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Blockchain for Urban Development – Guidance for Urban Managers

The paper discusses blockchain’s unique features in relation to urban development and explores potential applications of blockchain in addressing challenges related to sustainable urbanization as well as the risks and challenges associated with its implementation. The paper targets city leaders, managers and policymakers who may be interested in adopting blockchain technologies in the provision of services, as well as other stakeholders such as the private sector, donors, civil society, and UN agencies. The main objective of the paper is to critically discuss the potential of, and concerns about blockchain through an urban looking glass. It aims to expand discussion on potential applications of blockchain to include sustainable urban development. A key argument of the paper is that, like many technologies, blockchain itself is not a panacea for addressing sustainability challenges in urban areas and must be adopted whilst integrating human-centered approaches and robust business processes. It must also consider adequacy of capacity including financial resources, human resources, local culture, infrastructure, and governance systems, while minimizing exacerbation of inequality in access and benefits. The paper includes a set of recommendations and a checklist to guide urban managers in cities seeking to adopt blockchain.