Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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15.6.5 Enabling Policies, Programmes and Measures

Several critical factors, which may be part of pathways within countries to varying degrees, are suggested to be integral components of any international coastal-adaptation technology transfer (BCSD, 1992):

  • Technologies must be adjusted, oriented and made appropriate for local conditions in the host country. For example, the Japanese government designed and constructed a seawall to protect the shoreline fronting Nuku'alofa, the capital of Tonga, against erosion (Mimura and Pelesikoti, 1997). Despite the superior design and effectiveness of the structure, the project was not extended and duplicated because the host government had neither the funds, the physical capacity to produce the necessary raw materials nor the technological expertise to build another such seawall. Another example involves the copying of a Northern European harbour design, including a device to reduce ice pressure, which was installed in its entirety in a tropical country (UNFCCC, 1999).
  • Technology transfer must involve long-term partnerships and be linked to training and human-resource development. In the case of the first application of CoreLoc (Case Study 21), the researchers were not involved in planning and construction of the breakwater units. Results were more satisfactory in subsequent deployments when the researchers were able to work with local operators during project implementation. Furthermore, engaging local operators in the development of technology generates skills necessary to provide feedback required to continue the innovation process.
  • Institutional regional or global networks are powerful mechanisms for fostering all aspects of coastal-adaptation technology transfer, including assessment of needs, information exchange, training and technical assistance, capacity building and technology development. Examples are the above-mentioned GEF-funded projects (PICCAP and CPACC) as well as the training and outreach activities of the Coastal Resources Center of the University of Rhode Island (USA).

In addition, Kozmetsky (1990) and Heaton et al. (1994) have identified a number of mechanisms that would be particularly important in the development and implementation of science and technology policies to be responsive to global economic trends. All of these are applicable to enabling and accelerating coastal-adaptation technology transfer:

  • the creation of strategic alliances;
  • the development of innovative financial arrangements;
  • leveraging international standards on environmental management;
  • establishing technology "intermediaries".

The creation of new strategic alliances is a way to leverage scientific and technical talent, share financial resources and risks and extend access and delivery of new knowledge and technologies to other countries. These alliances may be intra- or intersectoral, but work best when participants share similar strategic goals, mutually understand and respect their respective cultures, and understand short- and long-term expectations. The PICCAP approach, for example, involves the appointment of a national coordinator and country teams in each of the ten participating countries. This strategy helps to ensure that technical support is provided in a socially and culturally sensitive manner, that project outputs are compatible with regional environmental and development strategies and priorities and that regional institutions are strengthened for future activities (Sem, 1998).

Development of innovative financial mechanisms may include linking ODA to foreign direct investment (BCSD, 1992), tax incentives for joint ventures in technology development and tax exemptions of income derived from technology transfer (Midlock, 1990). Chapter 5 presents a comprehensive overview of opportunities to overcome financial barriers to climate-related technology transfer.

Private-sector demand for adaptation technologies could be enhanced and refocused by international standards on coastal management. International standards allow companies to measure environmental performance, establish best practices across industries and establish a degree of accountability through certification, thus improving a company's worldwide competitive advantage (Heaton et al., 1994). For example, the ISO 14000 Series Standards Environmental Management System (EMS) provides a framework that responds to the short-term changes in coastal environments brought about by development pressures as well as the long-term changes resulting from natural forces. Adoption by countries could provide mechanisms necessary to integrate vulnerability assessment with existing coastal-adaptation practices.

As stated, NGOs can play an important part as intermediaries and knowledge translators in the technology-transfer process. As intermediaries, they can identify sources of currently available and emerging technologies, facilitate investment arrangements, and provide management, technical and other assistance to developing countries. As knowledge translators, NGOs can ensure that technology transfer is designed to create adaptive capabilities within the receiving country to adapt technology rather than simply to encourage its passive acceptance after transfer. NGOs can provide the foundation for the long-term relationship needed to replace casual or short-term connections between technology providers and users. Finally, they are particularly suited to link technology transfer to training and human-resource development and to public awareness raising.

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