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DESA Issues Draft Summary of Clean Technology Workshops

UNGAJuly 2013: The UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform has published a draft summary of four workshops convened by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 'Development, transfer and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies in developing countries.' Based on the four workshops and other inputs from Member States, the UN system and major groups, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to present a report for consideration by the UNGA at its 68th session, including on the way forward.

Workshop 1, held on 30 April 2013, recognized technology's potential to address development and sustainability challenges while cautioning that innovation capabilities, among other factors, limit realization of technology. Key messages include the need to: recognize the large number of actors in technology development and deployment; deploy and leverage technology at scale, with a focus on finance, institutions, markets and technology across innovation cycles; and integrate stakeholder knowledge.

Workshop 2, on 1 May, underscored that, although many technologies exist, developing countries need local capabilities to adapt and deploy such technologies. Participants considered options for addressing technology needs, including assessment and prioritization, readiness and implementation, monitoring and assessment and learning and experience sharing. Participants further highlighted a need for technologies for “unaddressed needs,” such as small-scale biomass energy and improved cookstoves.

Workshop 3, on 30 May, considered the relationship between intellectual property (IP) and technology facilitation, with participants recognizing that IP can serve as a barrier or a facilitator depending on the industry and technology. Presentations underscored that most capacity building takes place at later stages of technology cycles, particularly diffusion, with little emphasis on strengthening capabilities during earlier research and development stages.

In contrast to previous messages that “technology is there,” Workshop 4, held on 31 May, moved towards a view that clean and environmentally sound technologies “aren't there.” Participants discussed, inter alia: the need for and scope of a technology facilitation mechanism, including moving from a fragmented to an integrated approach; and prioritizing country groups in technology facilitation, such as Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

According to the summary, the four workshops seemed to reflect a growing willingness among Member States to overcome impasses and engage in dialogue on clean and environmentally sound technologies in developing countries. They also underscored different technology needs of countries with varying development and capability levels, and varying cultural, economic, institutional and social context, and highlighted the importance of sharing knowledge and practices within and across countries.

The process follows on a mandate in the outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20). [Publication: Draft Summary] [Workshop Statements and Presentations] [IISD RS Story on Workshop 1] [IISD RS Story on Workshops 2-4] [SDKP Webpage on Technology]