Coca-Cola, the US State Department, and 2 other companies are working on a project to used blockchain to fight forced labour worldwide.
What Is Blockchain?
Blockchain is an incorruptible peer-to-peer network (a kind of ledger) that allows multiple parties to transfer value in a secure and transparent way. Blockchain’s Co-Founder Nic Carey describes Blockchain as being like “a big spreadsheet in the cloud that anyone can use, but no one can erase or modify”.
The International Labour Organisation estimates that there are nearly 25 million people working in forced-labour conditions worldwide, and 47% of them in the Asia-Pacific region.
The kind of work where there is known to be forced-labour varies, but many are engaged in work that contributes to products for food and beverage e.g. forced-labour in countries where sugarcane is produced.
A KnowTheChain (KTC), a partnership founded by U.S.-based Humanity United, showed that most food and beverage companies could be doing more solve the problem.
As part of a new partnership, Coca-Cola has now committed to conduct 28 country-level studies on child labour, forced-labour, and land rights for its sugar supply chains by 2020.
Blockchain’s validation and digital notary capabilities are being used in the new project to create a secure registry for workers and their contracts. The project, involving Trust Accelerator (BTA), a non-profit organization, the US State Department, Coca-Cola, and U.S.-based Humanity United, will use blockchain to create a validated chain of evidence that will encourage compliance with labour contracts.
US tech company The Bitfury Group, will build the blockchain platform, while Emercoin will provide blockchain services.
Blockchain Used To Reduce Child Labour Too
Earlier this month it was reported that blockchain is also being used in a pilot project between car-maker BMW and start-up Circulor with a view to eliminating battery minerals produced using child labour. In that project, blockchain is being used to help provide a way to prove that artisanal miners are not using child labour in their cobalt mining activities. Bags of cobalt are given a digital tag which can be entered into blockchain using a mobile phone. The details of the digital tag can then be entered by each link in the chain of buyers, thereby providing a clear, verifiable trail, all the way from miner to smelter.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
The new project involving Coca-Cola is another example of how blockchain is being used to ethically add value, genuinely reduce suffering and exploitation, and shows how this new technology can deliver social impact. One of the strengths central to blockchain is that it offers an incorruptible and transparent system that can provide a much greater, and more reliable level of proof that something has happened in the correct way in a value chain. Many different types of businesses can use blockchain to categorically prove a certain source and route for e.g. delivery, raw materials or production. This is proving to be particularly valuable to businesses where provenance is necessary to add to the monetary, ethical or other value of a product, service, and brand.