Methodological and Technological issues in Technology Transfer

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15.6.4 Barriers to Transnational Technology Transfer

Traditional barriers to technology transfer between countries, such as concerns by national governments about issues of national defence or economic competition, are generally not applicable to the transfer of coastal-adaptation technologies. However, government investment in R&D is primarily mission-oriented and focuses on needs and capacities within the home country. Consequently, many technology transactions across countries tend to be driven by (the desire to sell) technology rather than by the needs and special requirements of the host country. On the other hand, host countries often lack the necessary infrastructure for developing a market for the technology. In addition, government officials may lack technology awareness, while the workforce may lack technical skills and expertise (BCSD, 1992).

As noted before, ODA-funded projects have traditionally been directed towards costly infrastructure projects, which may be maladaptive. This suggests that the principal financial barrier to technology transfer for coastal adaptation is not a shortage of funds, but the preference of donors as well as recipients to underwrite projects involving hard technologies developed in industrialised countries. Financial means for coastal adaptation to climate change have been limited thus far. For example, the GEF has only funded activities to plan for adaptation (i.e., information development), rather than supporting actual adaptation activities. Two successful GEF-funded projects to help Pacific and Caribbean countries to plan adaptation to global climate change are the Pacific Islands Climate Change Assistance Programme (PICCAP) and the Caribbean Planning for Adaptation to Climate Change (CPACC). Case Study 20 provides a summary of relevant technology-transfer issues in CPACC.

Barriers of distance and culture must be overcome in all international transactions. These difficulties are multiplied if markets, information sources and the means of matching potential partners are poorly developed.

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