United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Mr. Wu Hongbo

General Assembly Consultative Workshops on:
“Development, transfer and dissemination of clean
and environmentally sound technologies in developing countries”
Workshops 1 and 2
Technology needs of developing countries and options to address them
30 April and 1 May 2013
Remarks by Mr. Wu Hongbo
Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very much heartened by the opening statement of the Chair. These events are
indeed meant as an opportunity for interactive debate amongst member states, Major
Groups, and UN System representatives, supported by evidence and proposals
presented by the distinguished panels of experts that have been put together.
The Department of Economic and Social Affairs has been privileged to work closely
with the Office of the President of the General Assembly, which is convening these
events. And we too look forward to updating our knowledge and understanding on
clean and environmentally sound technology issues through our deliberations in these
Workshops.
These first two workshops – today and tomorrow – aim primarily to gather evidence
and views from experts from academic, practitioner or other stakeholder communities,
to inform discussions among Member States of technology needs of developing
countries and options to address them.
The next two workshops, to be held on 30 and 31 May, will focus on international
technological capacity building initiatives, looking at successful examples as well as
shortcomings, and options – including that of a technology facilitation mechanism –
for enhancing the development, transfer and dissemination of clean and
environmentally sound technologies to developing countries.
In particular, Workshop 3 will provide an opportunity for international organisations
to present and discuss their activities, achievements and needs in the area of
technological capacity building and technology development, transfer and
dissemination more broadly
Today, workshop 1will address science and technology needs and options for poverty
eradication and sustainable development, focusing first on the case of agriculture and
then moving on to energy and, in particular, renewable energy technologies in the
afternoon.. Tomorrow, in Workshop 2, we will discuss and share views on successful
models for clean and environmentally sound innovation and technology diffusion in
developing countries, and forms of international cooperation to foster innovation and
technology diffusion for sustainable development.
In all four of the Workshops, but especially in the first two, our aspiration will be a
triple one. First to gather factual evidence and views on what is actually happening on
the ground in terms of new technological capabilities arising in developing countries.
In short, the success stories – however few and far between they may be. We would
like to get a clear understanding on which good examples can be replicated in other
developing country situations, subject to what policy reforms and institutional
strengthening.
Second, what genuine difficulties and gaps developing countries continue to face in
importing or generating environmentally sound technologies that they need? In what
ways are global developments, not least the ongoing economic crises and malaise in
developed economies, adding yet new complications to global efforts to foster
technology uptake in and transfer to developing countries?
Finally, what feasible options exist for enhancement of existing and possibly
development of new mechanisms to support efforts of developing countries to
acquire, adapt and develop technologies to advance sustainable development? In this
respect, where do the priorities lie? To be able to make good use of a particular
technology transferred, a country may need to have a range of complementary
capabilities, but how can international cooperation be well-targeted and prioritized to
build up key capabilities in a given context? Ideally, to be innovators, countries would
need to master the full continuum of capabilities from basic science to R&D to the
widespread diffusion of innovation. Yet, countries are starting with very different
existing capabilities, so strategies for strengthening innovation systems will differ.
It would also be important, from our point of view, to get a clearer picture of the
relative importance of different facets of this issue: for example, the relative
importance of barriers to affordable access to key technologies for sustainable
development, versus capacity limitations to effective absorption and efficient
utilization of such technologies. Proper diagnosis will be critical to identifying the
most effective interventions going forward.
What does it take for countries to move from being predominantly importers and
imitators of imported technologies to being genuine innovators? What lessons can
other developing countries learn from the success stories? And what new
technological challenges face countries as they approach the technological frontier?
How much of the technology access problem has to do with intellectual property
rights, how much to lack of effective competition in technology markets, how much
to other causes? We intend to have a discussion of this set of issues in a session in
Workshop 3.
Last but not least, we need to take stock of the important changes that have taken
place in the world economy since the first Rio Conference in 1992. Transfer of
technology continues to merit discussion, but there is an ever widening space for
genuine technology cooperation and collaboration, North-South as well as South-
South. It would be good, I believe, if our experts could help us get a little more
granularity on how industrial and technological capabilities are evolving in
developing countries and what new opportunities this trend may present.
These are some of the issues and questions that are being proposed for discussion, and
are also articulated in the expanded Concept Note circulated by the Office of the
President of the General Assembly.
And I too look forward to what promises to be a fruitful discussion.