Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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5.1 Introduction

A variety of coastal systems produce a large number of goods and services that are valuable to society. This has attracted many people and major investments to coastal zones, even to places that are susceptible to hazards such as storm surges and coastal erosion. In many places, technology has been instrumental in reducing society's vulnerability to coastal hazards, in three basic ways:

  • Protect--reduce the risk of the event by decreasing its probability of occurrence;
  • Retreat--reduce the risk of the event by limiting its potential effects;
  • Accommodate--increase society's ability to cope with the effects of the event.

Extensive research has shown that climate change will increase the hazard potential for many coastal zones. The same three strategies of protect, retreat and accommodate can be followed to reduce vulnerability to climate change, including application of the same range of hard and soft technologies as are used today. However, many of the world's vulnerable coastal countries currently do not have access to appropriate adaptation technologies, nor to the knowledge or resources that are required to develop or implement these. Effective coastal adaptation by these countries could benefit from increasing current efforts of technology transfer.

This chapter uses the term "technology" in its broadest possible sense, including knowledge. A technology is considered appropriate when it is environmentally sound, economically viable and culturally and socially acceptable, amongst other criteria. The extent to which a technology meets these criteria differs from one location to another, suggesting that the appropriateness of a technology is not universal but-at least in part-determined by local factors. Technology transfer, as explained in Chapter 1, is the broad set of processes covering the exchange of knowledge, money and goods amongst different stakeholders that lead to the spreading of technology for adapting to or mitigating climate change.

Coastal adaptation to climate change must be seen as part of a broader coastal-management policy, which includes consideration of numerous non-climatic issues (Harvey et al., 1999). It typically follows a continuous and iterative cycle involving four main steps: (i) information development and awareness raising, (ii) planning and design, (iii) implementation and (iv) monitoring and evaluation (Klein et al., 1999). To date, technology transfer for coastal adaptation has focused primarily on the implementation stage: the actual hardware that can be employed to protect or, to a lesser extent, retreat or accommodate. As argued by Klein et al. (1999), coastal adaptation should also aim at increasing the extent to which mechanisms are in place and technologies, expertise and other resources are available to assist the other three steps.

Section 15.3 therefore identifies available technologies for each of the four steps of adaptation, with Section 15.4 assessing current and future trends in the transfer of these technologies. Sections 15.5 and 15.6 analyses important barriers and opportunities for coastal-technology transfer in light of economic, institutional, legal and socio-cultural aspects, within and between countries respectively. Section 15.7 summarises the lessons learnt and suggests future actions. First, however, Section 15.2 gives an overview of anticipated coastal impacts of climate change and concurrent non-climate stresses affecting coastal-adaptation needs.

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