The Intersessional Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Technology Transfer and Cooperation was opened by Amb. Razali Ismail of Malaysia, Chair of the Commission on Sustainable Development on Wednesday, 23 February 1994. He stressed the cross-cutting nature of technology transfer issues.
Marius Enthoven, Director General for the Environment in the Ministry of Housing, Planning and the Environment of the Netherlands was elected Chair of the Working Group. In his introductory comments, the Chair noted that using Agenda 21 as a starting point the Working Group should build on the work of other intersessional meetings. These meetings began to develop an overview of existing specific problems and barriers to the transfer of environmentally sound technology (EST). He urged the Working Group to consider the suggestions in the Secretary-General's report in the context of: market demand for technology transfer and how that demand can be stimulated at the national level; the development of a suitable infrastructure for technology transfer; and the role of transnational corporations (TNCs) in investing in technology transfer to developing countries.
Items on the Working Group's agenda included an overview of the current situation and trends relating to the transfer of environmentally sound technologies; access to information on environmentally sound technologies; institutional capabilities and capacity building; financial arrangements and technological partnership; and the adoption of the Working Group's report.
Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, introduced agenda item 2, overview of the current situation and trends relating to the transfer of environmentally sound technologies. One reason why the UNCED process attracted so much political energy was the public's growing sense of technological disquiet -- thus science and technology are seen by many as part of the problem. The role of the Working Group is to show that science and technology can be part of the solution. The Working Group must provide policy makers with judgments despite incomplete knowledge and must advise the political process.
The representatives of Colombia and the US jointly presented the results of the Cartagena meeting. The discussion on technology transfer for handling liquid wastes focused on proposals for action to be considered by the Working Group: improving access to information; monitoring discharges and assessing the risk they pose; improving regulatory frameworks; financing the acquisition of technology; strengthening institutions in receiving countries; improving public awareness and support for needed actions; lowering technological risks; and minimizing legal obstacles and trade barriers. The discussion on energy production and use focused on the following areas: promoting and facilitating policy reforms that accelerate the introduction of energy efficient technologies, practices and systems; fostering and financing international dissemination of information; promoting donor collaboration and coordination; and working directly with recipient nations in developing the necessary absorptive capacity.
Norway introduced the report of the Oslo workshop. The workshop was structured around four themes: general technology-environment issues; supply side issues; demand side issues; and new initiatives. The following priorities were identified: the need to improve levels of awareness and training needs among policy makers; the establishment of benchmarking as a means to encourage best practice; the need for the continual upgrading of environmental standards; need to document existing environmentally-oriented technical assistance programmes; need to develop effective regulatory systems; and the need for a financial instrument comparable to that developed for the global conventions to address local problems with environmental, developmental and technological dimensions. [Return to start of article]