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The Blockchain for Social Impact team of ConsenSys won a UN contest that sought solutions to tackle child trafficking in Moldova using blockchain technology.

This approach represents an opportunity to make progress on SDG target 16.9 on providing a legal identity for everyone by 2030.

15 March 2018: The UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the UN Department of Management’s Office of Information and Communications Technology (UN-OICT) announced the winner of a challenge to use blockchain technology to tackle child trafficking in Moldova. Child trafficking is “one of the worst examples of a crime against humanity,” said UNOPS representative Yoshiyuki Yamamoto.

Blockchain technology represents one approach to make progress on SDG target 16.9, which aims to provide legal identity to all, including birth registration, by 2030.

According to the UN, Moldova has been working to tackle child trafficking for decades, and children’s lack of personal identification can exacerbate their vulnerability. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that approximately 230 million children under the age of five have not had their births recorded, placing them at risk for trafficking. Moldova has started exploring innovative solutions to address these challenges, such as the use of blockchain technology. Such technology represents one approach to make progress on SDG target 16.9, which aims to provide legal identity to all, including birth registration, by 2030. This SDG target is the first to recognize the importance of providing everyone in the world with an official identity. SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) also recognizes the power of technology to accelerate the SDGs.

The Blockchain for Social Impact team of ConsenSys won the Challenge for developing a platform to create blockchain-based identity systems that make it impossible for unauthorized users to manipulate system data. ConsenSys CEO Joseph Lubin explained the company’s initiative can “alleviate the systemic causes of human trafficking, making it virtually impossible for data on the system to be improperly manipulated.” Lubin stressed that collaboration among agencies and stakeholders will be critical in deploying blockchain solutions to tackle child trafficking.

Yamamoto stressed the potential impact of the Blockchain for Humanity Global Challenge, noting that the international community is seeking ways for “leveraging blockchain technology for the social good,” and highlighted its potential to address child trafficking. UNOPS and UN-OICT partnered with the World Identity Network on the Challenge. The Network produced a report on the Challenge titled, ‘Turning Invisible Children into Invincible Ones.’ The report shares lessons learned from the Challenge and presents the solutions submitted.

Also on technology and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Achim Steiner highlighted the role of technology in achieving the SDGs, including SDG target 16.9. Steiner stressed the importance of proper and secure identification as “a precondition for people to be citizens in their countries” and exercise their political rights, including the right to vote. Observing that nearly one in six people globally, more than one-third of them children under 18, are not registered as citizens, Steiner urged technological efforts to ensure identification of these people to enable them to access to public services, including education and health care. [UN Press Release] [Challenge Website] [Turning Invisible Children into Invincible Ones] [UNDP Administrator Statement]

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