Bitcoin in October 2020 skyrocketed from around $11,000 to over $62,000 in April 2021, before plummeting to under $32,000 two months later.

Most people – including government officials – struggle to understand the technology behind bitcoin (blockchain) and its potential impact on our lives. How should governments deal with this technology? And how could they harness its potential to advance national development priorities and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

According to, as of June 2021, there were over 5,000 cryptocurrencies totaling over $1.4 trillion of market capitalization. The top 10 DeFi tokens were worth $51 billion in market capitalization.

The UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) paid keen attention to the significance of blockchain in the real economy at its annual meeting in May 2021, looking at the areas of trade, logistics, and supply chains. Following discussions at the CSTD, UNCTAD recently published a report on how to harness blockchain for sustainable development.

Like any technology, blockchain can contribute to the SDGs in various ways – from providing food vouchers in refugee camps to enhancing property and land registries to improving access to national identification. So far, however, blockchain innovation has mostly focused on speculative gains in crypto-financial assets instead of creating real value through new products and services.


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