Article by Guest Contributor: Veronika Shirokova
On November 9th and 10th, representatives from 35 countries and various UN organizations met in New Delhi to discuss the establishment of a new Technology Mechanism, based on the recommendations of the Expert Group on Technology Transfer (EGTT). The new Technology Mechanism includes the creation of two key bodies: a Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and a Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN).
The TEC would function on an international level, providing advice to the Conference of Parties (COP) and setting overall policy directives for technology development and transfer. There was disagreement among participants regarding the nature of the TEC’s advisory role. Some felt the TEC should serve as a research group, while others felt that it should help assess activities eligible for funding by the COP.
The CTCN would operate on technology transfer initiatives across all levels of governance and all sectors of the economy. The meeting in Delhi identified four main functions for this operative arm of the new Technology Mechanism:
- To assist governments to identifying technology needs and priorities.
- To support governments in the preparation and implementation of technology transition. This includes the provision of in-country technical assistance and training.
- To facilitate technological innovation and diffusion.
- To foster national capacity-building for technological development, support, and cooperation.
Participants also discussed the challenges for technology development and transfer, most importantly finance and intellectual property rights. They recalled the commitment of Parties to generate US $100 billion per annum by 2020, and noted that finance remains the main barrier to technology transfer in developing countries. Many felt that the new Technology Mechanism should advise the Finance Mechanism on resource allocation, through the TEC’s research, and consideration of proposals developed by the CTCN.
Intellectual property rights (IPR), proved to be an issue at the meeting, and in-depth discussion was postponed until Cancun. India’s Minister of Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, commented that differences of scale make IPR less problematic in the transfer of adaptation technology than mitigation technology. Participants agreed that public domain technologies should be considered while a resolution on IPR is being reached.
According to a report by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), IPR’s role in technology transfer is contentious because of a disparity between opinions held by developed and developing countries. Annex I countries, comprised of industrialized nations that are members of the OECD and have economies in transition, claim that IPR facilitate technology transfer. Non-Annex I countries, comprised mostly of developing countries, feel that strong IPR and their associated costs act as a barrier to access, and prevent modifications that would make the technology more suitable for local needs. TERI recommends measures that would bind both governments and companies in developed countries to transferring climate relevant technologies. This can include legal enforcement, incentives, and compulsory licensing.
Overall, participants were satisfied with the framework established for the new Technology Mechanism and looked forward to continuing discussion in technology transfer at the COP16. While the meeting represents considerable progress on the issue of technology transfer, the chair’s summary and subsequent press releases failed to outline the specific positions taken by participants and negotiating parties. Information on which states send delegates to the meeting was also unavailable. This calls into question the transparency of the negotiation process and leads to a subsequent disconnect between citizens and their representatives.