How Blockchain Can Shape Sustainable Global Value Chains: An Evidence, Verifiability, and Enforceability (EVE) Framework

Abstract: 

Law, regulation, and private standards have evolved to enhance sustainability in value chains. However, the volume of hard and soft laws has created complexity and fragmentation for consumers and firms. In addition, global value chains are increasingly disaggregated, making it difficult for consumers to enforce breaches of sustainability representations. Blockchain, as an immutable and digital record keeping system, is a tool that can deal with this growing complexity in global value chains. Documents verifying sustainability that were once in the private domain and stored in paper copy can now be made accessible in a secure and transparent blockchain platform. Despite a growing interest in the potential of blockchain to transform businesses, there are few concrete examples or scholarly literature showing how blockchain is operationalized in practice. Using a “conceptual framework analysis” approach, we develop an Evidence, Verifiability, and Enforceability (EVE) framework to illustrate how blockchain can enhance sustainability by providing information to consumers on the origin of products, assurances as to the veracity of the information, and a mechanism to enforce representations through the blockchain smart contract function. However, there need to be safeguards put in place for blockchain technology to meet its promise and we discuss some of these challenges.