Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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4.4.4 What is participation and why is it needed?

Participation is a process of complex social change (OECD, 1997). Definitions of participation have thus been developing along with the practice of it. Different dimensions and levels, degrees or types of participation can be analytically distinguished (Rudquist, 1987, in OECD, 1997). The terms are used differently depending as to where in the project cycle participation occurs (planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, takeover), as to the quality, intensity or extent of participation (as passive beneficiaries, informants, cost sharers, or as colleagues or counterparts with a voice in management, decision-making and control) and to societal levels (local, regional, national) (OECD, 1997). Current 'inclusive' approaches have several stages if they relate to all stages of a project cycle. Basically, participatory development stands upon a partnership that is built upon the basis of a dialogue among the various stakeholders. These stakeholders collaboratively:

  1. conduct the analysis and diagnosis at the outset;
  2. decide what is needed and set objectives;
  3. decide directions, priorities and institutional responsibilities to create a strategy, and
  4. oversee development of specifications, budgets and technologies to move from the present into the future, and formulate project tactics (World Bank, 1996; OECD, 1997).

Participation of the main stakeholders in the assessment stages can help establish a process that will produce a technology selection better matched to local needs:

  • The current processes of technology selection often work against involvement and consultation of local communities. Social anthropological enquiry has long stressed the diversity and multiplicity of knowledge particularly related to the exploration of 'emics', i.e. indigenous concepts and categories, as opposed to 'etics', outsiders perspectives on how things are. This focus has become central to technological development, as it is important to comprehend how people themselves understand whatever technical issues are targeted for assistance (Fairbanks, 1992).
  • Climate change-related problems may be perceived and defined differently by different social actors (Gupta, 1997). Solutions to these problems, including technology transfer efforts, should therefore be in keeping with community perceptions of local problems and should draw on local knowledge. There can be no universally applicable solutions. This approach is consistent with the viewpoint that there is a need for 'public interest science' and makes it "a factor located within environmental conflicts'. (Shiva and Bandyopadhyay, 1986, p. 87; cf. Grove-White et al., 1992). Where problems involve high stakes, and are based on scientific uncertainty, as local climate change impacts undoubtedly are, and to which local responses are necessary, research into stakeholder perspectives is advocated in order to determine the most appropriate approach (Functovicz et. al., 1996).
  • There are many technical options to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) at a reasonable economic cost. No single technology, nor small set of technical options, offers a "solution" to solving the climate change "problem" (Lashof and Tirpak, 1990). Because options available are so many and straddle so many different sectors of the economy, generalisations about how technologies are selected are difficult to make. The selection criteria for the technology depend upon, inter alia, the end product or service, the natural resources available at a site, the sources of financing and, of course, the cost of the technology for a particular application at a particular location. One generalisation appears to be safe-technology choices are value-laden rather than neutral (Madu and Jacob, 1989; Reddy, 1976).
  • The source of financing has a bearing on the selection of a technology. Governments in developing countries shift budgetary allocations based on what is available from bilateral and multilateral sources. As discussed below, donors are biased in favour of companies based in their own countries. This could tend to favour certain technologies, sometimes even ESTs such as wind turbines. Also, multilateral assistance agencies prefer technologies that have a proven commercial track record. Their procurement policies often preclude support for the acquisition of the most advanced technologies.

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