initiatives and to demonstrate how blockchain can be used to support U.N.’s sustainable development goals.

There will be a series of meetings and concrete milestones to achieve in April, July and the rest of 2020. We will figure out how BAI’s initiative will fit into the framework under U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs and actions that we will take to promote blockchain for its broader adoption through public-private collaboration. We will keep the community posted and will need everyone’s support in the journey of advocating blockchain.

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