We just launched a new report from our project #DLT4Good – Co-creating a European Ecosystem of DLTs for Social and Public Good. You can download it here.

Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) are mostly known for business use cases, from cryptocurrencies to asset track and tracing. But there are numerous organisations nowadays searching for alternative ways to harness the potential of DLTs in the pursuit of public and social good, from local to global challenges, and towards more inclusive, cooperative, sustainable, ethical or accountable digital and physical worlds.

This report intends to shed a light on why this topic deserves attention from research to policy, what are its defining features and key principles, how is it developing through concrete initiatives, and what ideas can be put forward for decision-makers to reflect about and act upon at this moment in time.

For an overview of DLTs in the field of social and public good and how their current use can be further explored for positive impact, go to Part One of the report, with following highlights:

  • We should look into how DLT projects can strengthen civil society or the public space in contexts as financial inclusion, fair supply chains, or sustainable environment. But the general role of DLTs here must be assessed through more than just the identity or purpose of specific applications. There is also a need to understand how DLT features such as decentralisation can be generally approached, and in which ways this heightens the impact of these technologies.
  • Main differences in uses of DLTs for social and public good often come attached with drivers for decentralisation. Multiple motivations and approaches generate impact, not tied to institutional layouts or market orientations. But broader effects can be linked with investing in decentralisation beyond technical structures, such as at governance and other levels, combined with principles as autonomy, openness, privacy, or commons-based implementations.
  • The expansion of decentralisation offers other possibilities when we observe for instance current and upcoming financial or organisational territories of experimentation. This is crucial as a testbed for wider and more inclusive innovations necessary for larger DLT spaces, with examples such as new collaboration platforms for resource distribution and management, which allow for alternative forms to allocate value and decision-making powers.

To get acquainted with the fast-changing European Ecosystem of DLT projects pursuing social and public good goals, read Part Two of the report. We present here a summary of 131 projects and a quantitative analysis of related trends and patterns.

This also includes a qualitative review of ten projects to showcase heterogeneity in the field, regarding approaches to decentralisation, impacts, geographies, sectors, applications, technical and governance structures, funding models, lessons learned, and anticipatory outlooks. A combined reading of them highlights that:

  • Looking to commonalities, it is perceivable that all projects share a criticism of current network structures and the centralization they embody. DLTs emerge as an opportunity to counter it via experimentation, with changes in not only technical, but also governance and economic models. There is an aspiration that vast adoption of DLTs will lead to bottom-up empowerment, through more transparent and open networks, better command over data, or transference of resources to communities.
  • But looking into diversity, various stances exist between ambitions to achieve radical complete transformations, and improvement or reform of the network structures. This is observed from large scope projects, wanting to create a novel decentralized internet with a wide set of applications, to more targeted projects, aiming to boost social resilience by combining existing local operations with DLTs.

To explore the 131 European DLT projects for social and public good in more detail, go to #DLT4Good Scanning tool in the Knowledge4Policy Platform of the European Commission. Here you can do a focused search through the projects by selecting country, sector, or application of interest.

For recommendations to decision-makers on how to move this field forward, see Part Three of the report, with position papers by high-level experts in this field and advisors of the #DLT4Good project. Topics addressed range from the prospects of DLTs for decentralized governance to their potential role in strong collaborative economies. Several discussions are also set on current and future intersections of DLTs with issues of trust, verifiability, transparency, privacy or coordination.

To learn more or contact us about #DLT4Good project, you can visit its wepbage here in the blog of the EU Policy Lab.

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