Web3 and the Sustainable Development Goals
Most of you have heard about cryptocurrencies and the investment hype created, especially towards the end of 2020. Many people saw it as an excellent investment opportunity; even those previously uninterested or lacked basic tech awareness started investing heavily in crypto. With such a massive hype, scams also emerged, which made me, as a skeptic and non-early adopter, wait for stability and more information before taking a step into this field. However, the rise of NFTs caught my attention, and it was there that I first saw a functional use-case of blockchain technology, and it piqued my interest in how this technology can be used to solve real-life problems.
While at the moment of writing this article, it’s been less than three weeks since I started my internship at Linum Labs, which also indicates the time that I’ve begun “proper” blockchain upskilling, thanks to the adequate training of the fantastic team of Linum Labs who’ve been continuously supporting me, my interest from the beginning was to know how can we use this technology to solve problems or address urgent issues such as climate change or help those who are most vulnerable - which are some of the critical goals that require attention and are part of Sustainable Development Goals.
This article will cover: What is Web3 and why is it important - A summary of the concept of Web3 and its key features What are Sustainable Development Goals Web3 and SDGs The role of quadratic funding in Web3 and SDGs.
What is Web3, and why is it important?
Web3 includes various technologies such as cryptocurrencies, blockchain, smart contracts, Artificial Intelligence, dApps, wallets, DAOs, DeFi, tokens, machine learning and more. Some of its key features are:
Decentralization and data ownership
Web3 is designed as a decentralized technology, where power is not centralized in one entity but distributed across multiple computers participating in the blockchain network. In contrast to Web2, which operates on centralized servers that control our data, Web3 allows us to have control over our data. This data ownership empowers us to decide whether we want to share or sell our data, which can influence platforms to offer better services and value to users.
Digital custody and smart contracts
Web3 also introduces the concept of digital custody, where individuals have direct control over their assets without intermediaries like banks, enhancing security and reducing reliance on third-party institutions. Additionally, writing smart contracts on the blockchain is one of the most valuable assets of Web3. These self-executing contracts facilitate transparent and automated agreements between parties, eliminating the need for costly intermediaries and reducing the potential for disputes.
One of the most crucial parts of Web3 are tokens. Tokens are built on top of existing blockchains and have different use cases. Some tokens represent real estate in blockchain, some represent artworks (such as NFTs), and some represent the right to vote. The importance and value of these tokens lies in their real-life usability. One of the most important aspects is tokenizing real-world assets with real-world values, which is tightly related to what the future of Web3 is expected to look like.
The features of these technologies mentioned above are some of the main tools that have the potential to create solutions that could solve problems that are essential for a better, more decentralized society and a better quality of life for all.
What are Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, are 17 global goals established by the United Nations in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They aim to address crucial challenges and create a more sustainable and equitable future for all. These goals cover poverty, hunger, health, education, gender equality, clean water, sanitation, climate action, biodiversity, and more.
The SDGs recognize that technological advancements, particularly those offered by Web3, can play a crucial role in achieving these goals. As a passionate advocate for social impact, I have been promoting the SDGs, especially among the youth, through educational projects and awareness-raising initiatives. Now, I see a more direct opportunity to contribute by embracing the potential of Web3 technologies.
Web3 and SDGs
As I delved into Web3 and its potential impact on achieving the SDGs, I discovered numerous exciting projects and initiatives. Some of these projects include carbon stocking/credits and universal basic income (UBI) using smart tools/technologies such as smart contracts, tokens, and quadratic funding.
The GoodDollar Project
The GoodDollar project is an example of a Web3 initiative to create a more inclusive and sustainable economy. By leveraging blockchain technology, it aims to explore the concept of universal basic income (UBI). UBI is a social safety net that provides regular cash payments to every individual, regardless of economic status. By implementing this concept on the blockchain, the project seeks to reduce income inequality and promote financial inclusion, ultimately aligning with various SDGs, including poverty reduction and economic growth.
GoodDollar's approach recognizes that financial inclusion and wealth distribution are crucial to achieving the SDGs. By empowering individuals with direct access to funds, the project aims to enable people to meet their basic needs, invest in education, and participate more actively in economic activities, thus breaking the cycle of poverty.
The Klima DAO
Another notable Web3 project contributing to climate action is the Klima DAO. Klima DAO is a decentralized autonomous organization combating climate change by tokenizing carbon credits. By transforming carbon credits into tradable tokens on the blockchain, Klima DAO aims to create a marketplace for carbon offsetting. This initiative can significantly impact SDGs related to climate action, environmental sustainability, and responsible consumption and production.
The concept of tokenizing carbon credits on the blockchain has the potential to revolutionize the fight against climate change. Traditionally, carbon credits were confined to centralized systems, often difficult to access or prone to fraud. Using blockchain technology, Klima DAO ensures transparency and traceability in carbon offsetting. This opens up opportunities for individuals, businesses, and governments to participate actively in environmental preservation by offsetting their carbon footprint through verified and efficient mechanisms.
Web3 and Education
Education is another vital component of sustainable development, as it empowers individuals with knowledge and skills to create positive change. Web3 has the potential to revolutionize education by providing innovative learning platforms, global access to educational resources, and secure credentials through blockchain-based certification systems.
Web3-based educational platforms can facilitate peer-to-peer learning, where individuals from diverse backgrounds can connect, share knowledge, and collaborate on projects. This decentralized approach breaks down traditional barriers to education, making it more inclusive and accessible to learners worldwide. Moreover, blockchain-based certification systems can ensure the authenticity and permanence of educational achievements, enhancing the credibility and value of qualifications for both employers and learners.
Web3 and Health
Health is a fundamental aspect of sustainable development, and Web3 technologies have the potential to transform the healthcare landscape. Blockchain-based systems can improve data security and interoperability, enhancing patient privacy and facilitating the sharing of health information between healthcare providers. Moreover, decentralized healthcare platforms can empower individuals to have direct control over their medical data, allowing them to grant and revoke access as needed.
One of the examples that our team has worked on is Jonda by Jonda Health. Jonda wants to empower individuals to access, manage, and benefit from their own health-related data, including the right to assign these privileges to others, in a secure and easy way.
Web3-powered health initiatives can also streamline medical research and facilitate collaboration among researchers worldwide. Smart contracts can automate data-sharing agreements, ensuring researchers can access anonymized data while preserving patient confidentiality. This accelerated knowledge exchange can lead to more efficient medical breakthroughs, benefiting global health outcomes and contributing to SDGs focused on health and well-being.
The Role of Quadratic Funding in Web3 and SDGs
Quadratic funding is a mechanism where the impact of financial contributions is amplified based on the number of individual donors rather than the amount donated. This approach democratizes funding allocation and strengthens support for projects that align with SDGs. Through quadratic funding, small individual contributions can have a significant impact, promoting grassroots initiatives and innovative solutions to global challenges.
Quadratic funding aligns perfectly with the principles of decentralization and inclusivity that Web3 promotes. Empowering small donors and enabling them to have a say in funding allocation promotes transparency and reduces the influence of concentrated wealth. This drives greater community engagement and helps channel resources towards projects that directly contribute to achieving the SDGs, addressing the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized populations.
As of 2023, Web3 is still an evolving field, with new information and opportunities emerging daily. The potential of Web3 technologies extends beyond financial applications, encompassing climate action, education, health, and various other aspects of sustainable development.
By leveraging the decentralized and transparent nature of Web3, we can address global challenges in more inclusive and innovative ways, fostering a future where prosperity and progress are accessible to all.
As we continue to explore the opportunities of Web3, its transformative potential will contribute significantly to a more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous world for generations to come. If you know of any other projects that support the Sustainable Development Goals, we would love to hear about them. Additionally, if you have an idea that could benefit SDGs or society, let's chat. Our team's expertise in architecture and development and a solid problem-solving attitude make us the ideal partner for your solutions.