Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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13.5.2 Encouraging Technology Transfer

Many of the technology transfer approaches described in Section 13.4.2 can also be undertaken between countries. Some of the key approaches for consideration are described below.

Policy and Regulatory Development: Bilateral or multilateral regulatory or policy development assistance can be very useful to countries seeking to develop an appropriate framework for waste management. Donor government agencies of all levels can provide information about their domestic policies and regulations, enabling the host country to identify useful elements for its own situation. Regulatory training programmes can also be used to outline how to analyse, draft, implement, and enforce new regulatory or policy systems. Given the importance of the regulatory/policy framework for international private sector investment, private firms should be encouraged to participate in such bilateral activities. Private firms may also partner with domestic firms and work together to focus attention on key regulatory or policy issues.

When considering technology transfer between countries aimed at improving regulatory or policy frameworks, it is important to recognise differences between host and donor countries and to ensure that the proper solutions are developed. This may be particularly important in the waste management sector, where the social aspects of waste management and the different technologies that will likely be most sustainable can differ greatly between countries. This issue may be of particular concern between where North-South transfers are concerned.

Programmes to improve and develop regulations and policies for the waste management sector can reduce GHG emissions to the extent that they promote the full range of waste management alternatives (not just centralised landfilling). However, more directed activities to encourage the deployment of mitigation technologies can also be pursued. Possible examples could include cooperative activities to develop specific regulatory requirements for mitigation technologies, or consideration of how waste management technologies could be promoted under various articles of the Kyoto Protocol (such as the Clean Development Mechanism or emissions trading).

Innovative Financing Approaches: The private sector can participate in technology transfer in the waste management sector by serving as the developer of bilateral or multilateral funded projects or through direct investment. Traditionally, private sector participation has been through government driven activities, given the dominance of this pathway, the magnitude of conventional waste management investments, and the difficulty of investing directly in the waste management sector in many countries.

Private sector driven pathways for direct investment are emerging, however, and many countries are increasingly seeking private participation in waste projects. Section 13.4.2 discusses several ways that governments are seeking to involve private firms in waste management projects. International as well as domestic firms may find attractive opportunities. International companies will probably be most attracted to the larger, centralised projects that would typically be developed in medium to large cities. International companies will also be most attracted to countries with clear investment frameworks, both generally and in the waste management sector.

Technology transfer aimed at assisting government agencies, particularly at the municipal level, to privatise or otherwise encourage private participation may be useful. The World Bank and other multilateral agencies have emphasised private sector solutions to waste management challenges in recent years as a means of improving the scope and effectiveness of services (Serageldin, 1994). Especially in developing countries, however, the structure and function of the existing waste management system is likely to be very different from the norm in developed countries. If these differences are not recognised and addressed, attempts to emulate developed country models can fail. Thus, as countries develop approaches to encourage private financing of waste management services, they should consider specific local conditions and develop locally appropriate strategies (Ali, 1997).

Capacity Building: Many bilateral technical assistance and capacity building activities are already underway in the waste management sector. Technical experts in many national and local government agencies participate in bilateral activities designed to transfer information about available waste management technologies and techniques and enhance the capacity of host country experts to assess their options and identify those most suited to local conditions.

Given the magnitude of the needs in the waste management sector, current efforts are not adequate to increase the capacity to improve waste management in all areas. In addition, typical capacity building programmes involve developed countries providing training to developing countries and CEITs. Such programmes can be of limited usefulness if they are not customised to the particular needs of the recipient country, which potentially means that the donor country would need to promote approaches that are not widely used in their own country.

Section 13.4.2 discusses several types of technology transfer for capacity building within countries, and many of the same approaches can be used between countries. All types of training, as well as facilitating local assessments and information exchange can be undertaken between countries. Some areas of capacity building may be particularly appropriate for bilateral activities, including:

  • Training to facilitate public participation: In cases where national or local governments lack an understanding or tradition of public participation, bilateral capacity building activities may be very useful. Developed countries may be able to provide such training to developing countries or CEITs; in addition, sharing success stories between developing countries and CEITs could also be useful. Only when training is integrated into a more attractive process, are local people more likely to apply what they have learned in the trainingabout public participation.
  • Training in financial management: Another important area for bilateral government training is in the area of improved financial management. Such assistance may be especially useful if provided to municipal governments in developing countries and CEITs, whose role in waste management is increasing, but who have historically had less information and training in financial issues.
  • Training in alternative technologies: Training in alternative technologies, particularly those that are low technology, small scale and less capital intensive, can be useful. Since many developed countries do not use such technologies widely, CEITs and developing countries may find it useful to exchange such information between themselves, as well as to transfer information on their experiences to developed countries.
  • Training in formulating business plans: Developing countries often lack the capacity to formulate good project frameworks and business plans for urban waste management services. This turns out to be a substantial barrier to development of urban environmental services in developing countries and CEITs. Bilateral capacity building activities can be of great use in overcoming this obstacle in this regard.

Existing and future capacity building activities in the waste management area can be readily expanded to facilitate the transfer of mitigation technologies. Activities could include increased emphasis on the climate impacts of various technologies as part of basic technical assistance programmes, developing specific decision tools and information for assessing climate impacts, and working with government counterparts on how to encourage mitigation technologies using a menu of voluntary, regulatory and incentive-based programmes. Expanded involvement of local and regional government officials from both donor and host countries would be beneficial, given their role in project development and implementation. Given the still emerging understanding of these issues, technical assistance activities in all directions (North-North, North-South, South-North, and South-South) are likely to be useful.

Incentives: The Kyoto Protocol will likely provide important incentives for expanded activities between governments to develop mitigation projects. Provisions related to both the Clean Development Mechanism and emissions trading could encourage expanded bilateral investments in projects in exchange for emission reduction units. In the near-term, projects to reduce methane emissions from landfills and wastewater treatment facilities may be particularly attractive, given methane's potency as a greenhouse gas, the favourable economics of many such projects, and the ability to monitor methane capture (see also Section 3.4 and 3.6 in Chapter 3 on the Kyoto Protocol and technology transfer for further reference).

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