TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Apr13/01)
01 April 2013
Third World Network  

UNFCCC Technology Committee discusses key issues on technology transfer

Geneva, 1 April (Meena Raman) – The Technology Executive Committee (TEC) under the UNFCCC held its fifth meeting in Bonn on 26-27 March, 2013.

Among the key matters addressed by the TEC were the following: collaboration with other relevant institutional arrangements under and outside the UNFCCC, thematic dialogue on enabling environments for and barriers to technology development and transfer, technology needs assessments, technology roadmaps and technology briefs.

The TEC is one of the components of the Technology Mechanism established by the UNFCCC’s Conference of Parties (COP) in Cancun (2010) and is comprised of 20 representatives (9 from developed and 11 from developing countries. The other component of the mechanism is the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). The Chair of the TEC for 2013 is Antonio Plfuger (Germany), while Gabriel Blanco (Argentina) was elected as Vice-Chair.

Collaboration with institutional arrangements

Mark Radka of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) gave an update on the current status of the CTCN. The COP in Doha last year, decided that UNEP (as leader of a consortium of 11 partner institutions), be selected as the host of the CTC for an initial term of five years.  

Radka informed the TEC members that the CTC would be located in a new UN building in Copenhagen, with the costs being covered by the Danish Government. He also said that the host country agreement is being concluded. On the staffing of the CTC, Radka said that they will come from UNEP and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO); the recruitment process was underway.

He added that the Advisory Board (AB) of the CTCN was not yet fully constituted. However, the first meeting of the AB is scheduled for 14-15 May in Copenhagen, and will be open to observers.  Radka also said that two regional expert dialogues have been planned to be held before the meeting of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies in June this year, and national designated entities (NDEs) are to be involved. Good NDEs are essential for a well- functioning CTCN, he told members further.

(In Durban in 2011, it was agreed that the CTCN will receive requests from developing countries through their NDEs. Developing countries were requested by the UNFCCC Secretariat to nominate their NDEs responsible for the development and transfer of technologies by 29 March.).

Radka also informed members of the TEC that funding for the start-up period of the CTCN will come from the European Commission ($6.5 million), Denmark ($5.2 million), Canada ($ 2.5 million), Japan ($ 2.5 million) and the United States ($1 million). He said that a financial mechanism to mobilize sufficient, sustained, and predictable resources is needed.

Responding to Radka, Jukka Usukainen (Finland) said that the CTCN is the operational arm of the TEC and its outreach is most important. When mobilising activities, UNEP and its partners being global and huge, must guarantee presence in regions with staff and manpower. It needs to give confidence to the regions that it is serving them. He added that the COP guidance is clear that the Global Environment Facility (GEF) should finance the CTCN and it was frustrating that this was still unclear.  

Nagmeldin G. Elhassan (Sudan) said it would be good for the TEC members and the AB of the CTCN to have a one-day joint meeting.

Gabriel Blanco (Argentina) stressed that nowhere in the COP decision was there provision for regional centres. Any regional institution which wants to be part of CTCN could be part of the ‘Network’.

The TEC members were also given updates by representatives from the Standing Committee on Finance, Adaptation Committee and the LDC expert group (LEG).

Vice-chair Blanco proposed that a small taskforce of the TEC be constituted, comprised of 4 persons to be tasked to identify priority areas for collaboration and to propose modalities/options to engage with other bodies. The ideas are to be brought to the next TEC meeting for further discussion. It was agreed that TEC members from the US, Germany, Sudan and Iran would constitute the taskforce.

Areas for further collaboration with organisations outside the Convention

Members were reminded by the Secretariat that following the TEC’s third meeting, a call for inputs on activities undertaken by accredited observer organisations relevant to the TEC was launched. The outcomes of this call were considered by the TEC at its previous (fourth) meeting. The input received assisted the TEC in identifying possible partner organisations for undertaking any future collaborative activities. The Secretariat presented an overview of the possible partner organisations which could support the TEC in implementing its workplan.

Concerns were raised by TEC members from China and Sudan that some observer organisations from developing countries who had responded to the TEC’s call for inputs, were not considered. This, they mentioned, included organisations such as the South Centre and the Third World Network. Other TEC members from the US and Finland were of the view that the form of engagement with organisations should be decided after the functions that needed to be performed were clear.

Vice-chair Blanco also invited observer organisations to give their views. Several organisations took the floor, including a representative from the Third World Network who expressed disappointment that developing country organisations were not listed as possible partner organisations.

The TEC members on the second and final day of the meeting, met first thing in the morning behind closed doors (without the observers), to discuss how to proceed on this issue. Following their meeting, Vice-chair Blanco explained the result of their decision. He said that the TEC wanted to engage observers in a much deeper way in its work. He added that the topics for the workplan for 2012-2013 was first going to be defined, following which the kind of modalities for engagement with observers will be looked into. Among the modalities could involve submissions, as well as in-session and intersessional participation. Once the TEC defines the topics and modalities, they will open an invitation to all observers on their interest in participating in the TEC work, he added. The topics for further work will be defined at the next meeting of the TEC.

Thematic dialogue on enabling environment and barriers  

The COP in Doha last year, requested the TEC, in elaborating its future workplan, to initiate issues relating to enabling environments and barriers to technology development and transfer. This included among other issues, intellectual property rights (IPRs)
“which were identified as an area for which more clarity would be needed on their role in the development and transfer of climate technologies based upon evidence on a case by case basis.”


Kunihiko Shimada (Japan) suggested focus on economic barriers to technology development and transfer and said financing and capacity in developing countries were key issues. Wang Can (China) reminded TEC members that there was agreement to address the IPR issue and there is need for further clarity on the issue. TEC members from Iran and Kazakhstan also supported the need to address the IPR issue.

In response, Griffin Thompson (the US) cautioned against the cherry-picking of issues and the fragmenting of topics related to the enabling environment for technology development and transfer. He suggested waiting for the outcome of the thematic dialogue on research, development and demonstration before deciding to produce any product on the enabling environment. Nagmeldin G. Elhassan (Sudan) said that the barriers to technology transfer are not just IPRs and there are many, where analysis is needed. Different barriers have different recommendations, he added further.

Krzysztof Klincewicz (Poland) exhorted whoever had a specific example where IPR was a barrier to technology transfer to step forward and provide the evidence. He complained that he had not received responses to his queries in this regard. Griffin Thompson (the US) said that it is important to refer to the Technology Needs Assessments (TNAs) which were products of developing countries and address the “real world barriers on public policy” and not “conjure up new barriers”.

In response, Wang Can (China) said that all the barriers had to be solved and each issue should be investigated further to find solutions. In response to the Polish member for specific examples where IPRs were a barrier, he said he did not see any call by the TEC for submissions on this issue. Wang said may be it was a good idea to call for submissions on whether IPRs are a barrier or enablers to technology transfer. He said a workshop on this could also be arranged. 

Vice-chair, Gabriel Blanco (Argentina), said that it seemed that members want to address the barriers identified in TNAs. He proposed that one of the follow-up activities could be for a comprehensive analysis on information from various sources, including TNA synthesis reports and submissions from observers. This could be made available by the secretariat.

Several TEC members including from the US and Ireland suggested focusing on adaptation technologies in relation to enabling environment and barriers. Matthew Kennedy (Ireland) said that there was no value in looking at mitigation and related barriers as others across the UN had already done the work. Thompson (the US) agreed with Kennedy and stressed the need to focus on adaptation and the TNAs.  

In response, Wang Can (China) said that the added value of the TEC is to deliver policy recommendations to the COP, based on good reports. Nagmeldin G. Elhassan (Sudan) said that TEC members should not prejudge what information exists on mitigation. It is important to consider the TNAs and the barriers both in relation to mitigation and adaptation, he added further.

Vice-chair Gabriel Blanco (Argentina) said that following informal consultations among TEC members, the suggestion is to request the Secretariat to compile and synthesise the information contained in the second round of TNAs (see below for further details) with a focus on barriers and enablers to technology development and transfer. Based on this information, the next meeting of the TEC will decide on the organisation of further dialogue or workshop on lessons learnt from relevant institutions as appropriate, with the focus on addressing the barriers. Members agreed to this suggestion.

Technology Needs Assessment (TNAs)

The TEC invited UNEP to give a background on the TNAs. Mark Radka briefed the members that a TNA is only a process, and there is an inherent risk that developing countries differ in their capability in preparing them. (The work on TNAs under the Poznan Strategic Programme is supported by the GEF and implemented by UNEP and is about to be finalised. The project aims to support 36 non-Annex 1 Parties in conducting their TNA reports. The first round of TNAs involved 15 developing countries while the second round encompassed 21 countries.)

The UNFCCC Secretariat also conducted two surveys to collect information on the status of the implementation of the results of TNAs as identified and reported in the first round of TNAs, including success stories and factors and this information was also provided to TEC members. Further, there was also a background paper provided to members on “inter-linkages between TNAs and national and international climate policy making processes.”

Kunihiko Shimada (Japan) suggested a workshop and face-to-face meetings with financiers (multilateral development banks and private financiers) on how to overcome weaknesses faced in the implementation of TNAs. This was also supported by the member from the US, who added that TEC could give strong messages on the implementation of TNAs.

Nagmeldin G. Elhassan (Sudan) said the GEF should continue to finance the development of TNAs and the TEC should address the barriers so that more TNAs could be financed. Wang Can (China) wanted the TEC to consider what policy suggestions could be made from the TNA experience for the COP.

Chair Pfluger (Germany) said that following the various proposals, there will be further actions for follow up at the next meeting.

Technology Roadmaps

The TEC at its fourth meeting agreed on the terms of reference for a background paper to be prepared on technology roadmaps (TRMs) for adaptation and mitigation. The consultant presented highlights from the background paper. The working definition of a TRM in the context of the TEC was set out as follows in the background paper: “A TRM serves as a coherent basis for specific technology development and transfer activities, providing a common (preferable quantifiable) objective, time-specific milestones and a consistent set of concrete actions; developed jointly with relevant stakeholders, who commit to their roles in the TRM implementation.” 

Among the findings in the paper were that the road-mapping process is at least as important as the resulting roadmap; there is a clear gap in TRMs relating to adaptation technologies; the majority of TRMs are produced in Annex 1 countries or by international organisations, with very few authored by or targeted at non-Annex 1 countries; the vast majority of TRMs have a national or international scope; there is a clear need for guidance in order to improve the quality of TRMs.

The TEC was asked to consider specific next steps and asked to address the following: identification of gaps related to adaptation technologies road-mapping practices; the expert meeting on TRMs and whether the background paper could be made public. (One day before the TEC meeting on 25 March, the TEC had held an expert meeting on TRMs in the area of adaptation in Bonn.)

Nagmeldin G. Elhassan (Sudan) said there is need to work on the basis of analysis coming from the TNAs. The work of the TEC needed to be useful and support practitioners of adaptation on the ground. There is need to see how TRMs can be useful for the implementation of National Adaptation Plans, he added. There is a gap in TRMs for adaptation, he said, adding further that indigenous technology is important but is not being used on a wider scale. In this regard, the TRM could be useful and there is need for guidance. The TRMs could also address vulnerable sectors and he proposed that the task-force of the TEC on TRMs continues its work.

Matthew Kennedy (Ireland) said a technology brief on key messages from the background paper on TRMs could be useful. Chair Antonio Pfluger (Germany) said that a brief could be good for communications but there is also need for a full background paper too. Wang Can (China), in relation to follow up activities said that if the target of the work is the governments, then there is need to think about lessons learnt from roadmaps, such as if there are good lessons. Seyed Mohamed Sadeghzadeh (Iran) said that the context of each country and region needed to be considered and more data was needed in this regard. Omedi M. Jura (Kenya) said there is need to look at the end-user and give further consideration to the real application of TRMs. He also added that TNAs cannot be ignored.

Chair Pfluger (Germany) suggested that a summary of the expert workshop held on 25 March be prepared in addition to having the background paper on the TRMs. There was also agreement to have a technical brief on TRMs for which further work is needed.

Nagmeldin G. Elhassan (Sudan) reiterated the need for the TEC to develop practical guidance for the development and use of TRMs in relation to National Adaptation Plans and TNAs.

Technology briefs

The TEC members also discussed the topics for the preparation of technology briefs (or technical papers). Following discussions, there was agreement that the various task-forces of the TEC (adaptation and TRMs) could propose topics for further consideration at the next meeting.

A representative from Climate Action Network also spoke during this session and proposed that ‘technology assessment’ be considered as a topic for a brief. She said that it was important to understand how technology assessment is different from TNAs and was needed to address the long-term impacts of technologies.

The next meetings of the TEC will be in June 26-28 and September 4-6, 2013.+