Methodological and Technological issues in Technology Transfer

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15.7.2 Possible Approaches to Promote Technology Transfer

The barriers identified above will not be overcome overnight. Many relate to fundamental and intrinsic characteristics and principles of today's society. Adjusting the process of technology transfer to accommodate societal imperfections will be easier to accomplish than the reverse. There are a number of important opportunities to promote technology transfer for coastal adaptation. All relevant stakeholders identified in this chapter have important responsibilities to seize these opportunities. Each of them has specific roles in technology transfer, but generally, neither of them can trigger all steps involved. It is therefore essential that there is true collaboration and interaction amongst all stakeholders. All stakeholders' interests must be known and considered to prevent the transfer of inappropriate technology, including technology that is culturally or socially unacceptable or cannot be operated or maintained using local expertise. Already in the project-formulation stage, it is crucial to consult and involve local experts.

Chapter 1 provided four questions that reinterpret the issues raised by the fourth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC CoP-4) in the Annex to its Decision 4/CP.4 (see Box 1.1 in Chapter 1 for all questions). The four questions can be summarised as:

The number and magnitude of ongoing coastal infrastructural projects suggest that coastal planners and managers are already receptive to technology transfer of a particular kind. However, there is a need to proceed from single transactions involving only hardware to long-term partnerships that also concentrate on enhancing human capacity by providing technical assistance and in-situ training. Moreover, awareness that protection is often not the most appropriate strategy to adapt to climate change is growing, but it remains difficult for coastal planners to oversee the entire spectrum of available options. The establishment of a clearinghouse for coastal-adaptation technologies could facilitate the task of technology selection and evaluation. Such a clearinghouse would develop and hold an extensive catalogue of available technologies, including information on their costs, performance, owner (if not publicly owned), availability, implementation requirements and other relevant issues.

Addressing the prevalent barriers does not require setting up new bilateral and multilateral institutions or mechanisms. Instead, existing activities and institutions need to be refocused to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of coastal technology transfer, taking climate change into account. Technology transfer will be served by regional collaboration, especially when it concerns countries that do not have the necessary human or financial resources to develop or manage large projects independently. Examples of successful projects involving technology transfer that are the result of regional collaborations are PICCAP and CPACC. Primarily aimed at information development, these projects recognise that effective coastal adaptation and related technology transfer require a better understanding of local adaptation needs.

Annex II Parties have an important responsibility to facilitate coastal adaptation in vulnerable countries. Many donors have traditionally attached a higher priority to projects aimed at mitigating climate change than to adaptation projects. The UNFCCC CoP-4, however, decided that activities directed at the preparation of adaptation activities are now eligible for funding by the GEF. This decision, along with the pressing need for adaptation, may stimulate other donors to revisit their priorities. For most locations, there is no need to invest in the development of new technologies. Rather, the evaluation, adjustment and repetition of existing technologies need to be stimulated. Annex II Parties may also promote the establishment of collaborative mechanisms for technology transfer.

The private sector may be able to extend its role in technology transfer when provided with the right incentives. These incentives would tend to increase the profitability of socially desirable technology-transfer projects and could include subsidies for investment and tax exemptions of income. The role of the private sector may also be extended by regulation. In transnational technology transfer, for example, the home company could be required to involve a partner company in the host country. Finally, professional organisations can stimulate private-sector involvement by lobbying and engaging in relevant networks.

Finally, in a Special Report that discusses the methodological and technological issues involved in technology transfer one might lose sight of the fact that technology by itself is not a panacea. Coastal-adaptation technologies can provide an important contribution to the sustainable development in coastal zones, but their effectiveness depends strongly on the economic, institutional, legal and socio-cultural contexts in which they are implemented. Furthermore, climate change is but one of the many interacting stresses in coastal zones. The importance of controlling non-climate stresses in the quest to reduce coastal vulnerability to climate change must not be underestimated.

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