Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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1.1 The role of technology transfer in addressing climate change

Global economic growth is currently leading to increased consumption of raw materials, loss of natural habitats, energy use and production of waste. Achieving the ultimate objective of the UNFCCC, as formulated in Article 21 , will require technological innovation and the rapid and widespread transfer and implementation of technologies and know-how for mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. Transfer of technology for adaptation to climate change is also an important element of reducing vulnerability to climate change.

Technology transfer has successfully contributed to the solution of a variety of local and global environmental problems. Case studies included in the Report document this experience and provide valuable lessons for climate protection. These case studies include, to varying degrees, essential elements of successful technology transfer including consumer and business awareness, access to information, capacity building, investment financing, relaxation of trade barriers, and a strong regulatory framework.

This technological innovation must occur fast enough and continue over a period of time to allow greenhouse gas concentrations to stabilise and reduce vulnerability to climate change. Technology for mitigating and adapting to climate change should be environmentally sound technology and should support sustainable development. Sustainable development on a global scale will require radical technological and related changes in both developed and developing countries. Economic development is most rapid in developing countries, but it will not be sustainable if these countries simply follow the historic greenhouse gas emission trends of developed countries. Development with modern knowledge offers many opportunities to avoid past unsustainable practices and move more rapidly towards better technologies, techniques and associated institutions. The literature indicates that to achieve this, developing countries require assistance with developing human capacity (knowledge, techniques and management skills), developing appropriate institutions and networks, and with acquiring and adapting specific hardware. Technology transfer, in particular from developed to developing countries, must therefore operate on a broad front covering these software and hardware challenges, and ideally within a framework of helping to find new sustainable paths for economies as a whole.

There is, however, no simple definition of a "sustainable development agenda" for developing countries. Sustainable development is a context driven concept and each society may define it differently, based on Agenda 21. Technologies that may be suitable in each of such contexts may differ considerably. This makes it important to ensure that transferred technologies meet local needs and priorities, thus increasing the likelihood that they will be successful, and that there is an appropriate enabling environment for promoting Environmentally Sound Technologies (ESTs).

The Report analyses the special challenges of transferring ESTsto address climate change in the context of sustainable development. The literature provides ample evidence of the many problems in current processes of technology transfer which makes it very unlikely to meet this challenge without additional actions for the transfer of mitigation and adaptation technologies.

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