Daily Archives: December 2, 2008

IPRs; a barrier to technology transfer?

This article was on SciDev.net today – it’s a Q&A session with Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  The article opens:

“de Boer says that getting technology transfer policies right must be one of four central planks of climate policy (See ‘UN climate chief calls for green technology revolution’).”

Whilst this article is specifically about Climate Change policy, parallels to our work in agricultural development could easily be made.  For example the answers put much emphasis on the increased need for partnerships which is something we are hearing a lot about in the CGIAR.   Of specific interest were the following two questions:

How big a barrier to technology transfer are intellectual property rights?
Many developing countries mention it as a major barrier. If we can think about creating mechanisms [in Copenhagen] that make it possible to buy down the intellectual property rights of some new technologies … — it would be an important step forward.
… we need to design mechanisms that make joint research and development between rich and poor countries possible. Both China and India have become major producers [of renewable sources of energy] so it’s not a matter of all the technology being in the North and none of it being in the South: it’s more a matter of finding affordable ways for developing countries to get access to that technology
Are you disappointed with the rate of progress of the technology transfer negotiations?
… there’s a broad realisation that without an advance on technology cooperation, we are just not going to get a result and that is making everybody take this issue much more seriously and look for real ways of advancing it. “

I am a bit confused as to what exactly was meant by creation of mechanisms to “buy down the intellectual property rights”.  If anyone knows please let me know so I can update the post!