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World Economic Forum Inaugurates Global Blockchain Council to Address Lack of Well-Defined Rules for Working with Blockchain

- Six councils formed to design how emerging technology can be governed for the benefit of society - Top decision-makers and experts from the public and private sectors, civil society and academia participate in inaugural Global Fourth Industrial Revolution Council meeting in San Francisco - Leaders of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Dana-Farber, European Commission, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Uber, World Bank among chairs - Major global summit on technology governance announced, to take place in April 2020

Impressions during the Session: The Big Picture on Peace and Conflict at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre during the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa, Jordan 2019. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Faruk Pinjo

To help policy-makers and businesses strike the right balance between enabling emerging technologies and proactively mitigating the social risks that can result, the World Economic Forum launched six Global Fourth Industrial Revolution Councils, including one for Blockchain.

The Forum will be launching the Global Blockchain Council – one of six global fourth industrial revolution councils developing policy guidance to address the lack of well-defined rules for working with blockchain. We call these lack of rules  “governance gaps”. One of the council’s missions is to identify and fill these gaps.

This will be the first international organization dedicated to figuring out how to govern this emerging technology and bringing together people from business, government, academia and NGOs. Members will be among the almost 200 people from over 27 countries meeting for the Inaugural meeting. Blockchain co-chairs: Elizabeth Rossiello from BitPesa and Denis Robitaille from the World Bank.

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Covering the most pressing technology areas of artificial intelligence, autonomous mobility, blockchain, drones, internet of things and precision medicine, global councils bring together more than 200 leaders from the public and private sectors, civil society and academia from around the world.

Council members will work together to develop policy guidance and address “governance gaps” or the absence of well-defined rules for emerging technology. They met for the first time today at Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco.

“Companies and governments are not moving fast enough to anticipate social expectations in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Richard Samans, Managing Director and Head of Policy and Institutional Impact, World Economic Forum. “We believe that that this bottom-up, societally-focused approach can help to build and maintain public trust in the technologies while strengthening the evidence base on which policy decisions are made by governments and companies. This is the first place where this kind of high-level, strategic dialogue on the governance of these technologies will take place across stakeholders and regions on an ongoing basis.”

Global Fourth Industrial Revolution Councils will:

  • Enable cross-country exchange of policy and regulatory experience, including through case studies;
  • Identify and take action to address gaps in public policy or corporate governance through multi-stakeholder cooperation;
  • Shape a common understanding of “best” or “good” policy practice as a means of enabling better policy coordination within and among countries;
  • Provide strategic guidance to the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network regarding the governance projects and pilots it undertakes.

Councils are organized by the World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Network expanded internationally last year to the People’s Republic of China, India and Japan. Affiliate centres in Colombia and the United Arab Emirates opened in early 2019. Five of the G7 countries and more than 100 organizations are officially partnered with the Network to create policy frameworks, pilot them and scale up around the world.

Global Technology Governance Summit

Input from council members will inform the agenda of the Global Technology Governance Summit in April 2020.  This event will be the world’s premiere leader-level, multistakeholder meeting dedicated to shaping the governance of emerging technologies. It will bring together government ministers, chief executive officers, civil society leaders, start-ups and international organizations. It will be a catalyst for driving new approaches and collaborative efforts across stakeholders that are human-centred.

Global Artificial Intelligence Council 

  • Lee Kai-Fu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Sinovation Ventures
  • Bradford Smith, President, Microsoft Corp

Global Autonomous and Urban Mobility Council 
Brian Gu Hong-Di, Vice-Chairman and President, Guangzhou Xiaopeng Motors Technology

Keiichi Ishii, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan 
Dara Khosrowshahi, Chief Executive Officer, Uber Technologies

Global Blockchain Council 

  • Elizabeth Rossiello, Chief Executive Officer, Founder, BitPesa
  • Denis Robitaille, Vice President, Information and Technology Solutions, World Bank

Global Drones and Aerial Mobility Council 

  • Violeta Bulc, Commissioner for Transport, European Commission

Global Internet of Things Council

  • Cristiano Amon, President, Qualcomm Incorporated
  • Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, European Commission

Adrian Lovett, President and Chief Executive Officer, World Wide Web Foundation 

Global Precision Medicine Council

  • Laurie Glimcher, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Peer Schatz, Chief Executive Officer, QIAGEN
  • Wang Chen, President, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences

The list of members will be made public during the Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, China.

The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network helped Rwanda write the world’s first agile drone regulation and is scaling it up throughout Africa and Asia. It has developed actionable governance frameworks for corporate executives on the blockchain, co-designed the first-ever Industrial IoT Safety and Security Protocol and created a personal data policy framework with the UAE.


p style=”font-weight: 400;”>More than 100 governments, companies, civil society, international organizations and experts are working together to design and pilot innovative approaches to the policy and governance of technology. Teams are creating human-centred and agile policies to be piloted by policy-makers and legislators around the world, shaping the future of emerging technology in ways that maximize the benefits and minimize the risks.

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