Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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13.4.2 Encouraging Technology Transfer

Many of the actions that promote technology transfer within a country should involve government agencies, private entities and local community organisations to be fully successful (see Chapter 4 on the role of enabling environments for technology transfer). In general, the government-driven pathway tends to dominate in this sector. National governments typically set standards and priorities for waste management through legislation or regulation. National governments also historically have provided funding for major investments, either from internal sources or by obtaining loans from multilateral development banks. However, all levels of government are involved in waste management and this pathway has increasingly expanded to include regional and municipal governments. Activities along the government-driven pathway are also expanding to include additional actors, especially the private sector and community groups.

In addition, private sector and community-driven pathways are playing more important roles in technology transfer within the waste sector. Private entities ranging from individual entrepreneurial garbage collectors to large domestic or multinational enterprises are participating in waste management operations (Mangal, 1996). While the private sector's participation in waste management projects is often in government-driven projects, private enterprises are developing independent projects as well. Similarly, community groups are beginning to develop projects outside of government pathways that support the provision of waste management services to local populations. These informal activities are more common in developing countries and CEITs, and hold significant promise for the expansion of waste management services in the future. As the importance of community involvement for successful waste management has become evident, moreover, community groups have become more important actors in the government and private sector pathways too.

The discussion that follows describes five broad types of actions to encourage technology transfer in the waste management sector, and particularly to ensure deployment of mitigation technologies. Many of these actions will be most frequently employed along the dominant government-driven pathway. However, depending upon the specific circumstances of countries, different pathways and actors may be involved.

Policy and Regulatory Development: A framework for waste management is essential to promote technology transfer in this sector. Activities involving policies and regulations are typically government driven, with various government agencies responsible for development and implementation. Most often, this framework is defined by the national government, with various implementation requirements borne by local government agencies (or in some cases, private companies) that operate the waste management system.

Extensive technology transfer activities are already underway within countries as governments strive to improve their policy and regulatory frameworks for waste management. Consideration of policy and regulatory issues can be beneficial in all countries. Challenges within regulatory and policy frameworks may be particularly acute in developing countries and CEITs, and even more so where government agencies and institutional frameworks may be weak. In particular, enforcement capabilities may be limited in many developing countries and CEITs. Thus, new regulatory frameworks frequently may need to be coupled with capacity building programmes aimed at facilitating the effective implementation of policies and regulations.

Based on past experience, the most successful frameworks will be those that were developed through the participation of many parties, especially those directly affected by changes in waste management practices and those directly responsible for maintaining the system. If regulatory and policy frameworks for waste management are impractical or unachievable, they will not work. Some of the most effective frameworks are those that develop integrated approaches toward waste management, encouraging a mix of waste management approaches (such as source reduction, recycling and appropriate disposal and treatment) that are specifically adapted to local conditions (Bartone, 1997). Careful attention to the needs and capabilities of those that will implement the policies and regulations is also crucial, in order to ensure that the new frameworks are practical.

The involvement of community groups is necessary if the continuing challenges of the waste management are to be addressed. Ultimately, the success of any waste management system will depend upon the acceptance and participation of local populations. Thus, a country's policy and regulatory framework will likely be most effective if it reflects the needs and priorities of local populations. While the importance of local support might seem most obvious in developing countries and CEITs where significant changes in waste disposal practices may be required, it is also important for developed countries (Serageldin, 1994).

The involvement of the private sector is also important. In most countries, the private sector has not traditionally played a major role in the design of regulatory or policy frameworks in the waste management sector. If enhanced private sector participation is desired, however, it is essential that appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks are put in place (ADB, 1996). Private sector feedback to government agencies can greatly improve the effectiveness of policies by identifying barriers constraining private investment. Lack of clarity in requirements, unclear procedures and timelines for obtaining permits or approvals, and overlapping jurisdictions are examples of barriers that can be addressed.

Emphasis on public-private exchanges on regulatory and policy issues can be beneficial in all countries. They may be particularly valuable in CEITs and developing countries, however, where the private sector may be weak, the judicial system less developed, and relations between the private sector and the government more tenuous. CEITs, especially, may confront special challenges due to the lack of a strong private sector and the suspicion government agencies frequently have for private companies. In developing countries, another challenge will likely be how to involve the variety of private entities (including micro-enterprises and informal groups of individuals) that play essential roles in the waste management sector.

Mitigation technologies can be encouraged in many ways through policies and regulations. First, governments can directly mandate certain approaches as a means of minimising GHG emissions or achieving other environmental benefits. In the United States, for example, methane emissions from landfills will be reduced by almost 50% by 2000 as a result of a regulatory action taken to reduce VOC emissions (USEPA, 1999b). Similarly, methane generation can be reduced through government policies or regulations for waste separation or recycling. To date, such policies have been motivated by the scarcity of suitable landfill capacity, and have had the secondary benefit of reducing GHG emissions. In 1992, for example, Australia adopted a National Waste Minimisation and Recycling Strategy, the goal of which was to reduce landfilled waste by 50 per cent between 1990 and 2000. Governments can also modify regulations in other sectors to reduce barriers to the use of mitigation technologies in the waste sector. In Japan, for example, the national government revised existing regulations in the power sector to create a market for energy from waste incineration plants. This action facilitated rapid expansion of waste incineration, which has contributed to lower overall GHG emissions.

Innovative Financing Approaches2
Waste management projects, especially large centralised landfills and wastewater treatment plants, can require large investments that traditionally have been provided by governments. This approach has limitations, however, particularly when financial requirements exceed a government's capabilities. Limited financing capacities are most severe in developing countries and CEITs, where local populations may lack adequate waste management services and existing infrastructure is deteriorating from lack of maintenance. Even in developed countries, however, the costs of maintaining and upgrading waste management systems can be high (Serageldin, 1994).

Both national and local governments are turning to the private sector in this era of financial shortages. Some governments are leasing concessions for solid waste management services, others are encouraging project finance using end-user fees to recoup investment costs, and still others are privatising waste disposal and sanitation services (World Bank, 1996). National governments may be able to assist municipalities in the development of innovative approaches for attracting private sector participation. Attracting private capital can be difficult, however, unless the relevant agencies have strong financial management and accounting practices, transparent procedures, competitive procurements, and reliable supervisory and monitoring capabilities (World Bank, 1996). Where financial management is a barrier, the national government may be able to assist municipalities in addressing financial weaknesses and attracting private investment.

The municipalities that have dealt most successfully with their increased role in waste management have tended to be those that emphasise locally appropriate waste management approaches with lower financial requirements. In Badong, Indonesia, for instance, a sustainable recycling project employing people who had previously scavenged at open dumps was developed as an alternative to the more conventional centralised landfill model. By creating a strong recycling industry, needs for an expensive landfill were reduced and a variety of secondary markets in recycled materials were created (ICLEI, 1997). Similarly, a recent project in Cairo, Egypt, focused on no- and low-cost measures for wastewater treatment including waste minimisation, and wastewater treatment facilities were installed only where necessary. In addition, this project emphasised local design and manufacturing of facilities to ensure sustainability (Myllyla, 1995).

If innovative financing approaches are in use for basic waste management services within a country, financing should be available for mitigation technologies. In many developed countries, mitigation technologies are frequently developed by the private sector, with limited direct involvement of government agencies. Examples include some recycling programmes and many projects that recover methane from landfills. Similar approaches may be replicable in developing countries and CEITs, particularly in middle-income cities with strong institutions. Moreover, successful technology transfers will likely increase emphasis on alternative waste management approaches, which are often very environmentally beneficial. It is likely that central governments will continue to underwrite some investments in the sector through grants, subsidies, and revenue sharing (World Bank, 1996). If appropriate, these government agencies could require that available mitigation approaches be employed as a condition of support.

Capacity Building: Efforts to improve the institutional capacity for waste management are critical. Many of these activities will be initiated by government agencies, but in many cases the target audience may include the private sector and community groups. Appropriate capacity building activities are varied, but could include:

  • Training: Training needs are likely to be extremely varied depending on national circumstances. For government staff, training aimed at improving management and administrative skills may be important, particularly where responsibility for waste management programmes is devolving from national agencies to lower levels of government. Technology transfer regarding waste management options, project finance, and regulatory development and enforcement are other examples of possible training needs. Local private companies may need management and technical training to assist them in establishing viable small enterprises that can implement locally based projects, many of which are very environmentally desirable. This type of training may be particularly valuable in CEITs and developing countries. It may also be desirable to train local community organisations and decision makers in both general waste management issues and those issues specific to the project under consideration. Such training can ensure that the community understands the project context, is committed to the project goals, and has the ability to maintain it.
  • Local Assessments: Cooperative assessment activities involving government agencies, the private sector, and community representatives should be undertaken to determine waste management priorities. Local representatives should participate in the assessment and prioritisation of waste management issues, so as to ensure that local needs and priorities are incorporated into project design and also obtain the support of local populations. In addition, these representatives can ensure that the cost of services is in line with the benefits to the population. The differences in cost between basic and full waste management services can be substantial, for example, and it is important to determine the level of service communities want and are willing to pay for before developing the system (Serageldin, 1994).
  • Information Exchanges: Where waste management systems are changing rapidly or new approaches are being piloted within a country, information exchange and discussion among a wide range of parties can be valuable. In addition to national or regional experts, the involvement of local municipal decision makers and administrative staff, NGOs, and community leaders can be important. Information exchange can occur through clearinghouses, peer networks, government outreach or education programmes, or other means, depending on the type of information being shared and the participants.

Capacity building activities are necessary for all types of waste management projects, including those that include mitigation technologies. Depending on the extent to which mitigation strategies encourage waste management approaches that are more innovative, use newer technologies, or involve more groups, however, expanded technical and institutional assistance may be needed.

Incentives: Incentives can encourage specific activities or technologies, and can be employed by government to catalyse development of mitigation technologies. Incentives can take many forms, including tax breaks, subsidies, preferential financing, or expedited regulatory approvals. Incentives can be designed to draw attention to desired project types, and to address barriers to project implementation. Many incentives affecting mitigation technologies have been implemented, although to date few have been explicitly motivated by the desire to reduce GHG emissions. In the U.S., for example, methane recovery projects at landfills have, at various times, been eligible for tax incentives provided by both Federal and state governments, as well as preferential financing and streamlined regulatory approvals (USEPA, 1997b). For the most part, these policies have been designed to promote renewable energy or to diversify energy supply, as opposed to explicitly intending to reduce methane emissions. Similarly, the national government of Japan has provided subsidies to local governments for construction of waste incineration plants (Tanaka and Ikeguchi, 1998). The policy, which was motivated by extremely limited landfill capacity in Japan, has resulted in construction of almost 2,000 incinerators.

Voluntary Programmes: Many of the activities described above can be incorporated into voluntary programmes,
which can be used to encourage wider participation in project development, to foster better coordination among agencies, or to encourage the consideration and implementation of desired technologies. Government agencies at all levels may undertake voluntary programmes, depending on the particular barriers to be addressed. Voluntary programmes promoting recycling, composting, and waste minimisation have also been implemented in many countries with much success. The U.S. EPA also uses a voluntary programme to promote methane recovery from landfills (USEPA, 1997b).

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