United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Workshop 1 Closing Remarks by the Acting President of the General Assembly

General Assembly Consultative Workshops on:
Workshop 1
Technology needs of developing countries and options to address them
30 April
CLOSING REMARKS
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
The first Workshop on technology needs of developing countries and options to address
them has delivered what was expected. We were provided with a comprehensive
panorama of developments - what is happening on the ground in terms of actual
technology development and deployment, what difficulties continue to exist in accessing
and adapting technologies to local needs, what are some of the challenges we face in
scaling up key technologies for sustainable development, and what are some of the
options for addressing them.
The focus was clearly on poverty reduction, especially in the morning session where we
discussed agricultural technologies and the technology needs of developing countries to
provide food security while ensuring sustainable management of land and water. The
need to adapt to climate change heightens the challenges facing developing country
agriculture.
Our experts presented a broad understanding of technology in the context of sustainable
development. A point was made that, for instance in agriculture, much of the technology
to develop sustainably is there. Much local knowledge of sustainable practices is actually
undervalued, as was clear from the example of the information provided by extension
services in some countries of Africa.
We heard many emphasize the importance of holistic solutions – not focusing only on
production technology improvements on the farm but also considering how to improve
the whole agricultural value chain – including post-harvest technologies, marketing, as
well as key infrastructure for market access like rural roads.
Also, technology uptake is closely intertwined with finance, capacity building and
training.
Technology solutions in agriculture are usually localized to specific climatic, agroecological,
social, economic and cultural contexts. There is not ‘one size fits all’
technology solution for sustainable food security and agricultural development. At the
same time, farmers that aim to serve commercial markets, including international
markets, may need to conform to international norms and standards. We heard that the
labelling landscape is a very crowded and confusing one, and developing country
agricultural sectors may need help in navigating it and linking to global best practice.
We have also heard again echoes of some of the familiar debates. For example the
importance of diversity and resilience in the agricultural technologies vs. monocultures
which some believe are promoted by markets. The emphasis on nutrition security by
some vs. the concern that this might be taking attention away from basic question of
access to food and sufficient calories.
In the afternoon, we heard interesting ideas on how to foster greater diffusion of already
existing energy technologies that can simultaneous meet development and sustainability
goals.
We heard that there is a range of technology needs and challenges. For some
technologies, the challenge is to accelerate transfer of commercial and emerging
technologies, often with a need to adapt to particular countries’ conditions. In other
instances, the challenge is development and diffusion of technologies “unaddressed” by
global technology markets – for example, improved cookstoves. In still other cases, the
challenge is one of effective deployment of existing technologies.
There are several aspects of effective technology deployment that need to be addressed
in a systemic manner. There is a need to improve the technology development process,
to find adequate and appropriate financing, and to develop markets for the products
made with the technologies, including through enabling policies. The needs and gaps in
these areas often differ across sectors, technologies, and countries.
Going forward, from our point of view, these indicate some of the areas where we clearly
need further work and discussion, if we are to converge towards any new international
collective action for clean technology collaboration and dissemination.
Ladies and gentlemen,
There is no doubt that our ultimate goal is to come up with workable proposals for
updated international mechanisms to facilitate clean and environmentally sound
technology development and transfer. And, it is also clear that existing technology
facilitation mechanisms and programmes - while numerous - have not been entirely
commensurate with the needs of developing countries and the planet.
But, as our experts have underlined, the issue at hand is complex and multi-dimensional.
We have to take a careful look at how the stage of development affects the options
available to countries.
We also have to understand better the inter-linkages between what happens in develop
countries and developing countries. Technology options and choices of developed
countries have a crucial impact on technologies options of developing countries. Indeed,
we gain nothing by presenting issues in different categories of countries as being
antagonistic.
We have to look at North-South and South-South cooperation as complementary
processes that can reinforce each other, rather than seeing them as mutually exclusive. I
hope the second session of tomorrow's Workshop will help shed more light on that
issue.
We are also reminded that we need a better focus on the institutional aspects of this
problem at the international level. In Workshops 3 and 4, we will have to take a careful
look at the institutional landscape.
The discussion of technology facilitation options should not be limited to existing
approaches and initiatives. A range of options needs to be considered. In this context,
the proposals made by the SG last fall should be looked at.
We made a good start today. I look forward to sustaining it.