With the rising public awareness of poor social and environmental production conditions in many global value chains (GVCs), the pressure for more transparency and traceability is growing. Applications of distributed ledgers (DL) technologies such as blockchains are seen as a key solution in this context. These technologies enable the collection, recording and sharing of the information about physical transactions and related metadata in a tamperresistant way, without the control of a central actor. This briefing paper presents the basic concepts behind the DL and blockchain technologies and discusses the opportunities and limits of these applications in the context of GVCs. The challenges are due more to power asymmetries in the value chains than to technical issues. Thus, most DL applications could only be tools to bring existing sustainable conditions in GVCs to the fore as long as chain governance and the lack of legal frameworks remain as the main obstacles to extending sustainability in GVCs.
Global Value Chains Governance Sustainability Commodities Blockchain Distributed Ledgers