The activities proposed in this chapter of Agenda 21 aim at improving conditions and processes on information, access to and transfer of technology, as well as on capacity-building and cooperative arrangements and partnerships in the field of technology. After nearly three weeks of negotiation at PrepCom IV, brackets remained around the title, a number of paragraphs containing the phrase "environmentally [safe and] sound technology" and on paragraphs dealing with the terms of transfer, intellectual property rights and transfer of privately-owned technologies.
In Rio, a contact group was established under Dutch Minister Hans Alders to deal with these issues. The group agreed to postpone discussion of Saudi Arabia's proposal to insert the words "safe and" before any mention of technology. The paragraph on terms of transfer (13.14(b)), which had been the most controversial at PrepCom IV, was the cause of much discussion. The US proposed replacing the bracketed text with text from the Biodiversity Convention. This was particularly ironic because (1) the US had proposed text from a Convention that it has refused to sign; and (2) the G-77 announced that it was willing to remove the brackets and accept the existing text. At the US's insistence, it was agreed that the three most difficult paragraphs in the chapter -- 34.14(b) on terms of transfer; 34.11 on international business as an important vehicle for technology transfer; and 34.18(e)(iv) on the abuse of intellectual property rights in the case of privately owned technologies -- would be addressed as a single package in a sub-contact group.
Compromise text was achieved on paragraphs 34.11 and 34.18(e)(iv). Since this text was acceptable to the US, it agreed to release its reservations on paragraph 13.14(b). The compromise text in 34.11, which addressed the availability of proprietary technology through commercial channels, states that while "concepts and modalities for assured access to environmentally [safe and] sound technologies...continue to be explored, enhanced access" to such technologies should be "promoted, facilitated and financed as appropriate." The compromise text in paragraph 34.18(e)(iv) reads, "In compliance with and under the specific circumstances recognized by the relevant international conventions adhered to by states," states should undertake "measures to prevent the abuse of intellectual property rights, including rules with respect to their acquisition through compulsory licensing, with the provision of equitable and adequate compensation;". The remaining outstanding issue, "safe and" was resolved in the compromise text proposed by the contact group on atmosphere (see Chapter 9).
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