October 15, 2020

Cotton Blockchain

The objective of this pilot is to enhance the traceability and due diligence in the cotton value chain through the implementation of blockchain technology, to support a circular economy approach. Working with a range of key industry players, UNECE will develop a blockchain solution for sourcing sustainable cotton. ---- Improving transparency and traceability has become a priority for the garment and footwear industry to increase its ability to manage its value chains more effectively; identify, mitigate and address labour and human rights and sustainability impacts; combat counterfeits; and manage reputational risks. Today, many companies have a limited view of the network of business partners within their value chain. Most can identify and track their immediate (Tier 1) suppliers, but information is often lost about the suppliers of their suppliers – a UNECE study demonstrates that only around 30% of fashion companies implement tracking and tracing in their supply chain – and most of these reach Tier 1 only. Nonetheless, the implementation of traceability in supply chains is a complex issue because it requires the collaboration of all stakeholders and the deployment of shared, reliable technical solutions. The global fragmentation of production is a key feature of the fashion industry which is further complicated by the prevalence of subcontracting and informal work, especially in lower supplier tiers. As a result, it has been difficult to provide consumers with information about product provenance Advanced technologies (distributed ledgers such as blockchains, AI, machine learning, Internet of Things) can enable fashion industry actors to improve supply chain transparency across a variety of ecosystems by making available all information about product origin in a transparent and trustworthy manner by assigning a digital identity to the product. Cotton is a key sector for the textile and garment industry because it is the world’s most widely-used natural fiber, with an approximate yearly global production of 20 million metric tonnes. It is a vital industry and a critical source of economic growth which contributes to the livelihoods of more than 350 million people, mainly smallholder farmers in developing countries. Nonetheless, cotton production has substantial environmental and social impacts which are increasingly interconnected and trickle down to negatively impact cotton producers. Many companies have already engaged with global cotton sustainability programmes and have started to shift from the use of conventionally-grown to organically-farmed cotton. In this context, and in connection with the UNECE project for advancing transparency and traceability of sustainable value chains in the garment and footwear sector, a first pilot will focus on a blockchain solution in cotton value chains. The pilot will be implemented in collaboration with experts from brands, manufacturers, raw material providers, standard-setting bodies and technology providers. It will cover all the production steps of the value chain along with relevant business data and sustainability data elements identified in a mapping conducted by UNECE and UN/CEFACT experts, and a selection of certificates linked to specific hotspots of the cotton value chain (i.e. certificate of origin, certificate of organic cotton, and certificate of zero discharge and hazardous chemicals substances), to ensure the traceability of a product type (i.e: a shirt/a suit, TBC) and assess the pilot’s scalability to other textile fibers.

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February 17, 2022

Bike Ambulances to improve Emergency Obstetric Care in Rural Areas

Maternal mortality and morbidity rates remain high in Cote d’Ivoire. It is estimated that more than six women out of a thousand are dying while delivering birth, while 0.7% of the women of childbearing age have fistula in the country (MICS, 2016). While the strengthening of the health system is taking place, women in the country, especially in the rural area, stay vulnerable to the high risk of maternal death and morbidity. From behavioral perspectives, the barriers that leads to the three delays–(1) deciding to seek care; (2) identifying and reaching a medical facility; (3) receiving adequate and appropriate treatment may include the following (Cichowitz et al., 2018): Factors related to the first delay: social norms (community prefers to deliver at home), limited transportation and health care services at night, and negative experience in hospitals in the past (lack of trust). Factors related to the second delay of reaching a medical facility: a lack of available transportation, long travel times, and perception of high medical costs (walking 36.5%, car 34.6%, bus 13.5%, and motorcycle 13.5% in case of a study in Tanzania). In this context, this rapid prototyping initiative seeks to develop a new low-cost, safe transportation for women to prevent maternal mortality and morbidity in rural areas, by tackling the barriers that often lead to delay of emergency obstetric care (EmOC). It also aims to collect and utilize the GPS data/information of the bike ambulances to enable regional hospitals and the government to make better decisions in providing care, utilize hospital ambulances efficiently, and enhance communication between the care-seeker and care-provider.
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