Environmentally Sound Technologies (ESTs) encompass technologies that have the potential for significantly improved environmental performance relative to other technologies. Broadly speaking, these technologies -
- protect the environment
- are less polluting
- use resources in a sustainable manner
- recycle more of their wastes and products
- handle all residual wastes in a more environmentally acceptable way than the technologies for which they are substitutes
Furthermore, as argued in Chapter 34 of Agenda 21, Environmentally Sound Technologies are not just "individual technologies, but total systems which include know-how, procedures, goods and services, and equipment as well as organizational and managerial procedures". This requires both the human resource development (including gender relevant issues) and local capacity building aspects of technology choices. There is also the need to ensure that ESTs are compatible with nationally determined socio-economic, cultural and environmental priorities and development goals.
In the complex relationship between development and the environment, technology provides a link between human action and the natural resource base. Faced with limited global natural resources, the people of the world must seek to achieve more sustainable forms of development. As a result, the application of new, resource efficient ESTs has become crucial for both development and the environment. Technology cannot compensate for or mitigate the deep-rooted social causes of environmental problems or the short-comings of political and social policies, but the need for sustainable development in the world today is real. The availability of ESTs via cooperative technology transfer depends largely on political willingness at the international level to pursue an innovative environmental agenda as we approach the new millennium.
The dynamics of technological change will not be limited to one technology for developed countries and another for developing countries. Instead, cutting-edge and traditional technologies will coexist across the globe. In order for developing countries to make the best use of ESTs, however, they must increase their ability to assess, analyze and choose technologies based on their own needs and development priorities, and then adapt these technologies to specific local conditions. Technology in its new role, will be an essential factor on the path towards sustainability.
ESTs and Agenda 21
34.1. Environmentally sound technologies protect the environment, are less polluting, use all resources in a more sustainable manner, recycle more of their wastes and products, and handle residual wastes in a more acceptable manner than the technologies for which they were substitutes.
34.2. Environmentally sound technologies in the context of pollution are "process and product technologies" that generate low or no waste, for the prevention of pollution. They also cover "end of the pipe" technologies for treatment of pollution after it has been generated.
34.3. Environmentally sound technologies are not just individual technologies, but total systems which include know-how, procedures, goods and services, and equipment as well as organizational and managerial procedures.
This implies that when discussing transfer of technologies, the human resource development and local capacity-building aspects of technology choices, including gender-relevant aspects, should also be addressed.
Environmentally sound technologies should be compatible with nationally determined socio-economic, cultural and environmental priorities.
ESTs and Kyoto Protocol
Requests the Convention secretariat:
(a) To continue its work on the synthesis and dissemination of information on environmentally sound technologies and know-how conducive to mitigating and adapting to climate change, for example, by accelerating the development of methodologies for adaptation technologies, in particular decision tools, to evaluate alternative adaptation strategies, bearing in mind the work programme on methodological issues approved by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice at its sixth session;
(b) To consult with the Global Environment Facility and other relevant international organizations, and solicit information on their capabilities and abilities to support the work of (an) international technology information centre(s), as well as national and regional centres, and to enhance support for national and regional centres, and to report to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation on its findings;
(c) To consider specific case studies, as part of its work on terms of transfer of technologies, drawing on the experience of Parties, including demonstration projects, with the aim of evaluating barriers to the introduction and implementation of environmentally sound technologies and know-how, and of promoting their practical application;
(a) To create an enabling environment to help further stimulate private-sector investment in, and transfer of, environmentally sound technologies; and
(b) To improve reporting in national communications on technology needs and technology transfer activities, as indicated in the reporting guidelines adopted by the Parties.
(2nd Plenary Meeting, December 1997. FCCC/CP/1997/7/Add.1)
Source: UNEP International Environmental Technology Center