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Access to climate change technology by developing countries


The paper critically examines various approaches that have been suggested for achieving greater access to climate change technology by developing countries, including compulsory licensing, patent pools, patent databases and structured voluntary licensing “mechanisms”. The author details the practical problems facing these approaches to achieve the expected results for developing countries.

Access to climate change technology, in particular by developing countries, is a key element of any effective international response to the global climate change challenge and one of the pillars of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In this regard, the Bali Plan of Action called for “enhanced action on technology development and transfer”. Since the Bali meeting, the role of intellectual property rights (IPRs) has been the subject of increased attention in climate change discussions on technology transfer. Different views and positions have emerged concerning how intellectual property (IP) functions to facilitate or hinder access to climate change technology. The UNFCCC negotiating texts contain a wide spectrum of options and proposals relating to intellectual property, which reflects this diversity of views.

In this context, this new International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) paper aims to contribute to these discussions by providing a much needed practical perspective on how these options and proposals would work “in the real world” and the extent to which they would effectively enable developing countries to gain greater access to climate change technologies.

The author argues for a practical two-pronged strategy. The first prong is climate change technology innovation strategy (CCTIS), focusing on supporting climate change research and innovation in developing countries by developing country scientists. The second prong of the strategy is “win–win” development collaboration agreements for climate change technology between developed and developing country parties. Cannady’s approach emphasizes that the first prong – innovation strategy – is the foundation that makes the second prong – mutually beneficial technological collaboration – possible.

Finally, the paper reflects on the UNFCCC draft recommendations for “Enhanced Action on Technology Transfer”. It emphasizes the fact that important recommendations on funding, incentives and development collaboration need to be detailed and made concrete. The author urges negotiators to recognize the need to support developing country universities and research institutions in any future agreement.

Read the paper here: Access to climate change technology by developing countries.