15.6.3 The Role of Stakeholders
Currently, the international flow of coastal-adaptation technologies is mostly
government-driven. As in any technology transfer, governments create and sustain
the conditions for the successful development and delivery of coastal-adaptation
technologies. As the primary technology source, they must support continuous
and targeted innovation by means of investments in education, R&D and scholarly
and technical exchange programmes. Governments can take a proactive role in
technology transfer by encouraging collaborative relations of national laboratories
and universities with foreign-affiliated businesses, as well as the involvement
of foreign nationals in publicly supported research. Claims that these policies
result in the loss of knowledge assets paid for with public funds without fair
compensation are mostly unfounded. Instead, the driving force of coastal technology
transfer is often information sharing and, in an economic context, both parties
benefit only when new knowledge, rather than currency or goods, is exchanged
equally (Rollwagon, 1990).
For their part, universities must continue to invest and reward the conduct
of basic research, since this is the "seed corn" for innovation. However,
under the paradigm of international technology transfer they also have a responsibility
to present new knowledge in forms that can be readily utilised by diverse audiences
and to provide technical assistance. Since these activities do not generally
lead to peer-reviewed publications, universities may wish to restructure reward
systems to meet this new global social contract. Moreover, interdisciplinary
approaches to understand systems rather than processes may benefit coastal adaptation
and related technology transfer.
Although the companies that make up the coastal-technology sector generally
have limited resources, many of the service providers in this sector can adopt
practices that call for active participation and training of host-country users
and joint project management. This leads to long-term relationships and potentially
new business opportunities.
NGOs play a vital part in international technology transfer. They often serve
as "knowledge translators" to bridge the gap between technology acceptance
and application, and create and promote adaptive capabilities within the receiving
country to sustain technology operation and maintenance, as well as enable repetition
(Box 15.4; see also Section 4.4 on the role of NGOs in
|Box 15.4 The role of NGOs
| Non-governmental organisations can be used to promote new coastal-adaptation
technologies, because they typically have close links to communities and
individuals with a direct interest in the coast. NGO activities in the coastal
zone are very diverse and range from environmental education, consultation,
lobbying and campaigning to research into alternative coastal-management
strategies (De Waal, 1994).
Much of the coastal-adaptation technology transfer can be developed at the
grassroots level, based on the needs as identified by communities and individuals.
The advantage of NGOs is their ability to reach into isolated communities,
which often have little or no experience in communicating problems and concerns
to government representatives, to manage the important community-development
components of technology transfer. NGOs may have their headquarters in metropolitan
countries as well as country field offices to facilitate grassroots networks.
These country field offices can facilitate country-specific bilateral and
non-government funding and technical assistance. On the other hand, regional
programmes also allow for cost-effective provision of technical assistance,
training and management of project funds.
The commonality of NGOs can be seen in terms of their wishing to retain
maximum involvement of individuals in projects even when those projects
involve institutional development for government. This approach is ideal
for testing and introducing a range of adaptation technologies, especially
simple ones, on a cost-effective basis. Cross-training and sharing of experiences,
successes and lessons learnt between projects are essential features of
the way NGOs operate. Quality control may also be enhanced for project monitoring
and implementation by sharing tools and expertise. The success of this approach
can be attributed to, amongst other things, the integration of individual
needs with government programmes and cultural sensitivity.
More visible and controversial technology-transfer initiatives could engage
NGOs (UNEP, 1996), but only where there is a high degree of mutual trust
and two-way learning, not merely the transfer of money (Earle, 1997). Experience
and case studies (cf. De Waal, 1994) show that of the various reactionary
strategies available to NGOs, extensive public awareness and education campaigns,
dialogue with all interest groups and extensive media attention are amongst
the most effective.
NGOs may or may not have core-funding or an endowment source of funds to
finance their operations. However, NGOs are often in a unique position to
harness foreign funds for assistance and in administering development projects.
Some NGO projects are implemented independently, other ones in cooperation
with other NGOs, national institutions, government or grassroots organisations.
The UK-based NGO Oxfam provides a good example of technology transfer relying
on generating synergies. Oxfam supports grassroots communities in coastal-management
activities such as replanting mangroves and developing artificial reefs,
while concurrently assisting national fishery organisations that provide
support to those communities. Links are encouraged between the two organisations
and more specialised lobbying organisations in order to change national
legislation (Earle, 1997).