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Davos, Switzerland, 23 January 2020 – Today, consumers are more concerned than ever about the social and environmental impacts of the products they purchase. Almost 90% would like big brands to help them be more environmentally friendly and ethical. Blockchain technology offers a way to showcase sustainability and environmentally friendly practices, but private blockchains do not address rising customer transparency demands.
Today, the World Economic Forum is announcing the first neutral and public traceability platform capable of visualizing blockchain-based supply chain data from multiple companies and sources. It aims to help businesses across industries respond to consumer demands for ethical and environmentally friendly products.
To date, companies have self-published such data or relied on blockchain solution providers to do so. The pilot platform resulting from this initiative, however, can ingest blockchain-based data from multiple sources and visualize it on a neutral site.
It was created in collaboration with a dedicated group of champions comprised by Everledger, Lenzing Group, TextileGenesis™ and the International Trade Centre. The International Trade Centre, a UN entity with universal membership by mandate, has hosted it via its Sustainability Map (https://sustainabilitymap.org). In this way, the ITC can assure all parties that their data will not be shared externally, and that sensitive data can be hosted at UN data centres to benefit from UN neutrality, immunities and privileges.
The partnerships, combined with the Forum’s ability to accelerate and amplify public-private cooperation, enables the platform to be neutral and safe place, encouraging cross-industry collaboration and using public and private sector inputs to shape the future of supply chain traceability, transparency and sustainability.
“Transparent supply chains are happening,” said Francisco Betti, Head, Platform for Shaping the Future of Advanced Manufacturing and Production, World Economic Forum. “To help companies respond to consumer demands and not get left behind, we have built the first platform that works across industries to interpret data from different blockchain solution providers. We hope this will accelerate adoption and encourage more companies to join and co-design the technical scope as well as how we tackle tough questions around privacy and how we connect the physical and digital worlds.”
Consumers and companies alike have an interest in making supply chains more transparent, but they have lacked a trusted and neutral aggregating platform where companies could publicly visualize supply chain data captured in distributed ledgers.
These visualizations will soon be overlaid with the ITC’s other databases, allowing users to have a comprehensive picture of the flow of goods and other key environmental and social indicators and certifications of supply chain partners.
“In order to bring the circular economy to fruition, technology will need to deliver greater trust, transparency and traceability, so it’s fantastic to see an increasing number of initiatives driving towards these goals,” said Leanne Kemp, CEO of Everledger. “It’s vital high-profile organisations like the World Economic Forum & ITC advocate practices of this kind, calls for greater collaboration and coordination between relevant institutions at the international level and between the different stakeholders at industry level.”
“As consumers are more aware than ever about the social and environmental impacts of the apparel they purchase, transparency is key to addressing their concerns. The Lenzing Group, a world market leader in production of fibers from the renewable raw material wood, therefore uses blockchain technology to maximize the digital traceability of fibers, thus making an important contribution to green up the fashion industry”, says Stefan Doboczky, Chief Executive Officer of the Lenzing Group. “A growing number of suppliers contributing to traceability platforms like the one of ITC is essential to globally supporting sustainability and fighting climate change.”
“Now more than ever, ensuring a sustainable future hinges on our ability to create reliable traceability and transparency across global supply chains,” says Dorothy Tembo, Executive Director, a.i., International Trade Centre. “With many organizations committing to supporting such a future, this effort shows that a collaborative platform for digital traceability is technically possible and has the potential to transform how we think about transparency in supply chains.”
Critical to Phase 2 of this effort will be incorporating more data sources and more perspectives to help address the challenges outlined above. Asia Pacific Rayon (APR), EVRYTHNG and PlataformaVerde have already agreed to join this initiative in 2020, and the World Economic Forum is now inviting brands and suppliers currently using blockchain for traceability to join this effort and help shape the future of digital traceability to enhance the transparency and sustainability of the global manufacturing and production ecosystem. Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Asia Pacific Rayon, a manufacturer of viscose staple fibre, has started harnessing the potential of enterprise blockchain technology to enable customers to trace finished products back to the plantation forest origins on a smartphone app. To be able now to connect our data to other similar industry initiatives is a natural next step for APR, as is extending the benefits of our upstream traceability to the rest of the textile value chain. The more data is shared, the more we can join the dots to harness efficiencies as a business as well as provide sustainability assurance to consumers.” - Ben Poon, Business Head Asia Pacific Rayon (APR).
“Transparency in supply chains is now fundamental to competitiveness, with 74% of North American and European consumers saying they’ll choose brands based on better transparency, and 32% of the global consumer population values-driven GenZ. An open, trusted ecosystem for data sharing is critical to meeting the need and scaling its accessibility to all stakeholders. Circularity in the world’s supply chains of consumer goods, the path to sustainability, cannot be achieved without new networks to exchange data.” - Niall Murphy, CEO & Co-Founder EVRYTHNG.
“Green Plat (PlataformaVerde) has been working in the past years to help companies accelerate sustainable production using our blockchain traceability and management software. We are seeking management improvements through supply chain digitalization while also enhancing environmental compliance and fostering data transparency.”- Chicko Sousa, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Plataforma Verde, Brazil.
All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.