Nairobi — From the latest technical developments in renewable energy to innovative cropping techniques, the role of technology and research in tackling climate change in developing countries is the focus of a new facility launched by the United Nations today.
Following a decision at the 2012 UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, governments meeting this week in Nairobi at the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) confirmed a UNEP-led consortium as the hosts of the Climate Technology Centre.
The consortium includes the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and 11 other international reseach and development bodies.
The Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) aims to speed up the transfer of climate-related technology and expertise to developing countries in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve resilience to changing weather patterns, drought, soil erosion, and other impacts of climate change.
At the 2010 UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, countries agreed on a new Technology Mechanism to improve the transfer of climate-related technology, encompassing energy efficiency, renewable energy, early-warning systems, and other fields.
Mobilizing necessary funds and eliminating policy and technical barriers to deploying such technologies have traditionally proven difficult.
The CTCN will work to reduce the risks and barriers that hinder acquisition of mitigation technologies by developing countries, and support efforts to implement mitigation and adaptation actions that can reduce emisssions and ensure progress towards sustainable development goals.
"Innovation is the engine of development, and replacing current technologies with cleaner, low carbon alternatives is a vital part of tackling the causes and effects of global climate change," said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
"Under UNEP's leadership, the Climate Technology Centre and Network will work to accelerate the use of new technologies in improving the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in developing countries who are dealing with the impacts of climate change on a daily basis," he added.
"The consortium partners are already engaged in some 1500 activities related to climate technologies in over 150 countries. Together, this expertise and global reach can deliver scaled-up action on mitigation and adaptation, and support the transition to an inclusive, low-carbon green economy," said Mr. Steiner.
Through nationally-designated authorities, developing countries will be able to call on the services of the centre and its wider network for technical support and advice.
"The world needs to urgently accelerate climate action across all three central pillars of action - this means international, national and business action. Technology is essential to enable developing countries to pursue sustainable development and to grow their economies in a low carbon, high resilient manner," said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
"UNEP is well suited to be the host of the Climate Technology Centre and to lead its supporting consortium of world-class organizations. The completion of the Technology Mechanism and its related network is on track and will soon help boost efforts across all three pillars of climate action, which is essential if we are to stay within the internationally agreed limit of a 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise," added Ms. Figueres.
"The Climate Technology Centre and Network will reduce the risks and costs of technology transfer, and help developing countries make informed choices about mitigation and adaptation technologies," said Kandeh K. Yumkella, Director General of UNIDO.
The CTCN will establish an information platform for improved sharing of knowledge related to climate technologies. This will provide data, reports, and other resources to address the specific needs of developing countries.
In terms of capacity building, the centre will conduct regional and national workshops on priority issues, entrepreneurship, and the development of policies and programmes to attract foreign direct investment.
The CTNC will also work to expand international partnerships to accelerate the diffusion of environmentally sound technologies, particulary among communities in developing countries.
Such efforts will include 'twinnings' of organizations and centres to promote North-South and South-South partnerships, and to encourage cooperative research and development.
The centre will become the implementing arm of the Technology Mechanism of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was backed by UN member states in Cancun in 2010.
The Technology Mechanism is expected to facilitate accelerated action on technology development and transfer, in order to support action on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Earlier this week, the climate and economic benefits of deploying solar LED lighting technology were showcased at the UNEP Governing Council.
Some 74 million tons of carbon emissions are produced annually by kerosene lamps and other fuel-based lighting, mainly in communities in developing countries living off the electricity grid.
The UNEP studies show that in Nigeria, for example, replacing fuel-based lighting with solar-powered LED units would save the country US$ 1.4 billion in fuel and other costs, and deliver carbon savings equivalent to taking 1.6 million cars off the road. The initial costs would be repaid in only 14 months.