Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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12.3 Current and Emerging Pathways in Technology Transfer

12.3.1 Current Pathways

Global experience in technology generation and transfer in the forestry sector is limited, compared to the agricultural and energy sectors. The pathways are complex and country-specific. The three major pathways are: government, private sector, and community-initiated. The existing institutions involved in technology transfer along with barriers to large-scale technology transfer are listed in Table 12.2.

Government Initiated. One of the features of technology transfer in the forestry sector is the non-commercial nature of the transfer of some technologies as well as low levels of involvement of commercial institutions. Furthermore, the forests, forestry research and extension services are largely controlled by the governments, particularly in tropical countries. Currently technology transfer is largely from the government-controlled universities and research institutions to forest departments and farmers. Forestry research and development is largely restricted to university and research institutions. These are largely funded by the national governments and external development assistance agencies. Yet these developing country research institutions are inadequately funded. Nevertheless, in Annex I countries, significant research and development (R&D) and technology transfer occurs in the private sector.

An analysis of forest research institutions and universities throughout the world and their staffing levels clearly shows that very few developing countries have capacity in forest science (in terms of numbers of institutes, staff or budgets). The effectiveness of the few scientists working on forestry issues in developing countries is frequently constrained by shortages of equipment and operating budgets, by limited access to scientific advances elsewhere and by local institutional issues (FAO, 1997). There are several international institutions involved in technology (including information) generation, dissemination and capacity building. Some examples are the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), "Centro Agronómico Tropical para Investigación y Enseñanza"(Tropical Agriculture Centre for Research and Education) (CATIE), Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), (IUFRO), International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), (IFGRI) and World Conservation and Monitoring Centre (WCMC). A new global framework might, for example, build upon the extensive coverage of IUFRO, the inter-disciplinary and collaborative mechanisms of CIFOR, and the practical field presence and global data sources of the FAO.

Currently, almost all of the investment projects funded by multilateral agencies (World Bank, 1993) and bilateral agencies contain a technical assistance component. When the World Bank, the largest multilateral funding agency is considered, only US$5.4 billion out of US$396 billion was allocated for environmental projects, where forestry is only one of the components and, furthermore, only a marginal part of it was devoted to R&D (World Bank, 1997).

Private Sector Dominated. Private sector timber companies and industries (paper mills) are increasingly participating in R&D and technology transfer in the forestry sector. Technologies and machinery for recycling, harvesting, and processing are well developed and largely originate from industrialised countries. The private sector is likely to play a larger role in the future, even in developing countries (refer to Tables 12.2 and 12.3).

Community Initiated. A substantial part of technology transfer in the forestry sector within developing countries is driven by local communities and NGOs. This is particularly true for forest conservation practices, agroforestry systems, and systems for harvesting of non-timber and other subsistence products. Much of the transfer also takes place in the form of "software", i.e., training and capacity building. Local institutions, such as NGOs and grassroots organisations, are increasingly participating in these technology transfer programmes. In some countries, such as Mexico, communities with commercial forest resources have organised nation wide organisations of social forestry enterprises. Through these organisations villages receive administrative and technical training and financial resources.

The existing institutions are currently playing a limited role compared to the demands. Currently, there is a marginal role for private sector or industry participation in technology transfer. Forest departments, research institutions and NGOs are even more constrained by limited financial support and technical capability. The existing institutional mechanisms have several limitations to promote climate mitigation technologies, namely, limited resources and absence of policies and institutions to process, evaluate and approve mitigation projects for implementation (Sathaye et al. 1999).

The existing institutions and arrangements are inadequate to meet the emerging challenges of promoting forestry-based mitigation projects. In tropical countries, the state forest departments play a predominant role in all aspects of forest protection, regeneration and management. There are uncertainties regarding the areas under tropical forests, rates of deforestation, causes of deforestation and the C-densities in vegetation and soil of different forest categories. Such information is crucial for developing strategies, projects and technologies to reduce deforestation. Currently, the lack of funding and technical capabilities in tropical countries limit the generation of information on all of the above aspects.

Table 12.2 Barriers to Technology Transfer in the forestry sector
Institutions and mechanisms Examples Features Barriers
Multilateral World Bank, ADB,GEF FAO, IPF, IFF, IUFRO, CIFOR,UNDP, Technical cooperation Commercial and non-commercial lending agencies
  • Currently limited role
  • Absence of local institutions to assimilate and adopt technologies in developing countries
  • Limited funding to forestry (World Bank, GEF)
  • Narrowly defined economic criteria
Bilateral Development assistance programmes of OECD countries
  • Aid agencies
  • Intergovernmental transfers
  • Project or location specific
  • Limited experience
  • Largely limited to reforestation and Protected Area formations
  • Influenced by donor's foreign policy objectives
  • Diversion by recipients to non-target programmes
Forest department
  • Wildlife divisions
  • Social Forestry Dept.
  • Extension service
  • National Forest Service (USFS)
  • Part of government bureaucracy
  • Multi-objective outlook
  • Inadequate research and extension capability
  • Inadequate funding
  • Focussed more on forest protection, afforestation, enforcing regulations
  • Often exclude local communities
  • Subject to political strings
Research institutions
  • International
  • FAO
  • National institutes
  • Universities
  • Industry or timber companies
  • Generate and assimilate technologies
  • Monitor forest area, status
  • Limited role due to inadequate funding or national policies or regulations
  • Industry research focussed only on certain commercial aspects of forestry
Industry/ private sector
  • Timber plantation companies
  • Industries (paper)
  • Weyerhauser, Georgia Pacific International Paper, Jaakko-Poyry, etc.
  • · Commercial transfer
  • · Profit motive
  • Focus limited to commercial aspects of forestry only
  • Inadequate foreign investment policies
  • Protection measures and economic embargoes
  • Large uncertainties
Joint ventures AIJ / USIJI
  • No C-crediting
  • Private utility in OECD and developing country agency
  • Many uncertainties on the mechanisms and C-abatement achieved
  • Absence of C-credits
  • International
  • WWF
  • Nature Conservancy
  • WRI
  • CARE
  • National and local NGOs
  • Community based organisations
  • Activist in origin
  • Main base in tech-source countries
  • Mostly not-for profit
  • Focus on technology inadequate, narrow focus on issues
  • Inadequate arrangements to protect the interests of forest dwellers and promotion of participatory management
  • Limited technical capacity
  • Little or no weight on economic efficiency
Community organisations
  • Grameen Bank funded organisations
  • Joint forest management committees
  • Grassroot affiliations
  • Organised on special interests e.g.: Women, artisans, etc.
  • Mostly loose structure
  • Funding and accountability usually weak.
  • No legal status, inadequate powers.

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