Info Service on Climate Change (June12/01)
Technology Committee needs to understand meaning of technology transfer
Kuala Lumpur, 4 June (Hilary Chiew) - The Technology Executive Committee (TEC) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) needs to have a proper understanding of technology transfer in order to play its role effectively.
Commenting on the question on the role to be played by the TEC in promoting an enabling environment for technology collaboration, development and transfer, Professor Carlos Correa of the South Centre said one way to define the TEC’s role is to understand what is meant by technology transfer.
Speaking from the floor after the presentation by a panel of six representatives from international organisations and the private sector, Correa referred to the findings of Professor Kelly Gallagher of Tufts University on the China situation, which indicated that some companies were not able to get a licence (to the technology) but could get the products.
Correa said what developing countries need is access to the technologies, not the products or equipments, in order to produce them by themselves.
These comments were made at the 3rd meeting of the TEC, held on May 28 in Bonn, Germany. The meeting ended on 29 May.
On the first day of the meeting, a thematic dialogue on “Enabling environments and barriers to technology development and transfer” was held to also help identify challenges and opportunities, good practices and lessons learned from creating viable enabling environments, and identify possible follow up actions.
The six panellists on the discussion on “Enabling environments and barriers to technology development and transfer” were Mark Radka, Chief of the Energy Branch, of the Division of Technology, Industry and Economics of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Joe Bradlley, Head of the Intergovernmental Organizations and Partnership Section, of the World Intellectual Properties Organisation (WIPO); Franck Jesus, senior climate change specialist of the Global Environment Facility (GEF); Pedro Roffe, senior associate of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), Sara Easterbrook of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and Jean-Yves Caneill of the International Chamber of Commerce.
The thematic dialogue was borne out of the controversy over the intellectual properties rights (IPRs) issue debated at the 2nd TEC meeting in February this year which saw TEC member from Sudan, Mr Nagmeldin Elhassan calling for the TEC to address the IPR issue as to whether it was a barrier to technology transfer in developing countries. Developed country members especially from the United States, Mr. Rick Duke and Mr. Kunihiko Shimada of Japan were reluctant to have the matter discussed by the TEC, with Japan insisting that the proper forum was WIPO.
Prior to the panel discussion, three papers were presented on the topic including one titled “Barriers and incentives for the cross-border transfer of clean technologies” by Gallagher from the Energy and Environmental Policy at the Fletcher School, Tufts University.
Gallagher’s presentation was largely based on her research for her forthcoming book titled “No Great Wall: The globalisation of Cleaner Energy Technologies”. Focusing on four key technologies: solar photo-voltaic, coal gasification, natural gas turbines and batteries for advanced vehicles, she concluded that IPRs are surprisingly not a major barrier.
She said Chinese firms have generally been able to acquire all technologies they wanted through licenses except for the latest gas turbines and hybrid electrical vehicles control technologies and they have access to final products in all cases.
To this, Correa from the South Centre referred to a study by Tsinghua University in China on access to technologies in the area of wind power. He said one of the main conclusions of the study was that IPRs affect the conditions for access to technologies, including through high costs and restrictive terms in licensing agreements. The study also showed empirical evidence of how IPRs are a barrier. He stressed that it would be important to have TEC look at this study and think about possible solutions.
WIPO’s Joe Bradlley cited a study which purportedly concluded that there is evidence that IPRs are an enabler of technology transfer but not a barrier. He said besides IPRs, developing technical know-how and absorptive capacities are important which would come from a supportive regulatory environment and investment in education and capacity building in managing IPRs and negotiate licensing.
Correa also sought clarification about the study mentioned by Bradely, saying that it was in fact commissioned by the WIPO Secretariat and conducted by a consultant of its choice. Therefore, the conclusions were that of the consultant and had not been endorsed by the WIPO Member States.
If the conclusion is that IPRs were not a barrier, it is incorrect, challenged Correa, adding that by definition IPRs create a prohibition, an obstacle to access the protected technology and if it is not overcome, there is no access.
In response, Bradlley concurred with Correa and confirmed that the study he had referred to has yet to be endorsed by WIPO members.
The TEC meeting was chaired by Mr Gabriel Blanco of Argentina and Mr Antonio Pfluger of Germany, who is its vice-Chair. The TEC held its first meeting last year in September.
At the 16th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) in Cancun in 2010, Parties agreed to establish the TEC comprising of 20 expert members (with 9 members from Annex 1 countries and 11 members from non-Annex 1 countries). The Cancun decision tasked the TEC to implement the framework for meaningful and effective actions to enhance the implementation of technology transfer in developing countries.
At the 2nd TEC meeting an agreement on a two year rolling work plan for 2012 to 2013 was reached.
At the 3rd meeting of the TEC, several follow-up actions were decided after the thematic dialogue. They were:
1. Creation of a TEC task team led by the Chair and vice-Chair to coordinate the following activities:
the outcomes of the thematic dialogue on enabling environments and
barriers to technology development and transfer;
observer organisations will be invited to submit their views to the
UNFCCC Secretariat, by end of July 2012, on ways to promote the enabling
environments and to address barriers to technology development and
transfer, including on the role the TEC could possibly play in this
The two-day meeting also continued the deliberation on the various tasks of the rolling work plan (2012-2013).
Scope of work on an inventory of technology roadmaps
It was agreed that the task team should further define and clarify the concept of the technology roadmaps and actions plans used in the context of the TEC.
It should address both technologies for adaptation and mitigation.
There are many efforts made on roadmaps and action plans regarding
technology for mitigation, for instance in energy, industry, transport
sectors. However, similar practices in adaptation related sectors
might be limited;
The TEC also agreed that the key deliverables would be an online open access, searchable database of technology roadmaps and action plans developed within TT: Clear (Technology Transfer Clearinghouse) website and a background paper to present an overview of the technology road-mapping exercises as well as initial analysis on gaps and associated barriers.
It further identified several activities accompanied by timeline this year, stressing that the inventory should not be considered as just a one-time task but should be a living product and regularly updated.
Among the activities are a call for inputs from relevant stakeholders on existing practices of technology roadmaps and action plans by July 31; collect relevant technology roadmaps and actions plans from publicly available sources and inputs from relevant stakeholders by August 31; convert the inventory into an online searchable database available at TT:Clear website by early September; organise a small expert meeting with relevant organisations to share experiences in developing and using technology roadmaps and seek collaboration in supporting the work of TEC in this area by September; prepare a background paper to present an overview of technology roadmaps as well as initial analysis on the gaps and associated barriers by October; and organise a TEC side event session in Doha which could provide opportunity to introduce the inventory of technology roadmaps to Parties and relevant stakeholders, with a view to collecting feedback and further enhancing efforts on this area as needed.
It was decided that a task force will be established to lead the tasks (mentioned above) with support from the Secretariat. Its membership will be discussed later. The task force may invite experts to support the group in conducting its work as needed and it will work mainly via electronic means, including email, teleconference, etc. Face-to-face meeting could be organised if deemed necessary.
Technology information platform
On the technology information platform, possible key features to be implemented were divided into short-term and mid-term periods.
Short-term (2012 to early 2013) – updated section on Technology Needs Assessments (TNA) with enhanced accessibility to information embedded in TNA reports including TNA focal points of developing countries; new feature for ‘calling for inputs’ from international, regional and national levels through e.g. notification sent to Parties, observers, outside stakeholders; new inventories of technology roadmaps and relevant work of institutions in the technology area; updated section on the Technology Mechanism to present information on progress of its implementation; updated technology portal section, including information on relevant events, documents and publications, technology inventory (technology for adaptation), project inventory.
Long-term (2013) – development of metadata set and common classification scheme to capture inherent linkages among various information sources; and explore ways to strengthening linkages with relevant institutions, such as the Registry (for mitigation actions of developing countries and support needed) and Climate Technologies Centre and Network (CTCN).
Modalities on linkages with other relevant institutional arrangement
Members deliberated on the linkage with the CTCN including having exchanges and updates at each other’s meetings, including identifying available technologies of the CTCN.
Linkages with the financial mechanism such as the Green Climate Fund , the Adaptation Committee, and the Poznan Strategic Programme should be explored, bearing in mind that most of these institution are not operationalised yet and therefore focus should be on the TEC work plan. However, members also preferred a differentiation in the level of interaction among these institutions.
The members also agreed that another meeting be held either after the UNFCCC inter-sessional in Bangkok in August or later in Bonn this year.