Published in SUNS #7313 dated 21 February 2012
Geneva, 20 Feb (Meena Raman) – The second meeting of the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) met in Bonn, Germany from 16-18 February and concluded with agreement on a two-year work plan for 2012 to 2013, the nomination of a six-man evaluation panel for selecting the host of the Climate Technology Centre (CTC) and elaboration of the modalities on linkages with other relevant institutional arrangements under and outside the Convention.
In the elaboration of the work plan, one issue that was controversial among TEC members from developed and developing countries was the issue of addressing intellectual property rights (IPRs) in relation to technology development and transfer.
While the TEC member from Sudan, Mr. Nagmeldin Elhassan, said that the TEC needed to address the IPR issue as to whether it was a barrier to technology transfer in developing countries, the developed country members especially from the United States, Mr. Rick Duke, and Mr. Kunihiko Shimada of Japan, were reluctant to have the matter discussed by the TEC, with Japan insisting that the proper forum was the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
After much wrangling over the matter, TEC members agreed that one of the short-term activities in 2012 would be the holding of a thematic dialogue on “enabling environments and barriers to technology development and transfer” through the engagement with stakeholders.
The controversy over the IPR issue arose following a presentation by Professor Carlos Correa of the South Centre at the TEC meeting on the first day (15 February) at a panel discussion with representatives from some stakeholders.
Correa, in his presentation, raised a number of policy issues that are relevant for the transfer and development of technology in the interests of developing countries on which the TEC should work and produce recommendations.
Among them included the regulation of markets for technology, namely through competition policies that, inter alia, deal with refusals by companies to transfer technology and address restrictive practices; measures relating to IP protection, such as facilitating searches for patented technologies and supporting efforts to improve the quality of patents (mainly in respect of inventive step and sufficiency of disclosure in patent applications); adoption of technical standards in a way that ensures the participation of developing countries’ firms and avoids the use of patents (which are eventually incorporated into such standards) as a means to restrict competition; initiatives based on open innovation schemes to promote the development of technologies as a public good (as in the case of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research [CGIAR] model); and effective implementation of Article 66.2 of the TRIPS Agreement (Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement of the World Trade Organisation that deals with the transfer of environmentally sound technologies [ESTs] to Least Developed Countries) with regard to ESTs and establishment of patent pools to facilitate access to technologies on pre-determined conditions.
He also said that “transfer of technology” should not be interpreted as the sale of equipment; the transfer of know-how and know-why are essential for developing countries.
Apart from the South Centre, the TEC also heard presentations on the first day from other stakeholders including the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the World Resources Institute, the Latin American Energy Organisation (OLADE) and representatives from the business community. It also heard statements from observers including the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and Third World Network (TWN).
The TWN representative asked the TEC members to also address the issue of technology assessment, as the issue of the appropriateness of particular technologies to developing countries was an important one and was a gap that had not been addressed.
Some members of the TEC agreed that the technology assessment issue needed to be addressed and this was reflected in the work plan under the medium term activities in 2013 and beyond, through the preparation of inventories of relevant technology briefs, reports and technical papers to provide possible guidance on technologies based on technology assessments.
The TEC meeting was chaired by its Chair, Mr. Gabriel Blanco of Argentina and Mr. Antonio Pfluger of Germany, who is its Vice-chair. The TEC held its first meeting last year in September.
At the 16th COP (Conference of Parties) in Cancun in 2010, Parties agreed to establish the TEC comprised of 20 expert members (with 9 members from Annex 1 countries and 11 members from non-Annex 1 countries). The Cancun decision tasked the TEC to implement the framework for meaningful and effective actions to enhance the implementation of technology transfer in developing countries.
EVALUATION PANEL TO SELECT HOST OF THE CTC
The Durban COP in December last year decided that the selection process for the host of the CTC shall be launched and requested the secretariat to convene an evaluation panel, consisting of three members from Parties included in Annex I (developed countries) and three from non-Annex I Parties (developing countries) to the Convention as nominated by the TEC from within its membership.
The Chair of the TEC on the very first day of the Bonn meeting proposed that the Annex 1 Parties hold informal consultations to nominate three members from among them and that the same be done by members of non-Annex 1 countries.
Discussions on the nominations were held among TEC members in the evening of 16 February, which continued on the final day of the meeting and was closed to observers. It is learnt that the meeting succeeded in convening a six-man panel who are tasked to conduct an assessment of the proposals received for hosting the CTC, with a shortlist ranking up to five proponents, for the consideration by the Parties at the meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) which will be held in May this year.
In the discussion over the two-year work plan for the TEC, while some members of the TEC especially from the US and Japan wanted the TEC to mainly focus on stock-taking and information gathering related to technology development and transfer in the first year of its work (while waiting for the CTC and Network to be operationalized next year), other members from developing and developed countries stressed the need for the TEC to show that it is “looking forward”, and “not appear passive” or “start from zero”.
Apart from the controversy of the IPR issue, other areas that saw some tussle among TEC members were over how to deal with technology roadmaps; the preparation and topics for the technical papers; and on recommending guidance on policies and programme priorities related to technology development and transfer.
The TEC finally agreed on a two-year rolling work plan which includes the following:
1. Mandated activities from Durban which were the nomination of TEC members for an evaluation panel to select the host of the CTC (as concluded above); elaborate modalities on linkages with other relevant institutional arrangements (see details below); and elaborate procedures for preparing a joint annual report of the TEC and the CTC.
2. Short-term activities in 2012 which consists of the preparation of an inventory of relevant work of the institutions that are active in the area of technology collaboration with a view to seeking collaboration with them; review of technology needs from various sources; engage stakeholders through thematic dialogues in order to seek cooperation with other relevant technology initiatives, stakeholders and organisations; preparing an inventory of existing technology roadmaps; initiate preparation of technical paper(s); development of an information platform within the Technology Clearinghouse (TT: Clear) for the TEC.
3. Medium term activities (2013 and beyond) consisting of the preparation of inventories of relevant technology briefs, reports and technical papers; review of roadmaps, taking into account the inventory of existing technology roadmaps; engage stakeholders through thematic dialogues on different topics; organise a stakeholder thematic dialogue on research, development and diffusion; produce technical paper(s) on topics agreed by the TEC and recommend guidance as appropriate, on policies and programme priorities related to technology development and transfer.
MODALITIES FOR LINKAGES WITH INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS UNDER THE CONVENTION
On the modalities for linkages with the institutional arrangements under the Convention, the TEC agreed that for performing its functions through close interactions with relevant thematic bodies established under the Convention, including but not limited to the advisory body of the CTC and Network, the Adaptation Committee, the board of the Green Climate Fund, the Registry, the LDC Expert Group, the Consultative Group of Experts on national communications from Parties in non-Annex 1, the Standing Committee (on finance) and the Adaptation Fund Board, the modalities may include the following:
- Cross participation in the meetings of the relevant bodies including workshops and events organized by such bodies, or jointly organized, on issues of common interest;
- Inviting inputs to support the implementation of particular activities as specified in the work plan of TEC;
- Knowledge and information sharing.
MODALITIES FOR LINKAGES WITH OTHER RELEVANT INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS OUTSIDE THE CONVENTION
For performing its functions through linkages with institutional arrangements outside the Convention including, inter alia, public institutions, the business community, academia, international organisations, NGOs, networks and partnerships, the TEC agreed that the modalities include the following:
- Offering participation in the TEC meetings as observers or expert advisors;
- Technical task forces, stakeholder forums and/or consultative groups;
- Bilateral cooperative arrangements;
- Web-based communication channel including through the technology transfer clearinghouse (TT: Clear); and
Participation of the Chair, Vice-Chair and/or any member designated by the TEC in external meetings and reporting back on those meetings.
The members also agreed that the next meeting of the TEC will be held sometime in May, back-to-back with the meetings of the Subsidiary Bodies, with another meeting to be held in September this year.