Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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3.3.3 The Montreal Protocol

The Montreal Protocol (MP) on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is one of the more successful amongst international treaties related to global environmental problems (see also Section 5.5.7 in Chapter 5). It provides a good example of an international agreement that has been continuously amended in response to new scientific and technical assessments.

Signed by only 24 (mostly developed) countries in 1987, it has grown to almost global participation, thanks to a judicious combination of trade measures, with positive measures of financial and technology transfer provisions (Vossenaar and Jha, 1998). The overall commitments acquired by the international community to phase out ozone depleting substances (ODS) sent a "strong signal" to governments and enterprises to take actions to lower production and consumption of these chemicals and to search for adequate substitutes.

Furthermore, the initial reduction schedules were agreed to before adequate substitutes were in the marketplace. Therefore, the MP could be seen as speeding up the technological innovation and as a competitive process among leading enterprises. In this regard, the MP has created a broad range of business opportunities all around the world, and helped many developing countries create political and economic conditions that are more favourable to technology transfer.

However, the large scale of illegal trade in controlled chemicals to the US and the EU is an issue that threatens the Montreal Protocol achievements to protect the ozone layer (Environmental Investigation Agency, 1998). A number of authors have called for stronger intelligence and enforcement measures to prevent and eliminate smuggling of these substances.

The Multilateral Fund
The treaty established a Multilateral Fund (1998) to assist developing countries to comply with its commitments. Notwithstanding the fact that there are few formal technology transfer agreements under MP operations (as outlined in Chapter 2, the Fund has been a key factor that has facilitated technology transfer to developing countries.

The Fund operates under the authority of the Parties that appointed an Executive Committee (ExCom) that has to "develop and monitor the implementation of specific operational policies, guidelines and administrative arrangements, including the disbursement of resources, for the purpose of achieving the objectives of the Multilateral Fund (1998)". ExCom has 14 members divided equally between developed and developing countries, with annual renewal. The way that the ExCom works has allowed a wide participation of developing countries on an equitable basis, encouraging adoption of balanced decisions on many controversial and difficult issues. The practical operation and disbursement of the Fund to date has been summarised in Chapter 2 (Box 2.1).

The activities approved by the ExCom have helped developing countries in areas which can be called "hard technology transfer", carried out mainly by the World Bank, UNDP and UNIDO, and "soft technology transfer", directed mainly by UNEP. UNEP's activities provide various types of support including information exchange, networking, institutional strengthening, capacity-building and training (Shende & Gorman, 1997). The World Bank, UNDP and UNIDO have focussed mainly on investment projects and country programme assistance. The implementing agencies have assisted developing countries in identifying projects, assessing national plans and policies, providing adequate technical support, and assistance for project development and implementation. At the same time the implementing agencies played a crucial role in assisting the members of the ExCom of the Multilateral Fund (1998) in solving difficult issues, through policy and technical papers.

In addition, the Multilateral Fund (1998) has funded and mandated UNEP to facilitate networks of National Ozone Units (NOUs), which enhance governments' abilities to manage ODS issues, and facilitate cooperative work among the implementing agencies, countries, technology suppliers and potential project proponents. Currently, there are eight regional networks consisting of 90 NOUs which meet regularly in their own region. Regional networking provides government ODS officers with a means of sharing their knowledge with their peers in developing and developed countries. Such networking has helped the countries to set up enabling environment and policy settings for favourable technology transfer. Furthermore, the establishment of NOUs responsible for implementing the Montreal Protocol activities at country level have proved to be of critical importance to develop and promote the necessary changes to phase out ODS in developing countries.

A study requested by the Parties to evaluate the effectiveness of the Multilateral Fund (1998) indicates that the use of workshops as a primary mechanism to identify projects, even before a national plan is set-up and the decision to give priority to projects with high cost effectiveness, has favoured larger enterprises in developing countries (COWI, 1995). The facts that large conversion projects are becoming scarce and small, and medium size enterprises (SMEs) absorb most of the labour force in developing countries have made SMEs one of the main issues of the MP discussion, due to the fear that SMEs could become primary consumers of ODS in the medium term.

The problem of cost effectiveness
The main objective of the MP was to phase out as much ODS as possible in a minimum time frame. The cost effectiveness index reveals both the incremental costs (operating and capital costs) covered by the Fund versus equivalent tons of ODS phased out, and does not constitute a measurement of the full costs to developing country societies of avoiding the use of ODS. Therefore, the costs of eliminating ODS are borne jointly by the Fund, the enterprises and consumers (COWI, 1995). It should be recognised that developing countries are not merely receiving the funds to eliminate ODS. They are active partners by contributing their own financial and technical resources to meet the overall responsibilities.

Meanwhile, the role and application of cost-effectiveness thresholds continue to evolve as the Executive Committee takes decisions on new concepts of investment projects to better assist SMEs.

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