New technologies have the potential to accelerate a country's development, but a global technology gap remains.
Displaying 1-20 of 69 key documents
Source: Asian Institute of Technology Working Group
This document builds on the idea that security constitutes a basic human right, and examines how technological advances can potentially impinge on this right while also addressing an imbalance of global security, technology, and power.
The article insists on the social production of science and technology, and makes the case for creating an alternative technological order that would re-orient the production of science and technology so it is socially driven and engages directly with human vulnerability. The authors argue that this would serve to re-entrench the basic right to security and create new modes of empowerment through the democratisation of technology.
Source: World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) | 2010
This document examines ethical and human rights-based approaches to climate change and climate-related vulnerability. It was published by the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), an independent expert advisory committee tasked with guiding the UN Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) in its implementation of ethical frameworks in science, technology and development.
In particular, the report focuses on ethical issues brought about by climate change, and discusses both general and specific principles that could be adopted to respond to these issues.
These include protecting human rights; providing equitable access to medical, scientific and technological developments, including the rapid sharing of knowledge about such developments and the sharing of benefits, with particular attention to the needs of developing countries; holding polluters accountable for the cost of their pollution; and ensuring that development is sustainable.
This report gives an overview and analysis of early warning technologies and capacities in the developing world, including the basic concepts of early warning systems and the role of earth observation for disasters and the environment. While focusing on existing systems, it also addresses gaps in monitoring, communication and response that need to be filled to improve timely decision-making for slow-onset emergencies.
The authors highlight that much more needs to be done before a global multi-hazard system can be developed. Recommendations for filling operation gaps include: improving existing technologies and systems; building infrastructure and capacities in developing countries most at risk; and bridging science and decision making.
Source: International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) | June 2012
This paper examines technology transfer and technology accumulation for development since the 1960s, with the aim of generating constructive dialogue on the subject.
The authors ask whether debates over technology transfer cater to developing countries' needs, and review how knowledge of capacity for technological innovation has changed over the past few decades. They also ask how international negotiations over technology transfer can reflect lessons learnt about how countries build technological capabilities in a changing global technology environment. The paper focuses on intellectual property rights (IPRs) — an issue which, they argue, is central to international discourses on technology transfer.
The authors conclude that in order to move forward, technology transfer cannot be discussed in the polarised terms of providing technology transfer in return for sustaining trends in global IPR protection, or by granting IPRs in the hope of technology transfer. To facilitate this discussion, they identify three linkages between technology transfer, IPR and economic development.
Source: Millennium Project | January, 2005
This report outlines the role that science, technology and innovation can play in implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It draws from lessons learned over the past five decades, and describes actions needed to help achieve the MDGs through technological innovation, including building scientific infrastructure, investing in education and promoting business activities in science and technology.
The report acknowledges three main actors in technological innovation: governments, academic institutions and private enterprise. It argues that they must work together to improve the policy environment, technological infrastructure and capacity-building in developing nations. It suggests that global partnerships, advising policymakers and good governance should be encouraged, and points out that the diversity of political environments and resources means that countries should not have a one-size-fits-all approach to policy development.
Source: Development Policy and Practice, The Open University | December, 2009
This paper discusses the shift in technological innovation from developed to developing nations, and its link to economic growth and poverty reduction. The author writes that until the 1960s, technological innovation activities took place in wealthy environments to meet the needs of rich, industrialised nations. But a rising entrepreneurial spirit, higher incomes and favourable economic conditions in developing nations such as China and India have created a favourable environment for the development and diffusion of appropriate technologies: low cost solutions for the poor. The author suggests that these parts of the world are likely to become the centre of appropriate technology development in the future due to the size of the population in need of innovations, as well as growing technical capabilities. He argues that this geographical shift will move technological progress away from large companies to small local producers.
Source: UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) | January, 2009
This report — summarising a UNESCO innovation for development workshop — examines the role of innovation in development, and the contribution of knowledge, research and development to innovation. It focuses on knowledge in science, engineering and technology.
The report outlines analytical and theoretical frameworks as well as current innovation efforts and innovation policy. Major issues discussed at the workshop are highlighted in an action agenda, which suggests the need for more research and statistical indicators, dissemination of projects, human and institutional capacity building, better policy design and the need to increase awareness of innovation.
A separate report, which is included in the document, consolidates several themes that emerged from the talks, including the need to improve policy coherence, the difficulties of comparing innovation across countries or different points in time, the importance of capacity building, and the role of technology transfer in generating new knowledge. It also identifies challenges facing policymakers, the research community and international donors in achieving these goals. The report includes keynote speeches and links to Powerpoint presentations given at the conference.
Source: Environmental Politics | June, 2011
This paper offers a theoretical approach to combining innovation and community action as a way to bridge the gap between grassroots activities and mainstream technological innovation. It discusses how grassroots innovation differs from mainstream business reform, and how the United Kingdom's sustainable development strategy reflects this.
Using an example of communal housing, the authors show how technological innovation is intimately linked to social innovation. The paper characterises social needs and ideological commitments as key drivers of grassroots innovation, and describes the benefits and problems associated with grassroots activities. It concludes by stating that grassroots activities are neglected, and lays out a research and policy agenda to help address the problem.
Source: Springer-Verlag | June 2011
This peer-reviewed paper examines the factors that motivate people to innovate, with the authors arguing that material rewards, such as capital or patents, make up only one aspect of their motivation. Using grassroots innovation in India as a case-study, the study found that the intrinsic rewards of "getting things done" and satisfaction play just as important a role as extrinsic factors, such as increased income.
The authors developed indicators of motivation by looking at innovation as a process of three stages — idea generation, experimentation and application. They found that intrinsic motivations were particularly important in the early stages, when there are high levels of uncertainty about the innovation. They conclude by outlining implications of their findings for innovation policies, suggesting that use of funding and patents could negatively impact innovators by reducing their desire to share their ideas locally.
Source: UNU-MERIT | June, 2011
This paper describes two case studies of smallholder farms in South Africa to assess the processes involved in agricultural innovation carried out jointly with farmers. It highlights the importance of experimentation and cooperation for cash crop and subsistence farmers, and reviews current policies to evaluate how grassroots innovation is being supported in South Africa.
The paper points to inadequate policy support for grassroots innovation. It outlines the characteristics of innovation systems including social contexts, learning cycles and self-reflection, and discusses intellectual property rights. The authors identify triggers for innovation, including the potential to cut down on labour, and suggest that policymakers and local communities need to engage in cooperative activities to create an enabling environment for grassroots innovation. Policy suggestions include creating links between formal and informal research and viewing collaboration as a key indicator of success.
Source: The World Bank | May 2011
This sourcebook provides an overview of current and upcoming information and communications technology (ICT) for agricultural innovation, and discusses their potential to improve productivity, services institutions and value chains. It aims to provide both technical and policy guidance to development professionals and decision makers, and focuses on how ICT can support poor smallholder farmers including female farmers.
The guide includes fourteen modules on various aspects of ICTs in agriculture, including how to use the technologies to boost livestock, crop and fishery production; increase smallholder farmers' access to financial services; and improve rural governance. Each module provides information about current trends in ICT use, identifies challenges and lessons learned, notes how technologies have been used to achieve specific goals, and offers examples of successes or failures. The report describes the contributions these technologies can make, provides guidance on how to design and implement ICTs and on how to evaluate them.
Source: Global Economy and Development at Brookings | January 2012
This report gives an overview of education challenges facing the developing world and discusses the technologies available to address them. It aims to provide guidance to decision-makers designing, implementing or investing in education initiatives.
The report focuses on the potential of recent information and communications technology (ICT) such as mobile phone and laptops, and examines conditions that can influence whether technology interventions are successful. It also focuses on the world's poorest countries.
The authors put forward seven principles for effective use of technology in education, which include a focus on identifying the problem before introducing a technology to address it, and considering whether the design and implementation of the technology will allow it to last over time. The report concludes that ICTs can bring quality learning to some of the world's poorest and hard-to-reach communities.
Source: Center for Global Development | September 2011
This report presents findings from the first randomised evaluation of a cash transfer programme delivered using mobile phones. The study investigated the effect of mobile phone technology on monthly cash transfers to households in Niger that were affected by a severe drought.
Villages that received cash in this way, known as 'zap', saw benefits such as reduced costs of receiving cash, more diverse purchases and diets, and more types of crops. This, suggest the authors, is down to the zap mechanism encouraging different decision-making in the household, as well as due to lower costs and greater privacy.
They conclude that mobile transfers are a cost-effective way of transferring cash to remote rural populations, especially those with limited road and financial infrastructure, but caution that more research is needed on broader effects on the welfare of these populations.
Source: New England Journal of Medicine
In this review article, published after the Fukushima accident, medical scientists examine published information on the short- and long-term health risks of exposure to ionising radiation. The article describes two previous nuclear accidents — at Three Mile Island in the USA, and Chernobyl in Ukraine — and explains the types and doses of radiation that can damage biological systems. It discusses the mechanisms behind exposure, and radiation-induced illness and injury, including long-term cancer risks. The authors also review measures that can be taken to reduce the effects of radiation exposure, including potassium iodide tablets used in the aftermath of Chernobyl. The article stresses that clear communication on radiation exposure levels and health risks is a key component of the response to a nuclear incident.
Source: Harvard University
This policy brief, from Harvard University, explores research and development (R&D), cost and performance issues that the nuclear power sector needs to consider if the industry is to meet the growing demand for carbon-free energy. Based on surveys it offers estimates of the costs and performance of this research, and potential benefits that could be gained over the next 20 years.
A key finding is that current levels of public investment in nuclear power technologies will not lead to a major reduction of the cost of nuclear plants by 2030. Instead, many of today’s R&D programmes are focused on capabilities such as extending uranium resources or improving waste management and safety. The authors acknowledge that the Fukushima accident has highlighted the need for better preparedness and has undermined confidence in nuclear energy. The report concludes that development of nuclear power should address issues aside from R&D such as getting public acceptance and support from governments.
Source: Institute of Development Studies (IDS)
This paper, published by the UK-based Institute of Development Studies, examines how disaster risks associated with climate change might impact electricity generation and energy planning — which is an emerging research and development agenda. The authors argue that energy researchers and policymakers have overlooked how changing disaster risks could affect electrical power production.
The report assesses the vulnerability of nuclear power as well as several other options for energy generation — including oil, natural gas, hydropower and bioenergy — and identifies the implications for energy policy and planning. It lists recommendations as to how policymakers could take into account the link between disaster risk management and low-carbon development to improve the capacity of developing countries to build resilience. Suggestions include completing environmental impact assessments when siting new power plants, establishing better links between energy, climate, and disaster policymakers, and planning climate change adaption strategies for electricity production.
Source: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
This safety guide, published by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is designed to help countries prepare plans to improve their capacity to respond to nuclear or radiological emergencies whether as a result of an accident or malicious use of nuclear material. The guide can also be used to meet IAEA's safety requirements.
It outlines generic and operational criteria, according to specific radiation doses, to help policymakers decide between different courses of action to protect the public, emergency workers and the environment. It includes guidelines for assessing food and water contamination, and subsequent remediation measures, as well as on how to set safety perimeters around an incident depending on initial observations at the scene. The guide also outlines lessons learned from past experiences.
Source: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
This report, published by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), details a survey of all significant nuclear-related developments that took place in 2010 worldwide, and outlines how each of the developments has affected the work of the IAEA.
It provides updates on the status and trends in nuclear power, including plants that are under construction, and offers up-to-date details of global uranium resources, safety and emergency preparedness guidelines, and applications of nuclear technology in areas such as cancer treatment. Changes in nuclear law, proposals for nuclear waste management and the status of decommissioned sites are also discussed. The report concludes that countries, international organisations and civil society must work together and respond to future challenges collectively if nuclear energy is to benefit development.
This review article, published before the accident at Fukushima, discusses the immediate and long-term prospects of nuclear power development to meet future carbon-free energy needs. It explores opportunities and constraints of generating a nuclear power 'renaissance', and puts forward six possible options for building a sustainable nuclear energy industry.
The authors say that nuclear technology is at a crossroads, and if it is to move forward a two-stage strategy is needed. The first stage must involve developing or extending the life of the world’s existing nuclear plants over the next two years, to improve their efficiency and reliability. In the second stage, after 2030, the industry should look to build new nuclear power stations with large-scale fuel cycles that may include fuel reprocessing. They highlight measures that, if taken now, could make nuclear a viable energy option in the future.
Source: Worldwatch Institute
This report, from the US-based Worldwatch Institute, provides qualitative and quantitative information about nuclear power plants in operation; under construction; and those being planned worldwide. It also includes an overview of reactions to the nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan.
The authors analyse the economic performance of past and present nuclear projects, and compare them with other leading renewable energy sources. A country by country rundown of nuclear power projects can be found in the annex of the report.
Key findings suggest that nuclear power can no longer keep pace with the development of other renewable power sources. The report states that the nuclear industry had been in decline even before the Fukushima disaster because not enough new reactors are becoming operational, while existing reactors are aging rapidly. The authors believe that the disaster at Fukushima is likely to accelerate this downward trend.