Although there is growing excitement (or hype) around the use of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DTLs) for creating meaningful industry change, questions remain on whether and how they can create value. Currently, the field is characterized by an “if you build it they will come” logic; faith that by applying blockchain technologies to identity management and other needs, it will have positive impact. To yield a more actionable understanding of whether and how blockchain and other DLTs can propel such changes, we need to move from a faith-based to an evidence-based approach. By providing new ways to securely identify individuals and organizations, and record transactions of various types in a distributed manner, blockchain technologies have been heralded as a new tool to address information asymmetries, establish trust and improve governance – especially around the extraction of oil, gas and other natural resources.
In order to take stock of the current practice and narratives surrounding the promise of blockchain in the extractives sector, The GovLab -- with support from the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NGRI) -- sought to explore blockchain’s potential impact on governance across the extractives decision chain, especially with respect to transparency and accountability objectives. The resultant report – The Practice and Promise of Blockchain Technologies for Extractives Governance – was developed through detailed desk research of current practice complemented with a comprehensive literature review.
In addition, a team of researchers based at the GovLab and NRGI staff members, conducted in-depth interviews with experts on the governance of extractives, blockchain technologies, and the nexus of the two. The desk research and interviews informed the design and facilitation of an Expert Meeting on Blockchain Technologies and the Governance of the Extractives Value Chain, organized by the GovLab and NRGI, and hosted at the OpenGov Hub in Washington, D.C on July 12th 2018.