Blockchain-Driven Sustainability Platform Unveiled by U.N. Agency

GENEVA Fifty-six countries, including the U.S., have endorsed a sustainability standard that provides traceability and transparency solutions for tracking any garment or item of footwear, from raw components to point of purchase, a United Nations agency said Thursday.

Over 250 experts — including from brands such as Vivienne Westwood — helped craft the recommendations and guidelines that established the standard, which is a free open-source Ethereum blockchain system that allows for the running of smart contracts and use of DNA markers, said the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe, the 56-member state and Geneva-based agency, which includes the U.S.

The blockchain toolkit, it said, is designed to guarantee data confidentiality in compliance with applicable regulations and added that armed with such information “consumers, regulators and companies themselves can check claims around sustainability and ethical production.”

The UNECE, which also sets global technical regulations for the automotive sector, noted the blockchain platform “can now be adopted and applied by any company or producer along its value chain from field to shelf to achieve traceability with the confidence that the system is operable, even by local-level producers equipped only with a smartphone to record their blockchain data.”

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The standard was tested on a blockchain pilot application for cotton in 2020, and earlier this year for leather, the UNECE said, “to test for identification and coding of key data at critical data points in the supply chain, to create an interlinked and immutable record of provenance and composition.”

The endorsement, UNECE said, also marks the launch of a “sustainability pledge” for governments and stakeholders in the sector to promise to apply the toolkit of measures and take a “positive step” toward improving the environmental and ethical credentials of the sector.

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