By means of their regulatory and decision-making apparatus, national governments
can stimulate the implementation of coastal-adaptation technologies by providing
incentives to lower levels of government, as demonstrated in the case of the application
of littoral cell-based management in England and Wales (Box
15.2). Thus, a government's operational responsibilities for coastal adaptation
make it a developer and customer of adaptation technologies at the same time.
As such, national governments need to balance investment in the development of
new technology with support for information infrastructure and education and training.
For example, governments can create mechanisms to bring together the fragmented
coastal-technology private sector and foster partnerships and alliances that improve
access to government-owned innovations, leverage talent and capital and share
risks. National governments of many small and/or developing countries have neither
the financial nor the human resources to facilitate development of technologies
for coastal adaptation. The dilemma posed consequently is that such countries
must depend either on other countries to produce appropriate technologies or upon
developed countries and international agencies to sponsor R&D.
In countries with several levels of government, governments below the national
level play a principal part in managing coastal resources and development. It
is at this level that most coastal-adaptation technologies are implemented.
Subnational governments do not account for a very large share of total investment
in R&D for coastal-adaptation technologies. However, with their business
and academic partners, they have knowledge of local and regional conditions
that national governments cannot equal (Carnegie Commission, 1992; Moser, 1998).
Subnational governments are most effective at timely communicating new ideas
and priorities to the public, and putting the public's needs forward in national
science and technology forums.
The traditional paradigm for science and technology innovation is that government
laboratories concentrate their R&D on mission-oriented projects, universities
confine themselves to basic research, and the private sector concentrates on
shorter-term, more profit-oriented developments (Kozmetsky, 1990). National
governments have the primary responsibility for creating conditions for successful
coastal-adaptation technology transfer (Capobianco, 1999). This role includes
nurturing and optimising a synergetic and symbiotic interrelationship between
stakeholders in industry, academia and government (Kuhn, 1990). Accessible technologies,
high-quality human resources, adequate physical infrastructure and a favourable
public-policy environment are especially important.
The function of universities in the national research system is the creation of
public knowledge. The primary role of academic research in coastal adaptation
is the development and testing of generic design methodologies and tools, and
the presentation of this emerging knowledge for effective exchange. When academic
research is applied to a specific problem-solving situation, it may serve as a
stimulus for new areas of research, resulting from reformulation of problems uncovered
in technological development or assessment (Box 15.2).
The research thus seeks a more in-depth understanding than required by the immediate
needs of the original problem, ideally giving rise to new questions of conceptual
importance (Brooks, 1993). Academic institutions also play a critical part in
the dissemination of knowledge to numerous audiences. Knowledge dissemination
serves to increase awareness amongst the public, and contributes to basic education
and training in technical and problem-solving skills that are needed for effective
As opposed to companies focusing on climate mitigation, only a few of the larger
coastal-technology companies are strongly involved in technology transfer (Stockdale,
1996). Where the manufacturing of hardware is involved, successful technology
transfer requires an industrial provider. Furthermore, government and university
laboratories generally do not have the mandate or resources for commercial-scale
testing of new innovations, so leveraging resources by means of public-private
sector partnerships are vital to widespread technology transfer and continuous
improvement. Organisations such as WL | Delft Hydraulics, HR Wallingford and
the Danish Hydraulic Institute combine original research with facilities capable
of prototype testing. A significant portion of each organisation's R&D is
done in collaboration with government partners (see also UNFCCC, 1999).
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) increasingly offer a new channel for accomplishing
technology transfer in ways that governments and the private sector cannot, should
not or will not act. The advantage of NGOs is that they can serve as catalysts
to spark action and create diffusion networks at the grassroots level. NGOs have
the unique capability of reaching isolated communities and stakeholders to provide
the proper cultural and socio-economic contexts required for successful technology
transfer (see also Section 4.4).