Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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15.5.4 Barriers to In-Country Technology Transfer

Government policies help to define and shape markets for coastal-adaptation technologies, but regulatory frameworks often lack incentives for innovative technology application and may include disincentives to the development and adoption of new technologies (NSTC, 1995). For example, certain regulations may prescribe the use of specific technologies, while approval of new, more efficient or effective technologies must go through lengthy legal processes. In addition, relevant government agencies may be fragmented, which impedes decision-making on all aspects of technology transfer (Chapter 4 and 5 provide an extensive treatment of barriers that impede technology transfer).

Effective technology transfer depends on the ability of the technology supplier to deliver the desired technology and on the capabilities of the technology recipient to employ it. Scientists in government and university laboratories may be too removed from the marketplace to facilitate rapid application of their technology innovations. Stockdale (1996) attributed the lack of participation of the private sector in partnerships with national laboratories to the lack of a "road-map" for locating the appropriate laboratory to cooperate. When collaboration with private industry occurs, conflicts may arise between the desire of government and university-based scientists to conduct independent, open research and the needs of industry to keep new knowledge proprietary in order to benefit financially. The lack of collaboration within and between stakeholders significantly impedes the deployment of coastal-adaptation technologies.

There is an acute shortage of adequate and accurate information on the impacts of climate change on coastal systems and on adaptation possibilities. This information is required to underpin public and private spending on coastal-adaptation technologies. Availability of data does not automatically result in increased information use for decision-making. Coastal and climate information often involves huge sets of unprocessed data. Unless a bridging organisation exists to "translate" data into usable information products-such as GIS analyses or assessments-and present it to the user community (e.g., via training programmes), these data sets go unused. For example, the UNEP Infoterra programme in the Caribbean provides large amounts of environmental data to national focal points via the Internet. However, few of these data are used in environmental management or local development planning, partly because the focal points have neither the tools nor training to convert the data into forms required to support the decision process (Potter, 1995).

Furthermore, as the means for developing information become more sophisticated, the transfer process is delayed by a lack of technology-verification to inform public officials of technology performance and by a lack of training to maintain a workforce technically skilled in application of the new technologies. Conveying information to the public can be problematic, because of limited reception of messages that are not readily related to immediate concerns.

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