Task Manager's Report on TRANSFER OF ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND TECHNOLOGY, COOPERATION AND CAPACITY-BUILDING Executive Summary IACSD may wish to consider the following issues derived from the present report and take decisions in terms of specific joint activities or collaborative actions. Information networking: - Improvement of computer-based information networks and regular means of communication within the United Nations system at the Headquarters and field levels respectively. - Creation of a network of interface institutions to fill the information gaps between environmental agencies and industrial and other users. - Reinforcing assistance in identifying right sources of information and supplementing infrastructural weaknesses, in addition to capacity-building in technological information handling and management. - Improvement of technological criteria or indicators for "environmentally soundness", to be also reflected in patent information. Access to technology transfer: - Formulation of a more coherent framework for activities of the United Nations system in technology transfer. - Development of an appropriate mechanism to provide needs assessment and extension services. - Formulation of guidelines for technology transfer through technical assistance, to be done through joint efforts. - Assistance in developing incentive systems to promote the transfer and use of environmentally sound technologies particularly by the private sector. - Enhancing collaboration to promote "softer" aspects of technologies to be transferred. - Assistance in mobilization of domestic and international resources to finance technology transfer. - Risk financing by international financial institutions. Capacity-building: - Involvement of non-governmental organizations and users/beneficiaries including women and the informal sector, in decision-making and in technical capacity-building efforts. - Formulation of guidelines for technical assistance provided by the Untied Nations system in supporting capacity building in developing countries. - Strengthening of inter-institutional coordination at the national level to promote consistency of policies and to resolve conflicts of interests. Network of research centres - Enhanced promotion of collaborative research networks, particularly of a south-south nature; sharing of research facilities, personnel and findings among countries with common problems or research interests. - Better integrated efforts among the United Nations agencies involved in this area. Cooperation programmes - Optimization of the system-wide expertise and the limited resources available through coordinated and joint programming. - Adoption of lead agency approach based on specialization within an integrated framework. - Closer cooperation between the specialized agencies and Regional Commissions. Technology assessment - Formulation of guidelines for technology assessment or environmental impact assessment both for developing countries as well as for executing agencies of technical assistant projects. - Question of a global focal point and regional focal points for technology assessment within the United Nations system and allocation of responsibilities. - Strengthening technology assessment capabilities at national, regional and international levels, through networking of existing institutions including those in the private sector. Collaborative arrangements and partnerships - Need to collect and disseminate case studies on collaborative arrangements and partnerships in the private sector, including those involving transnational corporations. - Scope for inter-agency cooperation in promoting and monitoring collaborative arrangements and partnerships between enterprises in both the public and private sectors, of North- South as well as South-South nature. - Assistance in developing policy measures to promote foreign direct investment. - Need for regional nodes as well as a global focal point in exchanging information and experiences on technology-oriented collaborative arrangements and partnerships. INTRODUCTION Transfer of environmentally sound technology, cooperation and capacity-building, discussed in chapter 34 of Agenda 21, is one of the cross-sectoral themes to be considered annually by the Commission on Sustainable Development in May 1994. The Inter- Agency Committee on Sustainable Development, at its second session, designated the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD) to be the Task Manager for this theme, to issue a report for submission to IACSTD at its third session. The development and application of environmentally sound technologies is a necessity for industrialized and developing countries alike. However, the majority of developing countries do not yet have the necessary national scientific and technical capacity to manage technological change. These countries, with possible exceptions, cannot be expected in the short run, to acquire national capacity for the generation of new technologies. Consequently, they will have recourse to technology transfer, for which the national capacity to absorb and adapt environment friendly technologies from external sources, becomes important. Another means to be considered in parallel, will be to build on traditional technologies and know-how, which are often found to be compatible with sustainable development particularly in the respective national contexts. This report on transfer of environmentally sound technology, cooperation and capacity-building covers seven areas of action recommended under Chapter 34 of Agenda 21. Under each of the areas reported, a summary of the concept, progress made, particular problems encountered and recommendations for the future, are provided. They are based on the contributions given by various organizations and agencies of the United Nations system. I. DEVELOPMENT OF INTERNATIONA INFORMATION NETWORKS WHICH LINK NATIONAL, SUBREGIONAL, REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL SYSTEMS A. Concept Information constraints and the lack of capacity to handle and manage technological information properly are constantly identified as major bottlenecks in the transfer and diffusion of technology. Access to information on technologies is an indispensible condition for informed decision making regarding appropriate technology choices; to negotiate equitable terms with the suppliers of technologies; and to achieve an effective transfer/blending/adaptation/management of technology. In response to the need to improve access to information, in particular by developing countries, efforts are being made by various United Natios agencies to develop or assist in the development of information networks and clearinghouses. Those efforts also included activities aimed at building the capacities of the countries concerned to handle and manage technological information. United Nations agencies are also striving to increase the medium options available as well as to improve their efficiency and effectiveness in reaching the users. Information is packaged in as "user-friendly" manner as possible, with various options including on-line, diskette, electronic mail as well as in print, and made available both for public and private sector users. B. Progress Achieved The Agricultural Information System (AGRIS) and Current Agricultural Research Information System (CARIS) were established and are coordinated by FAO to support worldwide sharing of agricultural information about results of research and development activities. Both in formation networks operate multilingually. One of the unique features of AGRIS/CARIS is the possibility they offer to integrate with, and support national and regional systems. FAO is also engaged in training activities aimed at strengthening the users' capacities to properly handle and manage information. Activities of UNIDO's Industrial and Technological Information Section (INTIB) include assistance to developing countries in building up techno-intelligence capabilities at the subsectoral level so as to enable them to monitor technological developments, assess global market trends and analyze key competitors and partners as essential inputs into strategic decision-making. Information networking has taken unconventional form in case of UNIDO's Techmart, which is a business forum where direct contacts between technology seekers and suppliers are made and where information on technologies is embedded in sample products, drawings, process flow diagrams, photographs and product catalogues displayed there. An indexed compendium of the technologies offered and requested worldwide is made available in advance of the event to facilitate such networking. Networking of environmental professionals, including practitioners and educators, was developed by WHO for the purpose of sharing information that facilitates locating and publicizing available resources in environmental management and technology. UNEP and UNCHS (Habitat) have developed a number of databases and clearinghouses, such as the ITPCT database, the International Cleaner Production Information Clearinghouse, the Ozone Information Clearinghouse under the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol, and INFOTERRA. The experience gained has shown that tremendous efforts are required to collect and continuously update reliable and adequate information as well as to disseminate them to the end users. In order to perform these tasks adequately, there would be also more funding needed than currently available. UNEP has also established a network of centres of excellence which are contracted to respond to queries regarding environmental information. One of these centres is the Global Resource Information Database (GRID) which is also aiming at developing itself into a global environmental information exchange network. With that goal in mind, GRID assists nations and institutions to acquire geographic information systems and related image-analysis technology. In a specific area of fertilizer production, the Fertilizer Advisory, Development and Information Network for Asia and the Pacific (FADINAP) contains information related to the transfer of environmentally sound technologies from various publications, workshops, conferences and the international fertilizer press. A Coordinating Group for the Harmonization of Chemical Classification Systems was established within the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS), under the leadership of ILO. The Group has elaborated terms of reference and workplans to establish a globally harmonized system of classification and labelling of hazardous chemicals by year 2000 and has started the necessary technical work. The complexity of information needs often require inter- agency, inter-disciplinary endeavors. The inter-agency Project on Data Bases and Methodologies for Comparative Assessment of Different Energy Sources for Electricity Generation (DECADES), for instance, is based on a partnership which include both UN and non-UN intergovernmental organizations and provides information on technologies in current use or in planning in the field. The International Cleaner Production Information Clearing Houses (ICPIC) has been developed by UNDP in co-operation with UNIDO and other UN agencies; information is collected on the basis of literature searches and also through working groups of internationally recognized experts. International and regional technology centres serve as intermediaries between national users and international suppliers of information. UNEP's International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC) has a programme to promote information exchange on the available technologies for environmental management. The African Regional Centre for Technology Information System (ARCTIS) and the Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology (APCTT) both have sub-mechanisms to promote purpose- oriented information networking. ARCTIC has networks focused on technology resource information services, food, energy and local areas, while APCTT has a Mechanism for Exchange of Technology Information (METI) to facilitate the transfer of environmentally sound technologies to small and medium enterprises. C. Problems Encountered International networking is facilitated by latest information technologies, including E-mail. The main issue here is the availability of telephone lines for E-mail communication, quantity and quality of computer services available and reliability of electricity, in most of the developing countries. Telecommunication facilities need to be enhanced and modernized, for which ITU provides technical assistance, but also costs need to be reduced to enable greater use of such links. A recognized problem is the weakness of vertical information flow between environmental/cleaner production agencies at one level and industries and non-industrial users at another. The horizontal information flow among different environmental agencies seems to be smoother. In patent information provided through national patent offices, there is currently no classification for "environmentally sound technologies". According to WIPO, no such classification could be proposed without specific, accepted technological criteria for "environmental soundness". A question particularly for developing countries, is the extent to which the patent offices disseminate information on WIPO's information services, as well as the degree to which companies understand the national patent offices to be a source of information. D. Conclusions and Recommendations In order of promote access to and dissemination of information on a regular and systematic basis, there is a need to develop and improve computer-based networks and regular means of communication within the United Nations system at Headquarters, regional and field offices respectively (e.g. through teleconferences, E-mails, telenetworks, etc.). It would be useful to include bibliographic data on agency reports and information on major meetings and other events in the information to be exchanged or data base to be accessed. Mechanisms for enhancing the availability and the reliability of information on environmentally sound technologies will depend largely on the extent of cooperation and networking, both between concerned institutions within countries of the region and between international and regional organizations and specialized agencies of the United Nations system. Reinforced assistance must be provided to the users of technological information, with focus on building of the capacities to identify the right sources of information, to properly handle and manage technological information, and to formulate cooperative arrangements with institutions that have the potential to supplement the users' infrastractural weaknesses as well as to help them in meeting their information needs. An inventory of existing international and regional information exchange systems and clearinghouses should be conducted by the relevant United Nations bodies. Such an inventory should include an assessment of the functions and usefulness of these information exchange systems and clearinghouses, and proposals for improvement. Essentially based on already existing interface institutions, sub-regional, regional and global networks needs to be developed in order to fully cover the required information flow between environmental agencies and industrial and other users, so as to promote cleaner production and other environmentally sound technologies among the users on a more effective and self-sustainable manner. These interface institutions may be international, regional or private organizations which can provide information directly to users as well as via national information handling institutions while providing on-the-job training to strengthen their capacities. Transfer of information and knowledge then could themselves be part of capacity building. The on-going work within the United Nations system on indicators for sustainable development should consider the need for the development of criteria or indicators to be applied for the assessment of "environmental soundness" of technologies, to be also reflected in patent applications. II. SUPPORT OF AND PROMOTION OF ACCESS TO TRANSFER OF TECHNOLOGY A. Concept Transfer of environmentally sound technologies is a key issue in the formulation and implementation of national policies and programmes for achieving sustainable development objectives. In conformity with the relevant provisions of Chapter 34 of Agenda 21, Governments and international organizations should promote, and encourage the private sector to promote, effective modalities for the transfer of environmentally sound technologies, in particular to developing countries. The various parts of the United Nations system have a major role to play in promoting international transfer of technology, including through their technical assistance programmes. Sharing of experiences is required to improve in the formulation of a more coherent framework for activities of the United Nations system in technology transfer and in the assessment of technology needs of countries, so that, among others, more attention could be paid to the demand side of technology transfer. B. Progress Achieved Efforts by United Nations agencies to support and promote transfer of technology, particularly to developing countries have been made from various angles. UNIDO and UNCTAD have provided policy advice and undertaken policy studies on various aspects of technology transfer. FAO is developing concepts and frameworks for technology assessment and transfer, including the formulation of guidelines. ECA, through meetings and training seminars it organized, stressed the role of market mechanisms in promoting technology transfer, with application of laws and regulations limited to protection against environmentally unsound and unhealthy technology. UNEP's International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC) undertakes research to identify potential barriers hindering international transfer of technology and to seek consensus to remove such barriers. WMO's Hydrological Operational Multipurpose System (HOMS) is a networked technology transfer system in science and engineering with a formal structure for transfer and application of discrete and distinct items of technology. There is an awareness that some modern technologies have to be re-engineered and re-dimensioned to be adopted to local conditions. Moreover, refocus of transfer has become more process-oriented, as opposed to product oriented. UNIDO and UNEP, for example, promote cleaner production through process optimization. Enhanced efforts are made for institutional strengthening and capacity building of local personnel in the course of transfer process for achieving self-sustainability. A concern has been on how to break the conventional dependency path that often results from international transfer of technology. UNDP's Urban Environment Technology Initiative (URBENTECH), for example, is being developed with the aim to provide alternatives to developing countries' cities and policy makers concerning more appropriate technological choices. UNCTAD's programme on technology transfer placed emphasis on enhancement of national technological and innovation capabilities of developing countries and on the challenges and opportunities created by technological change. World Bank-supported projects and Global Environment Facility (GEF) projects foster the transfer of clean technology while strengthening institutional capacity and improving the scientific and technological base. Innovative ways of technology transfer have been sought in some areas. In agriculture, the role of farmer associations as vectors, is receiving increased attention. A long-standing programme of FAO focuses on indigenous technologies on one hand and on promotion of new technology packages to increase production yield on the other. Mechanisms are being developed to transfer appropriate agricultural technologies developed by international research institutes to farmers in different regions of the world. ILO technical cooperation projects have demonstrated that the fostering of cooperative linkages among commercial suppliers of technologies, training and R&D institutions and end-users could ensure sustainability in the use of environment-friendly technologies transferred. ESCWA and ECLAC aim at improving the role of industrial development banks in transferring technology. In health, the transfer of vaccination technology to countries calls for the establishment and maintenance of Expert Advisory Panels, collection and dissemination of biotechnology information and a data base of international and national regulations related to vaccination and biotechnology. These activities have been in progress in WHO, and other agencies are encouraged to join. Some agencies worked on formulating and promoting guidelines. ILO developed a code of practice on safety, health and working conditions in the transfer of technology to developing countries and released it to assist all concerned, in both the public and the private sectors, who have responsibility for safety and health hazards arising from the transfer. ICAO is working on the development of a global coordinated plan for the ICAO Communications, Navigation, Surveillance and Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) systems to promote transfer of technology in a progressive and coordinated manner. C. Problems Encountered In general, the "transfer of environmentally sound technologies" is still in search of a more coherent policy framework in relation to activities of the United Nations agencies. A problem of technology transfer, including through technical assistance provided by the United Nations agencies, has often been the supply-oriented approach taken. Not enough emphasis has been made on the importance of need assessment, understanding of local conditions and adoptive capabilities, before technology transfer is promoted. There has also been a lack clear strategy for technology transfer on the part of recipient countries, which have brought about undesirable consequences. The transfer of environmentally-sound technologies to developing countries is constrained by both commercial and non- commercial factors. In ESCWA region, non-oil countries of the region, in particular, will consider the additional investment aimed at ensuring the environmental compatibility of production equipment an unacceptable burden in the face of urgent economic and social development goals. Among the non-commercial factors, the most important is the inadequacy of the science and technology systems. According to IMF, the use of tax incentives for the promotion of investment in many countries is not encouraging and is thus not recommendable. The use of fiscal incentives will be counter-productive without ensuring stable macroeconomic conditions. In addition to fiscal incentives, other incentives and environmental quality control measures which would motivate the private sector to invest in the development or transfer of environmentally sound technologies, are also lacking in general. Environmental regulations are often not effectively implemented in practice, mainly due to various economic reasons. Unless these problems are addressed, any training and extension services will not be sufficient to promote the use of environmentally sound technologies. Sometimes, technology transfer takes place as a by-product of other intended activities. In such cases, implications were not anticipated and chances for successful adoption might also be low. Technology transfer, particularly between enterprises, generally involves some sort of licensing agreement. A patent holder may refuse to license his/her patent. This often happens when the holder is concerned about losing the market share of a particular product. In the case of compulsory licensing, the interested user could still have the technological information contained in the patent but which will be unaccompanied by any know-how or technical assistance. The use of such technology would then be very limited. Biotechnology is often considered as affordable and thus beneficial to developing countries. Pro-poor features include reduced costs of agricultural production and greater scale- neutrality that could benefit small producers, as well as the generally lower levels of application of agri-chemicals that makes biotechnology more environmentally-friendly. However, the legal and financial barriers still remain for developing countries to access such technology. Also requiring special attention is the fact that certain biotechnologies, like genetically engineered herbicide resistant crop varies, according to an ILO study, have negative implications for employment such as displacement of female labour in densely populated regions of Asia and the requirement for loads of agri-chemicals. D. Conclusions and Recommendations In order to promote technology transfer and local adaptation, needs assessment and aggressive extension services are urgently required, and appropriate mechanisms to provide these assessments and services should be developed. Such mechanisms should include a publicly-funded intermediary institution in the recipient country which could play a catalytic role in selection, acquisition and wide dissemination of environmentally sound technologies. Technology has been channelled to developing countries to an increasing degree in unconventional forms such as franchising and non-affiliate licensing of technology which do not involve foreign equity participation: a form of technology transfer often preferred by small and medium enterprises. Another emerging form of technology transfer is the build-operate-transfer type of investment, which is particularly suited to infrastructure projects. The competent United Nations agencies should promote such diversification of technology transfer and provide the necessary support in this regard. Guidelines and codes of operation are often developed in cases of conventional transfer of technology, for the policy makers and entrepreneurs of recipient countries, and for suppliers of technology in developed countries. There is no clear guidelines for technology transfer through technical assistance - either bilateral or multilateral. The formulation of such guidelines to be done through joint efforts by various executing agencies within the United Nations system would be necessary and useful. Collaborative efforts should be enhanced to promote the transfer of "softer" aspects of technologies, including managerial and organizational capacities. The role of local/international consultancy as a carrier of technology transfer should be reviewed. Consultants can help recognize deficiencies in a technology package, improve the technology by incorporating actual experience in plant operation and assist in appropriate choice including sizing of equipment to suit a particular situation. The local consultancy would particularly be useful in early evaluation of technologies being considered for transfer, particularly for their environmentally soundness and local adaptability. The question of financing is an essential issue for improving the access to technology transfer. The commercialization costs of the development of new technologies in the final phase of the innovative stage are relatively large and involve a large magnitude of resources which make it difficult for any single agency to support. The participation of regional and international financial institutions should be actively sought in this case to share the burden of risk finance. This could take the form of soft loans or grants for development of environmentally sound technologies close to the stage of commercialization of applications. Governments may consider providing financial incentives such as tax exemptions and subsidies, to be applied in the context of stable macro-economic conditions. Increasing the flow of investible resources to support technology transfer, is an urgent priority. The most promising examples of technology financing come from the countries which have mobilized domestic resources through innovative financing schemes without relying heavily on international finance. In case of energy, Habitat finds that large subsidies are given to the conventional energy sector, a portion of which, if invested for the promotion of renewable energy technologies or for improving energy efficiency, could go a long way towards a more sustainable energy system. Moreover, subsidies have proven more effective when applied to the demand side rather than to the supply side. Speedy upgrading of traditional technologies especially in small-scale sectors, often depends on the availability of venture capital or risk-bearing loans from local financial institutions. Development finance institutions can help in this area by providing incentive schemes to commercial banks. They can also facilitate external credit by bundling a number of small projects into bankable proposals. Case studies could be jointly carried out by concerned United Natios agencies providing successful and unsuccessful cases of technology transfer involving both propriatory and public domain technologies. III. IMPROVEMENT OF THE CAPACITY TO DEVELOP AND MANAGE ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND TECHNOLOGIES A. Concept Capacity-building for technology management is essential to make effective and efficient use of technologies, whether transferred or self-generated, and to engage successfully in technology cooperation. Capacity-building policies and activities for technology management should be basically country- or demand-driven. As part of the national capacity-building process, the conceptual approach to capacity-building for technology management should be linked to the overall context of socio- economic development and take into account long-term development perspectives. Consistant with the relevant provisions of Chapter 34 of Agenda 21 , activities should be focussed on the development of frameworks to develop, transfer and apply environmentally sound technologies and corresponding technical know-how with a special focus on developing countries' needs, as well as on building the national capacities to assess, develop, manage and apply new technologies. B. Progress Achieved The United Nations system has continued to provide technical assistance aimed at endogenous capacity building in various conventional forms of on-the-job training, fellowships, study tours, pilot demonstration, workshops and formulation of guidelines and manuals in specific areas. In addition, the recent trends include emphasis on a participatory approach involving all the stakeholders (including end-users, entrepreneurs, researchers, extension service agents, planners and policy-makers at all levels), on reinforced support to the local private sector, on establishing and strengthening linkages of various kinds, and on inter-disciplinary approaches. In industry, UNIDO reports, the concept of clean technologies is gaining increasing attention, insofar as the focus of attention in environmental protection has shifted from "end-of-pipe" solutions (cleaning technologies) to very source of production (cleaner production based on cleaner technologies). In promoting cleaner production, the emphasis has been on process improvements, similar to process optimization, aiming at waste minimization and energy optimization in production processes, in order to increase the competitiveness of industry and to meet environmental requirements. UNIDO-assisted capacity building in cleaner production has involved several types. At the policy level, assistance has been given in devising industrial policies and strategies and in incorporating environmental considerations into them. At the institutional level, the focus has been on designing and supporting institutional strengthening. At the enterprise level, technical assistance has been provided in the field of waste minimization auditing, in the technical aspects of individual subsectors, as well as in the form of technical information. The ICAO Interregional TRAINAIR Programme, a global training resource-sharing network, is designed to assist the civil aviation training centres of the developing world to maintain academic standards and self-sufficiency. ILO is addressing the technological needs of the informal sector by inducing the private sector to respond to such needs. It also tries to assess the employment effects of technological change, flexible specialization and organization of production among small and medium sized enterprises in developing countries. The World Bank has continued to expand its support for institutional strengthening and technical education projects that build such capacity. Some such projects aimed at rehabilitating local research institutes and strengthening university-level or professional education and training capacities. ECLAC has emphasized the importance of increasing international competitiveness of the industries in the region. Its assistance has thus been concerned with the design and promotion of policies and strategies for the acquisition, improvement and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies, which are directed to achieve and sustain such competitiveness. Strengthening linkages between production systems and the technological infrastructure, between sectors, and between large firms and small and medium companies, was also a ECLAC's programmatic focus. INSTRAW prepared a module on Women and Waste Management which provides guidelines and checklists for involving women in waste management schemes and the range of technological support available at the international, national and community level. UNESCO has encouraged new partnerships among governments, industry, research institutions, educational institutions and non-governmental organizations, in order to support inter- institutional coordination at national/regional levels. Such partnerships are encouraged to pool expertise and resources together for the common purpose of capacity building. They will also be ways to break down the traditional barriers between different sectors and institutions. C. Problems Encountered The concept of endogenous capacity building has not yet been uniformly applied in operational terms. The traditional supply- oriented approaches in technical assistance have failed to produce expected results in capacity building and so did one- sided decision-making without the involvement of users and beneficiaries. The United Nations system has recognized such shortcomings of the past but increased efforts are needed to promote participatory approaches and to consider needs of the demand side. The informal sector which faces difficulties in acquiring and applying technology, has not been given enough attention. Such difficulties hinder the growth of the enterprises and reduce their overall employment-generation capacity. D. Conclusions and Recommendations A number of impact assessments of the United Nations system's activities in capacity-building in science and technologies in selected countries have been undertaken within the context of the UNDP/UNFSTD project on Endogenous Capacity Building. An overall review of these experiences which is planned to be conducted in the course of 1994, should aim at formulating guidelines for national policies and technical assistance provided by the United Nations system in supporting capacity building in developing countries. This review could also be helpful in identifying ways and means to strengthening inter-institutional co-ordination at the national level to promote consistency of policies and to resolve conflicts of interests. In view of the massive number of people needing training the United Nations system should concentrate on awareness-raising mainly of high-level decision makers in governments and industry, and on training the trainers to help develop local skills to use environmentally sound technology. It is also necessary to help develop curricula for engineering schools, business and public administration schools, which integrate the environmental dimension. The drive to enhance scientific and technological capabilities in the developing countries should be pursued in parallel with vigorous interaction with sources of technology in the industrialized countries, with the view to ensure that technologies acquired from such sources are appropriately assessed for their environmental soundness and are properly installed, disseminated and maintained. The involvement of non-governmental organizations and technology users /beneficiaries, including the informal sector in capacity-building at local and grass-roots levels is increasingly important. The United Nations system should work closely with the relevant non-governmental organizations to bring about an optimal contribution to the local endogenous capacity building process, as well as to help leverage the limited available resources. Women are important stakeholders in the production and use of technologies and should be considered as an important agent for technological change. They should be exposed to and trained in improved technologies through technical cooperation projects, so that their employment opportunities in non-traditional areas of production can be diversified and expanded. IV. ESTABLISHMENT OF A COLLABORATIVE NETWORK OF RESEARCH CENTRES A. Concept In order to take advantage of the know-how available, and to enhance the generation of indigenous technologies, countries should also have the capacities to maintain their own research and development (R & D) system of environmentally sound technological innovation. A sufficient R & D basis is needed to generate and adapt technologies and to engage successfully in international R & D co-operation on environmentally sound technologies. The proposed collaborative network of national, subregional, regional and international research centres on environmentally sound technology would have a broader scope than the traditional academic communities that exist. It would also have a wider range of partners among developed countries, economies in transition and developing countries. B. Progress Achieved The United Nations agencies concerned with activities in this area have attached importance in fostering, through collaborative research networks, South-South and North-South institutional cooperation and partnerships between institutions in developed and developing countries. UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) have established in their respective fields sub- regional and regional networks for research, training and knowledge sharing. The regional networks have been interconnected to constitute global networks. The START (Global Change System for Analysis, Research and Training) Regional Research Networks, undertaken by UNESCO, WMO, the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC), is aimed at promoting research on the regional origins and impacts of global environmental changes and through vigorous training and fellowship programmes, to enhance indigenous scientific capacity to engage in focused research on critical regional environmental issues. In implementing the START concept, distinct biogeographic regions have been identified for the development of regional networks, which will gradually be developed into a global system of networks. Within the broad objective of the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) of supporting scientific excellence and research in the Third World, 22 developing countries have offered to upgrade existing productive centres to form a part of an international network called the Third World Network of Scientific Organizations. UNIDO, UNESCO and ICSU are cooperating with TWAS in this endeavor. The European System of Cooperative Research Networks in Agriculture (ESCORENA) promoted by FAO since 1974, have successively covered different agricultural products or processes. The approach taken is that topic-specific working groups are formed based on needs, requiring the active participation of their members and cease to operate when the objectives have been reached or when their members withdraw. The networks operate on a two-tier structure with coordination and working group. Several agricultural research centres which are members of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) co-sponsored by the World Bank, FAO and UNDP, have made considerable progress in harnessing biotechnology to increase the productivity of Consultative Group mandated crops. CGIAR also helps to strengthen national research systems in such a way that CG system research on agriculture, forestry and aquatic farming systems has led to development and adoption of improved technologies and sustainable management practices, creating, among other things, technologies for resource poor lands that would otherwise be ignored or neglected. As follow-up to UNCED, CGIAR has proposed expanding its research and technology development activities, building on ongoing CG center research by creating new global initiatives in the areas of marginal soils, genetic resources, human resources and agro-ecological data base/GIS. The National Cleaner Production Centres (NCPC) established jointly by UNEP and UNIDO in a number of developing countries and countries in transition have a mandate of promoting co-operation with other countries and of launching local demonstration projects and research. 99 proposals have been received since 1992. So far, funding for three years for seven centres has been secured. Those centres should be self sustaining after three to five years. IAEA's own laboratories have coordinated research programmes that link national institutes in developing and industrialized countries. Active cooperation is underway among IAEA, UNEP, WHO, FAO and WMO in making maximum use of the these facilities for the implementation of Agenda 21. ECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes provides for common research and development in support of achieving and maintaining water- quality objectives in transboundary waters. As a first step, focal points for the activities under the Convention have been established in a number of ECE countries, which may disseminate relevant information on results of research and development. It is also intended to establish one or more regional coordination centres which provide scientific, methodological and technical support to countries in transition within the framework of the Convention. C. Problems Encountered Many agencies are involved in establishing and strengthening research centres, particularly at the national level, but not enough activities have been undertaken so far in creating collaborative networks. Much more needs to be done in promoting South-South R & D co-operation. Advantages of joint R & D undertakings or sharing of facilities, personnel as well as findings should be strongly advocated, in particular among developing countries with common problems that call for similar or equal technological solutions. D. Conclusions and Recommendations The general purpose of establishing a collaborative network of regional research centres is to engage in R & D, training and fellowship programmes focussed on critical regional environmental problems and on regional impacts of environmental issues which are global in nature. In would be important to promote this purpose in linking existing national R & D and training centres. Many agencies in developed countries are willing to support capacity-building in developing countries' institutions. The efforts to strengthen institutional capacities through collaborative research and other joint endeavors will need to be pursued and considerably increased in the coming years. UNEP/IETC aims at establishing global networks of environmental technologies through collaboration among relevant countries and organizations. The Centre, when it becomes fully operational, should take the leading role in collaborative efforts within the United Nations system in this field while avoiding duplication. As resources are required for developing and promoting collaborative research networks, UNDP and the Regional Development Banks should also join the effort. In addition, the activities of the United Nations University through its network of research centres could be more closely interrelated with the relevant activities of specialized agencies and the Regional Commissions, so as to optimize resources and provide well-integrated services to the developing countries. V. SUPPORT FOR PROGRAMMES OF CO-OPERATION AND ASSISTANCE A. Concept Agenda 21 suggests ways and means in which endogenous capacity-building in assessing, adopting, managing and applying environmentally sound technologies, particularly in developing countries, can be supported. Areas to be supported include research and development, training, return of qualified expatriates, maintenance, needs assessment, environmental impact assessments and sustainable development planning. B. Progress Achieved Training of local scientists and engineers is a key subject in the transfer, use and dissemination of environmentally sound technologies. The components of training programmes pursued by various United Nations agencies in various fields can be summarized as follows: organization of short-term courses and extended periods of training for learning technical details; organization of follow-up programmes to provide continuous information and technical assistance to former participants in the above courses; organization of "refresher" regional courses, aimed at continuing education in priority areas. While training aimed at achieving excellence and skills in specific scientific and technological disciplines continue to be a critical part of technical assistance provided by the United Nations system, an increased recognition is paid to the value of interdisciplinary and intersectoral training. Similarly in institutional capacity building, the challenge of interdisciplinarity and the need to establish cross-sectoral linkages are addressed by some agencies. An indirect objective of training programmes is to create a nucleus of scientists in many countries who will play an institution-strengthening role and who will become directly involved in the development and evaluation of locally acceptable, environmentally sound technologies. A "training of trainers" programme jointly being undertaken by UNEP, ILO and WHO on environmental management in industry, is a example of activities that have a potential multiplier effect. Disseminating knowledge, skills and technical know-how through trained local personnel is also more effective than technology transfer through foreign experts. Institutional capacity building has been the focus of UNIDO's activities in this area, as it recognizes the importance of well trained, equipped and informed public and private sector institutions to promote cleaner production. Institutional support and information about cleaner production is also provided to environmental management agencies and to productivity organizations for the same reason. C. Problems Encountered The main obstacle encountered in supporting the local private sector is often the absence, in many countries, of appropriate legal frameworks, offering venture capital, financial and fiscal incentives, to the local entrepreneurs. United Nations agencies are trying to tackle this problem with activities specifically targeted to benefit local entrepreneurs. Examples include ECA's pilot demonstration units which show how to develop environmentally sound technologies in the areas of food and energy; and technology-enterprise incubators promoted by UNIDO, UNFSTD and ECA. Attempts to bring staff from developing countries to training courses in developed countries have been unsuccessful in some cases for such reasons as: trainees are exposed to comparatively high-level technology which is not applicable or which cannot be achieved in their own countries due to lack of funds and facilities. D. Conclusions and Recommendations Modalities for assistance in promoting environmentally sound technology transfer should be coordinated and jointly programmed by different United Nations agencies so as to optimize the system-wide expertise as well as the limited resources available. At the national level, this can be done through the Programme Approach during national programming cycles. The notion of lead agencies based on specialization and the topic being dealt with could be adopted through an integrated framework. At the regional level, the specialized agencies should work ever more closely with the Regional Commissions to develop regional programmes and to coordinate the implementation of the multitude of studies, surveys, research and capacity-building projects to promoted technological development of the individual countries as well as their respective regions. Such activities should take into account the actual and potential roles of governmental and nongovernmental institutions, and the private enterprises. The participation of local and professional institutions should be cultivated to the extent possible. The promotion of public awareness should also be stressed. In this regard, both the national and regional programmes should be formulated with distinct phases and clear targets which are transparent and communicable. A technical service network has been proposed by ECE which would primarily focus on developing innovative cooperative schemes between appropriate organizations and individuals in the private and public sectors that are capable of providing/receiving technology, design and engineering services, equipment or finance. VI. TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT IN SUPPORT OF THE MANAGEMENT OF ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND TECHNOLOGY A. Concept Technology needs are evolving in response to the community needs and the international state-of-the-art. Assessment of such needs would enable countries to make intelligent choices regarding environmentally sound technologies. Suggested activities include capacity building in technology assessment including environmental impact and risk assessment; and strengthening international network of environmentally sound technology assessment centres at various levels. Technology assessment related activities conducted by the United Nations agencies were very much part of their support to endogenous capacity building in developing countries or closely related to activities promoting better access to technology transfer. Such activities have been broadly of two types: those aimed at strengthening technology assessment capabilities of developing countries; or assessments undertaken by the UN agencies themselves which would benefit countries concerned. B. Progress Achieved Developing regional networks of technology assessment centres has been promoted by several organizations. A regional UNDP/FAO project on "Farmer-Centered Resource Management" (FARM) was launched in 1993, involving eight Asian countries. It has strong elements of technology assessment through participatory approaches. A training seminar on methodologies for the assessment of environmentally sound technologies, organized by ECA in 1993, proposed a network of institutions which conduct or could conduct impact and risk assessment. An important purpose of networking with regard to technology assessment is information sharing. UNEP, for example, initiated the preparation of an Environmental Technology Assessment Newsletter (EnTA), aimed at sharing information and experience in this field. Some progress has been made in preparing guidelines and manuals on prerequisites for and modalities of conducting technology assessment. Guidelines and indicators developed through a workshop on technology assessment and transfer for sustainable agriculture and rural development in the ESCAP region, deal with technology assessment and transfer through sectoral linkages and capacity building for developing the necessary human resources, policies and infrastructures. They are being further refined, and similar exercise are intended to replicated in other regions during 1995-96. UNEP, in consultation with UNCTAD, initiated a study of possible guidelines to avoid the transfer of hazardous technologies. DDSMS published two guides to assist developing countries and countries in transition to assess technology in the field of energy: "Energy Efficiency in Transportation: Alternatives for the Future"; and "Power Generation Options: Rehabilitation for Life Extension and Cogeneration". Both guides included basic information on improving energy use, supported by relevant case studies which illustrate what can be accomplished given different levels of technology. IAEA, in partnership with UNIDO, UNEP and WHO, completed a procedures manual for risk assessment and management of health and environmental risks of energy and other complex systems, and case studies are under way in several countries in this regard. ITU carried out technology assessment activities to ensure the appropriateness of the technologies or their possible adaptation to local conditions and needs, as an entwined activity of technology transfer. ECE evaluate the cost-effectiveness of energy and resource-saving technologies; recovery, recycling and re-utilization of industrial wastes; implications of low-waste technology, emphasizing economic aspects; and hazardous waste management. An ILO survey of rural and urban sample of households in Kenya demonstrated a key role of certain environmentally sound technologies in forging mutually supportive linkages between socio-economic and environmental sustainability. The 1991 Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in Transboudary Context provides an international legally binding instrument to prevent, reduce or control any potentially harmful transboundary environmental impact of proposed activities at an early planning stage. Particular focus is being given under this Convention to legal and administrative aspects as well as methodological issues of environmental impact assessment in a transboundary context. The future agenda of ILO work on assessment of "clean" and "environmentally sound" technologies would focus on assessing the capacity of such technologies to expand employment, ensure competitiveness and alleviate poverty. It also includes the identification of policies for the rapid diffusion of affordable, environment-friendly technologies as well as strategies for improving developing countries' access to such technologies available internationally. The science and technology programme of UNCTAD includes a series of activities on technology assessment. Such activities as building up data basis on technology assessment experts and institutions, and organizing various expert group meetings and regional workshops on technology assessment and forecasting, should be continued and strengthened. The Regional Commissions are also keen on promoting these activities in their respective regions. ESCWA, for instance, is keen on establishing a regional network of experts and institutions in this area, as well as setting up a data bank for new and advanced technologies which can be utilized in the region with special applications in promoting environmentally sound technologies. ECE is also planning to set up a network of focal points on environmental impact assessment for systematic exchange of information and facilitating contacts between policy makers in the region. C. Problems Encountered Technologies transferred into the ESCWA region, in general, have rarely been subjected to the required degree of appraisal in terms of their economic, social and environmental impact. Moreover, the lack of information about trends in technological development have often resulted in the transfer of inadequate technologies, or technologies destined for early replacement due to their harmful environmental effects. Technology assessment and risk evaluation conducted in the region have had varying degrees of thoroughness; and often little or no follow-up action was taken to ensure an accurate assessment of environmental impact during later stages of a project's life cycle. In the ESCAP region, a World Bank study identified that the most serious setback of the present procedures for environmental impact assessments was the minimal contribution to actual implementation of environmental control measures. A possible major problem is the fact that projects are often launched by the government or state-owned companies. No uniform approach to transboundary information exchange seems to have been followed, with diverse experience in the field. There is a need for new approaches which could serve as a guidance to competent national authorities in the practical application of relevant provisions of the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context. In telecommunication, the very fast rate of change in technology tends to undermine the value of technology assessment in the medium to long term. This might be true of other technological fields as well. However, the fast pace of technological changes, in some cases, would be the very reason for the need of technology assessment, so that both the decision makers and potential users/beneficiaries are kept up-to-date on the latest range of technology options and expected consequences. D. Conclusions and Recommendations It is generally recognized that technology assessment is a relatively under-developed area and that more work may be called for. It also gives the United Nations system an opportunity to better coordinate activities in this area from early stages. The development of a well-coordinated work programme for the United Nations system is needed, with a clearly identified global focal point for technology assessment in the United Nations system, as well as allocation of responsibilities. In order to promote inter-agency collaboration and joint action in the area of technology, the IACSD decided on the establishment of a small ad hoc inter-agency task force on technology assessment. One area in which the United Nations agencies can cooperate would be to develop guidelines for technology assessment, including environmental impact and risk assessment concerning particular technologies in question. Once such guidelines become available, they should be promoted not only to government institutions and executive agencies involved in technical assistance programmes but also to private enterprises, farmers and other users of technologies. WIPO, in collaboration with other relevant agencies like UNIDO and FAO, could develop a Patent Watch Service for specific fields in demand. Such service should function as an "Alert System" for new technologies. The primary aim of interagency co-operation in technology assessment will be to create or strengthen national capabilities by moving away from narrow sectoral approaches. It also requires close co-operation with business and industry dealing with technological development. UNESCO-initiated regional networks in the field of science and technology policy are well placed to serve as the regional focal points for technology assessment, in cooperation with the respective Regional Commissions. VII. COLLABORATIVE ARRANGEMENTS AND PARTNERSHIPS A. Concept The promotion of long-term collaborative arrangements between enterprises of developed and developing countries is recognized to be essential for the development, transfer and dissemination of environmentally sound technologies. The important role of joint ventures and foreign direct investments is referred to in the context of technology transfer, which should be mutually beneficial to both suppliers and recipients of technologies. B. Progress Achieved There has been some innovations within the United Nations system with respect to co-operative arrangements in promoting technology transfer. The development of guidelines and frameworks drawn up to encourage technology cooperation among developing countries, led to a greater number of new South-South co-operative arrangements of institutions. FAO is making use of these arrangements to promote transfer technology among developing countries, e.g. through the organization of the regional TCDC workshop on "Water management technologies for arid climates" held in early 1994. A handbook of successful partnerships involving non- governmental organizations, industry and local communities to develop sustainable industrial development is being prepared jointly by UNEP with Tuffs University and the Prince of Wales Business Forum, and will be published in 1994. In ESCAP region, interesting collaborative arrangements have involved public and private interagency cooperation. While government institutions have provided financial and legal incentives, private sector has been involved in technological innovations, information dissemination, trade of technologies and human resource development. One channel of technology transfer that has been attempted in a few Asian countries with varying degrees of success is to encourage and assist R&D collaboration between enterprises in different countries. This could lead to successful commercialization of well developed R&D results in the recipient country. Advantages include higher rate of local adaptability and the low cost of such R&D collaboration compared to the actual technology transfer itself. In the case of vaccine technology promoted by WHO, developing stable long-term partnerships between the exporters of bulk vaccine and the potential importers, were considered as the best mechanism to clarify sharing of responsibilities for ensuring the quality of the final product. ECE monitors developments in industrial cooperation and joint ventures. Its database on joint ventures contains information on companies which indicate in their statutory documents that they are engaged in activities such as the development of environmental protection technologies, sanitation of land, sea, air and water, disposal or processing of waste, and consulting and engineering in these areas. The Transnational Corporations programme of UNCTAD aims at providing policy recommendations and assist host countries, and at attracting and maintaining an increased flow of capital, technology skills and entrepreneurship. C. Problems Encountered Specific programmes or mechanisms to promote long-term collaborative arrangements and partnerships of either North-South or South-South nature between enterprises, are still in shortage. It is only in the recent years that the private sector has been given increased attention. The potential contributions that can be made by transnational corporations have not yet been fully explored. Much remains to be done in collecting and disseminating case studies, encouraging policy measures in favor of joint ventures and international partnerships. D. Conclusions and Recommendations Foreign direct investment is a major source of technology transfer. In this respect, the importance of sound macro- economic policies to attract foreign direct investment cannot be over-emphasized. Competent United Nations agencies should assist governments to provide an policy environment which protects the investor, induces free flow of capital, as well as provides the investor with adequate information on which to base decisions. Exchange of information and experiences on initiating and maintaining technology-oriented collaborative arrangements and partnerships between enterprises, should be encouraged among the agencies involved in those activities. A global focal point should be designated to facilitate this task, in cooperation with other interested agencies. Regional Commissions could act as regional nodes in collecting and disseminating information. There is a need to collect and disseminate case studies on successful collaborative arrangements and partnerships in the private sector, including those involving transnational corporations. More emphasis should be given and support be provided to those technology-related activities which enable firms and industries in the developing countries to interact directly with businesses in the industrialized countries, in the form of joint venture, exhibitions, exchange of visits, investment forums, etc.
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Date last posted: 1 December 1999 12:18:30