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UN Aviation Agency President: Blockchain Can Offer Tremendous Benefits for Industry

Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu said that blockchain technology could offer tremendous benefits across global aviation systems.

The President of the United Nation’s specialized agency for aviation has said that blockchain technology could offer tremendous benefits across aviation systems globally, industry news source AirTrafficManagement.net reported on April 4.

The president, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, made his remarks to an international audience of government officials, aviation and tech experts during the inaugural Council for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Blockchain Summit and Exhibition in Abu Dhabi.

Dr. Aliu noted that with global air traffic volumes anticipated to double over the next 15 years, blockchain technologies have a major potential to reduce pressure on current resources, while sustaining quality amid increasing demand.

With increased air traffic, ground, passenger, ticketing and cargo handling activities are set to intensify, the ATM news reporter notes — along with the accompanying tracking, administrative and certification requirements. In this light, Dr. Aliu emphasized that:

“Blockchain has the potential to virtually exclude loss, distortion, or forgery of vital log data in all aviation sectors where certificates are issued and controlled.”

He further reportedly noted that blockchain implementation can be envisioned across virtually all areas of aviation where complex records — that are crucial for safety — need to be created and updated including personnel licensing, aircraft maintenance, operational approvals and cargo manifests.

The ICAO president also reportedly isolated verifying traveller identity as a major area where blockchain can offer benefits for the aviation industry and governments worldwide.

Given its prospective transformative impact, Dr. Aliu stressed that integration of the technology is likely to present fundamental challenges for the industry:

“The aviation system today relies mostly on human agents or intermediaries to assume validation activities, and so we can foresee that the integration of blockchain […] in support of a state’s aviation safety oversight system, for example, would likely require substantial adjustments to related regulations, procedures, and responsibilities.”

He thus stressed the need to mitigate cyber risks and to ensure that stakeholders and states coordinate a robust and global cybersecurity strategy where blockchain — and notably, smart contracts — could be used to manage critical safety and security processes for civil aviation.

As previously reported, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was ostensibly selected as a host venue for the ICAO summit due to local authorities’ ongoing efforts to implement blockchain at state level in various areas of the local economy. The event is being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and included the country’s minister of economy as speaker.

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UN Partnership to Roll Out Blockchain-Based Telemedicine, Telepsychology in East Africa

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has partnered with blockchain-based telemedicine and telepsychology firm doc.com.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will reportedly partner with blockchain-based telemedicine and telepsychology firm doc.com to expand free basic healthcare services across Eastern Africa. News of the partnership was shared with Cointelegraph in an email on Dec. 26.

In an officially sealed letter signed on Dec. 20 by Amado Philip de Andres, Regional Representative for UNODC’s Regional Office for Eastern Africa (ROEA), de Andres wrote that the organization is “willing to cooperate […] in a new partnership.” Doc.com is a tech firm that offers blockchain-based 24/7 telemedicine and telepsychology platforms, allowing users to tokenize their personal data and sell it in return for access to the services.

Via the UN partnership, the company now reportedly plans to roll out both its platforms to the African market by the second quarter of 2019.

Up until now, the company has reportedly operated in 20 countries, most recently opening an office in the United States. Its data and healthcare service ecosystem uses an ERC20-compatible token dubbed “MTC,” which is currently tradable on several crypto exchanges, such as Singapore-based Coinbene and Kucoin.

According to statistics on the company website, over 130,000 users have to date used its telemedicine services and almost 70,000 have used its doc.com, “Emotions,” telepsychology platform.

Doc.com also reportedly plans this year to expand its services across a wider range of U.S. states, to launch its tokenized telemedicine service in the United Kingdom by March 2019, and to branch out to the Asian market, starting with India, by the end of 2019.

Aside from these expansion plans, the company states it plans to launch its in-house mainnet by Q1 2019 to replace its existing Ethereum-based ERC20 token system. It will also launch a subsidiary blockchain-based veterinary services system, dubbed “doc Pets,” in the U.S. by Q2 2019.

As previously reported, blockchain has been gaining increasing traction across healthcare and related sectors that involve highly sensitive data. In the field of genomics, several initiatives are harnessing the technology’s potential to provide a secure and equitable means of not only monetizing and managing the circulation of existing data, but of incentivizing its generation.

Earlier this month, a group of major U.S. healthcare companies formed an alliance to trial blockchain solutions that would improve data integrity and security and reduce costs — the latest of a series of similar approaches being developed globally.

For its part, the UN has long been exploring multiple –– largely humanitarian –– use cases for blockchain, beginning with its use of the Ethereum blockchain to transfer coupons based on cryptocurrencies to refugees in Syria, followed by a blockchain-based digital identity system designed to combat child trafficking globally.

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United Nations Puts Blockchain at Center of New ‘High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation’

The United Nations’ (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres has created a ‘High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation,’ which explicitly puts blockchain technology on the agenda,  UN News revealed yesterday, July 12.

The panel, said to be “the first of its kind,” will gather 20 eminent figures from industry, civil society and academia to tackle the impact of digital technologies on global economies and societies –– an impact ongoing at “unprecedented scale” and “warp speed,” in Guterres’ words.

Representing the new body on behalf of the UN Secretariat, Executive Director and co-chair, Ambassador Amandeep Gill, said:

“You cannot look at ‘web 3.0’ without looking at blockchain or without looking at AI (Artificial Intelligence) […] our hope is that through discussion of these various digital domains […] in terms of human rights, in terms of privacy, in terms of subversion of democracy, we are able to come out with some common principles…of strengthening cooperation across borders.”

Gill emphasized “the opportunities and the risks and the unintended consequences” of digital transformation, citing mounting concern about both cyber-attacks and suspected election-tampering.

The ambassador considered that the panel’s “cross-cutting” approach to new technologies such as blockchain and AI would enable it to “maximize” its impact over the course of its nine-month mandate.

The Secretary-General has also revealed the panel’s co-chairs as being U.S. philanthropist Melinda Gates and Jack Ma, the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

As Cointelegraph reported, Ma introduced blockchain technology through Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial as early as summer 2016. The firm has since raised $14 billion for blockchain development, and recently successfully trialled its first blockchain remittances.

With Ma recently affirming “that the impact of blockchain on the future of humans may be far beyond our imagination,” his co-chairmanship of the new UN panel signals a positive step for global dissemination of the technology.

For its part, the UN has long been exploring multiple –– largely humanitarian –– use cases for blockchain, beginning with its use of the Ethereum blockchain to transfer coupons based on cryptocurrencies to refugees in Syria.

Since then, it has also piloted a blockchain-based digital identity system designed to combat child trafficking globally. This April, the Belgian government contributed €2 mln to promote a blockchain project by the World Food Programme (WFP), which would allow the UN to use the technology to fight hunger in impoverished areas.

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Cryptocurrencies 'Are Not Going Away' Says CFTC Official

Cryptocurrencies are here to stay, a U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission official said this week.

Rostin Benham, one of the CFTC’s commissioners, spoke during the Blockchain for Impact Global Summit, held at the United Nations Plaza on Monday. During his speech, he emphasized the major potential for blockchain to address issues in healthcare, employment and crime, among other sectors.

Calling cryptocurrencies a “technological revolution,” Behnam said:

“But virtual currencies may – will – become part of the economic practices of any country, anywhere. Let me repeat that: these currencies are not going away and they will proliferate to every economy and every part of the planet … Virtual currencies could transform the economic and social landscape.”

Benham also warned against the flip-side of cryptocurrencies if they are not properly overseen, saying “if we are not thoughtful, if we do not remain ever diligent to the movements within the transformation, we may unleash corruption, criminality and division on a greater scale.”

“Blockchain could become a source for repression and totalitarianism,” he warned.

This is not the first time Benham has expressed caution about the potential use cases for blockchain. In an earlier address last month at the FIA Law and Compliance conference, he shared concerns over the possibility of cryptocurrencies threatening the stability of the financial industry.

Still, his sentiments over blockchain remain ever cognizant of the new technology’s ability to remake “our economic, social, and political relations.”

The BFI summit was aimed at uncovering the applications of blockchain technology to sustainable development and humanitarian challenges by engaging the United Nations (UN) departments, funds, programs and specialized agencies. It is part of a broader initiative by the Blockchain Commission for Sustainable Development that was established last year by the UN General Assembly.

UN flag image via Shutterstock.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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UN’s Project Services Arm Partners With IOTA to ‘Expedite’ its Mission With Blockchain

The United Nations signed a “memorandum of understanding” with blockchain platform IOTA to explore how the technology can increase efficiency, the two parties confirmed May 22.

In a press release about the partnership, which features the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the organization said the focus was on cutting intermediaries using blockchain.

“We share a vision where machines, devices, sensors and people connect and communicate to each other – it’s the world of ‘Industry 4.0.,’” Yoshiyuki Yamamoto, UNOPS’ Special Advisor on Blockchain Technology explained, continuing:

“Harnessing technology that allows for these processes to work simultaneously, without the need for intermediaries, will help expedite our mission as an organization.”

Together with IOTA, the organization will also offer “training workshops” and “thought leadership seminars,” in addition to “the development of specific proof-of-concepts to bring greater efficiencies to specific areas of UNOPS work.”

The move marks a further implementation of blockchain at the UN, which has sought to deploy it over multiple areas in recent years.

In November 2017, a partnership with the World Identity Network saw work on the creation of a digital identity system to fight child trafficking, while prior to that in June, the UN used Ethereum’s network a means to distribute international aid.

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UNDP Partners With Crypto Startup on Solar Power Pilot

Blockchain startup Sun Exchange has partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on a pilot program that seeks to bring solar power to a university in Moldova.

The solar panels will be owned by individuals around the world and leased to the recipient university, which allows the school to save on the costs of building the equipment, according to a blog post. Notably, the panels’ owners will be paid exclusively in cryptocurrency.

Sun Exchange chief executive Abe Cambridge said the university would lease the panels for 20 years, during which time whoever owns the panels would receive some amounts of bitcoin, solarcoin and the startup’s own crypto token as compensation. The “buy-to-lease” platform allows these individuals to pay for the cost of building and the installation of the panels, which sell for under $10 apiece.

While the UN blog post mentions the Technical University of Moldova as a likely recipient for the pilot program, the actual school has not yet been determined, Cambridge told CoinDesk. However, the panels are scheduled to begin generating power within the next three months.

While right now the startup helps people purchase and lease the cells, Cambridge ultimately wants the cells to be directly tradeable on exchanges through a representative token, he said, adding:

“Our goal is to tokenize the solar cell so they can be traded on exchanges. That’s going to be a non-fungible token and for the moment we can’t see that working under the current state of blockchain development [but] we want the solar cells to be accessed and referenced by digital transfers.”

The startup is helping people become familiar with trading cryptocurrencies he said, noting that “a lot of our customers are using bitcoin for the very first time,” but that “about three quarters … ask to be paid back in bitcoin rather than their [fiat] currency.”

If the project is successful, it could be expanded into more nations, he added.

UNDP project manager Dumitru Vasilescu, who is overseeing the pilot program, told CoinDesk that the “decision to partner with Sun Exchange is based on our understanding of the replicability of their model.”

He said that if the project is successful, “we will search for replication in countries where UNDP operates.”

“We are currently preparing for the pilot and will be soon looking into potential [Engineering, Procurement and Construction] companies,” Vasilescu explained.

Solar cells image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Belgium Contributes To World Food Programme Blockchain Project

The government of Belgium is making a contribution of €2 mln to promote a Blockchain project by the World Food Programme (WFP), the WFP announced April 19.

The contribution will reportedly allow the United Nations (UN) to use Blockchain technology to fight against hunger in impoverished areas. The “Building Blocks” project is piloted with other agencies in the UN and has been implemented to make WFP cash transfers to refugees more efficient and transparent. Over 100,000 Syrian refugees in camps in Jordan have benefited from the project, using donations provided by donors to get food and other crucial resources.

The project was presented at the Leveraging Innovation for Humanitarian Action in New York. Commenting on Belgium’s contribution to the initiative, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation, Alexander De Croo, said:

“Innovation saves lives. This year, more than 128 mln people across the world will need humanitarian assistance and protection. This is triple the number of three years ago. Only by finding better ways to deliver aid more efficiently will we close the gap between requirements and aid delivery on the ground. Belgium lauds the efforts of WFP to come up with innovative solutions to save more lives and help more people in need.”

In May last year, the UN announced its plans to use Ethereum Blockchain technology to ensure refugees in Jordan have access to food rations by distributing coupons which would be used in place of the local currency. The technology had already been tested by the WFP in Pakistan with more than 10,000 people having benefited.

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€2 Million Donation to Fund World Food Programme Blockchain Project

Belgium has contributed €2 million ($2.4 million) to support the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) technology projects, including its blockchain-based payments pilot for refugees.

“Only by finding better ways to deliver aid more efficiently will we close the gap between requirements and aid delivery on the ground,” Belgium’s deputy prime minister and minister for development cooperation, Alexander De Croo, said in a statement, adding:

“Belgium lauds the efforts of the WFP to come up with innovative solutions to save more lives and help more people in need.”

As CoinDesk has previously reported, WFP launched its ethereum-based payments pilot in 2017 with the intention of increasing the efficacy and transparency of cash transfers to displaced Syrians in Jordanian refugee camps.

The U.N’s food assistance branch claims the project, dubbed Building Blocks, “is delivering more [aid] for less, offering donors better value for money.”

Belgium’s contribution will be used to expand research of the agency’s blockchain solutions in addition to its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) project, which it intends to use for topographical data collection and damage analysis to better cope with natural disasters.

WFP chief of staff Rehan Asad said in the statement that it was necessary to meet mounting global crises with innovative solutions.

“Humanitarians must relentlessly look for ways to harness the most promising digital technologies in the service of the world’s most vulnerable people,” he said. “We are grateful to committed partners such as Belgium for helping us do just that.”

The WFP is one of several U.N. agencies exploring blockchain applications. In 2017, the U.N. Office for Project Services (UNOPS) organized a blockchain working group which, in addition to the WFP,  includes the participation of the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), U.N. Women, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the U.N. Development Group (UNDG).

WFP image via U.S. Department of Defense 

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Crypto Startup Blockchain Partners With UN on Sustainability Goals

Cryptocurrency wallet startup Blockchain is partnering with the United Nations to explore applications of blockchain in a range of areas, from natural resource conservation to the protection of democratic systems.

The partnership, announced Thursday, sees the U.K.-based company working with volunteers from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the UN Development Program (UNDP), as well as the World Economic Forum (WEF). As part of that work, a new white paper has been produced that dives into some of those issues as they relate to the international group’s work on sustainable development.

Indeed, the technology has been raised as one possible avenue for addressing some of the areas in the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda. As previously reported by CoinDesk, UN representatives have discussed how blockchain could be used to provide digital identification to refugees, among other areas.

Blockchain is betting that its new white paper will help advance some of those conversations. In a statement, the company said the release “provides a first step in helping policy makers, regulators and UN Member States gain an understanding of blockchain technology.”

The startup also announced that its co-founder, Nic Cary, will join the UN’s Blockchain Commission for Sustainable Development, which was launched in September of last year.

“The future is now and it is imperative that we engage in a multi-stakeholder approach and develop transparent and replicable policy around solutions that will advance humanity and allow these technologies to drive the Sustainable Development Agenda in ways that are currently unimaginable,” Fernandez de Cordova, who serves as vice chairman of the commission, said in a statement.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Blockchain.

The full white paper can be found below:

The Future is Decentralised by CoinDesk on Scribd

U.N. headquarters image via Shutterstock

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