Commission on Sustainable Development Background Paper No. 11 Sixth Session 20 April - 1 May 1998 TECHNOLOGICAL COOPERATION AND ASSESSMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICIES FOR DEVELOPMENT Non-Governmental Steering Committee 1. The aim of science and technology is two-fold: (a) to examine the contribution of science and technology to the national objectives set by Government with civil society; (b) to ensure that science and technology inputs are taken into account in those developmental planning processes which search for means to implement the national objectives. 2. Development should not be synonymous with economic growth. It ought to be concerned with reduction of poverty, inequality, unemployment and underemployment, greater natural sovereignty and self reliance, and rational use of the environment leading to enhanced quality of life for all people. We have to consider development options against changing global northern consumption patterns. 3. In this environment, it seems logical to devote limited available scientific and technical resources largely to improving the local capacity to evaluate and bargain effectively for foreign technology. Associated research funding should be concentrated on applied studies in important areas which will yield net national benefits. Using such an approach, developing countries can ensure selection and importation of technology which maximizes the net social, economic and environmental benefits to the existing cultures of the country. Thus development should be on our terms. 4. Much technology is carelessly imported into most of our countries and clearly has negative impacts on foreign exchange, physical environment, skill creation, employment and social equality. One of the reasons for this is that we have no local consultancies which specialize in technology transfer. Therefore, we are dependant upon outside consultancies who do not necessarily understand our development goals and who are biased towards techniques available in their own countries. 5. Technologies imported from industrialized countries are largely transferred to our countries through contractual arrangements like direct investment in wholly-owned subsidiaries, licence agreements through imbalanced joint ventures or with local entrepreneurs and various turn-key projects. Although current subsidies are far from complete, it is suspected that effective returns on investment made by reputable foreign companies are many times declared profits due to excessive royalties, gross overpricing of tied intermediate imports, and transfer pricing by vertically integrated multi-national companies. 6. We need policies through which we can improve our bargaining capabilities through the development of technology assessment capacity, local engineering consultancies, closer control over legality of restrictive agreements and increased freedom to adapt imported technology to local requirements. 7. A Science and Technology Policy Analysis Assessment Unit would consist of part-time businessmen devoting direct and continuous attention on a part-time basis to science and technology affairs. An alternative approach is to create a small science and technology policy analysis unit which, in this area, would be the functional equivalent of a National Planning and Statistics Office. The principle functions of this group would be: (a) to save Cabinet's time by identifying issues, (b) to clarify them, (c) to canvas advice from diverse sources in Government and civil society, (d) to formulate and raise issues in terms suitable for Cabinet consideration and decision, (e) to monitor the implementation of whatever decisions are taken, (f) to observe the operation of national science and technology establishment to detect the need for change and formulate advice about appropriate responses. One suitable title for the group would be Office of Science and Technology (OST). 8. There are many obstacles to the better utilization of knowledge: (a) The minute number of qualified scientists and engineers in our countries. The bulk of qualified scientists and engineers in developing countries are not locals and they are probably ill-equipped by background to judge local problems and priorities from a national development perspective. (b) Lack of a comprehensive technical extension service to disseminate technologies which have been locally acknowledged as appropriate. (c) Lack of up-to-date information of internationally available techniques which are appropriate to our needs. 9. In principle, development of technological hardware is relatively straight forward, given funds and skills. Locally acceptable transfer of technology is much more difficult because it involves many cultural, psychological and personal adjustments by recipients. 10. Well meaning technical advisers have often been frustrated in their plans for technological change by what they saw as 'halfhearted' cooperation by local people. However, the adverse effects inhibiting development are to be found in the technical adviser rather than the local people who are most often demonstrating, in their polite manner, that the imposed development does not fit in with their local cultural standards. 11. It is important to first stress that the collection and delivery of scientific and technological information requires selection to suit local needs. In particular, information must be adapted to the scale and requirements of local cultures if it is ever to be effectively utilized. The nature of traditional cultural and their isolation makes an early childhood introduction to technical skills rare and thus throws an additional burden on current educational and communication networks when the introduction of industry is contemplated. Therefore, the elimination of barriers to better utilization of knowledge must take account of the following three phases: (a) A preparatory period for the people who are to be recipients of technology during which their expressed needs and views are collected and an assessment made of possible impacts of the technology sharing and transfer period of preparation of the specialists who are to facilitate the transfer of technology so that they are sensitively attuned to the way of life of the recipient people. (b) A period of follow-up and training of local people with manual in all relevant skills so that the practical project does not languish after its initiation and so that the same skills might be transmitted by locals to their fellow citizens. 12. All stakeholders likely to be affected by technological development must be included when knowledge is to be disseminated, and any process for eliminating barriers to the transfer of knowledge must have feedback and monitoring which gives positive proof that barriers have been eliminated. 13. In order to integrate science and technology into development we must: (a) Determine what is desirable development by communicating with those most likely to be affected by development. (b) Communicate among all stakeholders, politicians, public servants and all civil society likely to be affected by development. 14. There are seven major steps in making a technology assessment: STEP 1: Define the assessment task. Discuss relevant issues and any major problems. Establish scope of inquiry. Develop project ground rules. STEP 2: Describe relevant technologies. Describe major technology being assessed. Describe other technologies supporting the major technology. Describe technologies competitive to the major and supporting technologies. STEP 3: Develop State-of-Society Assumptions. Identify and describe major non-technological factors influencing the application of the relevant technologies. STEP 4: Identify impact areas. Ascertain those societal characteristics that will be most influenced by the application of the assessed technology. STEP 5: Make preliminary impact analysis. Trace and integrate the process by which the assessed technology makes its societal influence felt. STEP 6: Identify possible action options. Develop and analyze various programs for obtaining maximum public advantage from the assessed technology. STEP 7: Complete impact analysis. Analyze the degree to which each option would alter the specific societal impacts of the assessed technology discussed in step 5. 15. There are very few countries, if any, in the south that have institutionalized technology assessment. Yet the need for such institutionalization is indisputable as most southern countries' Governments still lack mechanisms for even the partial assessments required to license technology imported. 16. It is recommended that the 'eco-developmental' principles of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), South Pacific Commission (SPC), South Pacific Economic Cooperation (SPEC), CARICOM, CARIFTA and other Organization of American States (OAS) be adopted, keeping in mind the following general requirements: (a) Priority should be given to the basic real needs of the people, such as food, pure water, shelter and employment. (b) Development should aim for self-reliance rather than increasing dependence on outside groups or countries. (c) There must be a harmonious relationship between people and their environment that respects the requirements of human cultures and the ecological systems upon which natural productivity is based and that keeps open options for future generations. 17. Institutional Arrangements Needed for the Application of Science and Technology. The adoption of appropriate science policies, which determine the type and composition of scientific human resources and their supporting resources, will lead to an appropriate allocation of effort between applied research aimed at satisfying agreed goals and scientific surveillance of more expensive research conducted elsewhere. 'Technology policy' which is taken to mean that part of the development policy relating to the planning, organization and conduct of technological activities, is even more important at this time than 'science policy'. A sensible technology policy would be concerned with generating scientific and technological knowledge that could be applied in well defined problem areas in production sectors - industry, agriculture, extractive industry, etc, and social welfare sectors - health, housing, education, environment protection, employment, individual and mass consumption and so on. It is possible to more accurately define the objectives of technology policy in order to: (a) forecast their probabilities of success; (b) program their time schedules; (c) define criteria with which to evaluate their results; (d) attempt to take into account the 'uncertainty' which may come from scientific advances. 18. Students in tertiary education institutions should be taught the skills required to produce and implement technological policies in the context of their scientific and technological studies. This can be done by establishing courses of science and technology policy studies in all the universities. There is a great need to investigate alternative methods of training a supporting stratum of technicians who will buttress the efforts of our limited numbers of graduate engineers. Short intensive courses for the training of technicians would hasten the training of locals. What is lacking in basic educational achievements could be compensated for by the imaginative use of drill and practice techniques and/or computer aided instruction programs. To prevent the 'brain drain' to the north (richer societies), the countries to the south must establish their own reputable institutions of higher learning and resources and projects in which they can utilize their skills. 19. The five predominant areas for research are: (a) Energy (b) Communication and Transport (c) Agriculture and Fisheries (d) Physical Resource Management (e) Technologies Appropriate to Rural Life 20. Energy: There are concerns about the increasing costs of energy imported into our countries at a time when a local energy demand is rising. They would seek to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy resources and develop more efficient use of energy and its conservation. Isolated communities of less than 500 people, separated from others by vast land and sea distances, create a demand for small renewable energy generations which are ideally not dependant on fuel imports. Larger communities can also displace a limited part of their fossil fuel importations and phase them out by using renewable energy sources and using conservation measures. 21. The following are some examples of renewable energy mechanisms: (a) major and mini hydroelectric generators; (b) wind driven generators; (c) solar energy converters using thermal or photoelectric effects applied to desalination, cooling and heating needs; (d) wave energy converters; (e) producer and biomass systems; (f) systems for conversion of energy from crops; (g) geo and thermal energy converters; (h) systems using artificially created photosynthesis; (i) hydrogen fuel cells. 22. Energy can be conserved through: (a) architectural designs which reduce dependance on air-conditioning and powered ventilation; (b) redesigned energy distribution systems which optimize conserved energy. 23. There is a need conduct in-depth studies of the energy needs of rural communities (lighting, cooking, transport,etc.), current energy use patterns, and available resources (biomass, insulation, wind,etc.). 24. Communication and Transport: The four types of transport: shipping, air services, road and rail, are becoming very costly. Capital cost, fuel cost and maintenance costs are all extremely high. National telecommunications generally need to become more efficient and less costly. Research and development should be directed to lowering capital, operating and maintenance costs. For example, it would be worthwhile to investigate the use of a local crop, coconut to make alcohol which could replace up to 40% of petrol in auto engines, given sufficiently high prices of refined petroleum products. Alternatives to fossil fuels for ships and road vehicles should be explored. A good train system, where practicable, would greatly improve some of our countries' transport and communications. 25. Amphibian aircraft with an updated design would be useful. This would prevent the clearing of large tracts of land, often bearing virgin forests, coconut trees and agricultural land on which the cash income of many people depends, for land airstrips. It should be noted that small dirigibles are being 'rediscovered'. Telecommunications equipment should be redesigned for longer life in the salty humid atmospheres found in many countries in the south. 26. Agriculture and Fisheries: Throughout many countries in the south, agriculture and/or fisheries form the basis of local supplies, as well as supplying a large number of people with their own sources of cash income. Export earnings come largely from export of agriculturally derived commodities. Much of the internal commercial food demands could be met by many small-scale farmers clustered around major market centers. However, economic and social implications of policy need to be reconciled and researched to eliminate potential contradictions between departments of agriculture, marketing authorities and commodity boards. 27. Concern with producing crops suited to industrial exploitation and export meant that food production for internal market use was long neglected. However, population increase and the sectorial and spatial relocation of the population demand refocusing of attention on food supplies and distribution. Two areas require attention: (a) the functioning of intermediaries between producer and consumer in marketing produce, and, (b) the use of post-harvest technologies in ensuring a greater supply volume and smaller seasonal variations in supply. 28. Attention needs to be directed to both storage features and to processing of products acceptable to consumers. The food preferences of the consumers ought to be recognized. If food imports are to be reduced, local foods need to be marketed in a form acceptable to the consumer. These days, a premium is placed on readily available, storage and quickly prepared foods. 29. More research is needed to determine: (a) what are the existing food distribution systems operating within the towns and linking towns to urban areas? (b) what is the economic role of the indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in these systems? (c) what are the current Government policies towards indigenous involvement in the distributive systems, and do Government policies and regulations restrict or encourage such involvement? (d) what are the developmental implications of Government policies regarding the increased participation of indigenous groups in the distributive systems? 30. Basic research is also needed on all aspects of production and product-disposal. Specifically, attention needs to be directed to market participation by subsistence producers who are the vast majority of farmers. The trend towards support of large commercial estates as key elements in production and of land development requires evaluation. Agriculture is still regarded as one of our major problem areas, despite the relatively great research efforts aimed at improving agriculture. Research problems include: (a) the need for increased production for subsistence and export; (b) the need for less expensive tools and implements; (c) better techniques for conservation of soil; (e) more efficient post-harvest storage of crops and catches of fish; especially cheap, effective refrigeration and better links to markets; (f) more appropriate fishing boats and fishing techniques; (h) pest control - it is felt that biological control would have a long term superiority over chemical control methods. 31. Physical Resource Management: The ecosystems of developing countries are little understood. Most Governments have developed Environmental Ministries to address such issues. However, steps still need to be taken to develop greater indigenous expertise. Physical resources fit into four categories: (a) mineral resources; (b) solid and liquid waste management; (c) land management; (d) hydrological issues (water harvesting, etc.). 32. Technologies Appropriate to Rural Life: The majority of the population of developing countries live in rural areas and approximately two billion people do not have access to energy. Centers of rural research should be coordinated for the dissemination and adoption of techniques available elsewhere. They can also serve as talent and technology banks. The policies already discussed in all the preceding paragraphs must also be applicable to the rural areas to slow down urban drift, i.e. the services (water, sanitation, health, employment etc.) must be in the rural areas.
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Date last posted: 8 December 1999 15:15:30