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OxChain One-Day Conference: Blockchain and the Global South

The OxChain project* held a one-day event in London on 22 May at the Coin Street Community Centre in Southwark.

Blockchain is a technology which allows distributed, secure and shared databases of transactions. It may open up the possibility of fundamental changes to our current use of fiat currencies as the primary method of value exchange, enabling new forms of social interaction, and different models of trust between people and institutions. These changes may radically reconfigure practices in international development finance and delivery, humanitarianism, resource governance, supply chains and other relationships between the Global North and the Global South. The conference explored the challenges and opportunities presented by blockchain to address global challenges within the field of international development. It brought together practitioners, designers and thinkers in blockchain and international development to explore the practical and political implications of this potentially radical technology in four panel sessions: Power, Transparency and Accountability in Blockchain for International Development; Peer-to-Peer Economies (A): Natural Resource Governance; Peer to Peer Economies (B): Supply Chains and Development and Crypto-philanthropy and Development: The Future of Giving? We also had three keynote speakers, Michel Bauwens of the Peer to Peer Foundation, Lord Christopher Holmes, author of Distributed Ledger Technologies for Public Good, and Ric Tighe, Oxfam ICT in-programme to tackle governance, theoretical, practical and ethical challenges. Speakers included academics from disciplines including geography, development and design (UK and international), and practitioners such as Oxfam UK, Australia and the Netherlands, the Overseas Development Institute and the Fairtrade Foundation. 

*Ox-Chain is a major research project between the Universities of Edinburgh, Northumbria and Lancaster, and research partners Oxfam, Zero Waste Scotland, Volunteer Scotland and WHALE Arts, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. 

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