3.3.2 Technology Transfer as a "Positive Measure" in Multilateral
The literature on global participation in Multilateral Environmental Agreements
(MEAs) has increasingly emphasised the need to balance measures of enforcement
with those of facilitation. Weak capacity can itself impede effective participation
by developing countries in MEAs (including difficulties with the adoption and
effective implementation of some kinds of commitments) There are a wide variety
of instruments available for both enforcement and facilitation. The term "positive
measures" is increasingly used for non-trade measures that facilitate participation
in MEAs (UNCTAD, 1997b).
Osakwe (1998) presents a categorisation of such measures (Table
3.1) in which technology transfer is first on the list of such positive
measures. He summarises the results of several years of work in the WTO Trade
and Environment Committee, at UNCTAD, and elsewhere, illustrating the role of
technology transfer while cautioning against simplistic treatment of "positive
Positive measures tend to be considered as second order supplementary measures,
offered as compromises only to weaker countries and firms lacking in capacity.
Although developing countries may, on balance, need these non-restrictive measures
more, this reasoning is incomplete. Positive measures are also required by developed
countries and firms.
UNCTAD has proposed an agenda for positive measures and offers suggestions
for implementing positive measures. UNCTAD also highlights three difficulties
that hinder the implementation of positive measures. First, compared to trade
measures, there are no implications which arise from the abandonment of commitments
to positive measures [for the country abandoning them]. Second, the viewpoint
expressed at several Conferences of Parties is restated: that exclusive rights
granted under Intellectual Property Rights regimes could increase the cost of
acquiring technologies authorized by MEAs. Third, apart from provisions for
financial mechanisms in some MEAs, there are no explicit references to mechanisms
for technology transfer, for instance, through the purchase of equipment, licensing,
foreign investment, application of scientific research results in the public
Balanced views should always be presented. For example, rebating energy taxes
on weaker industries have produced unintended effects of increasing pollution
levels . Also, long grace periods for adjustment by developing countries and
weak producers have downsides. They could lead to high dependence, high phase-out
costs for the developing countries, and the likelihood of the migration of environmentally
harmful industries in the application of positive measures the "guilty"
- polluters - should never be rewarded, weak capacities notwithstanding.
|Table 3.1 The interaction of trade
and positive measures: an indicative typology (Source: Osakwe (1998)
||Bans / prohibitions
Taxes / charges
Mandatory labelling schemes
||Import / export permits
Prior informed consent procedures
Tradable emission permits
|Transfer of environmentally friendly technologies
Joint implementation of projects
Funding incremental costs
Elimination of environmentally harmful subsidies
"Green non-actionable subsidies"
Grace periods within which to satisfy MEA commitments
Market access and "green market access"
Technical assistance for capacity-building
During the 1990s financial mechanisms in MEAs have become more widespread.
The Global Environment Facility, obviously, has become a central actor for climate
change and other agreements. Other specific experience of technology transfer
and other positive measures in MEAs is limited to date, but growing.
Two major examples of MEAs, in addition to the UNFCCC, with strong components
relating to technology transfer are the Montreal Protocol and the Convention
on Biological Diversity.