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Climate Change Resilience and Technology Transfer: The Role of Intellectual Property

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The impact of climate change has emerged as a major threat to sustainable development and poverty reduction efforts in many less developed countries, in particular in the least developed countries (LDCs) such as the countries in the African region and Small Island States. New technologies are necessary for the stabilization and reduction of atmospheric greenhouse gases and to enhance the capacity of poor countries to respond to shifts in resource endowments that are expected to accompany climate change. Therefore, technology transfer, particularly in the case of access to environmentally sound technologies (ESTs) is widely seen as an integral part of climate change resilience. Concerted efforts will be required for the development, deployment and transfer of ESTs to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience to the risks of climate change. Thus, development and transfer of ESTs has emerged as a fundamental building block in the crafting of a post-Kyoto 2012 global regime for climate change resilience. In this context, the role of intellectual property rights (IPRs) has been the subject of increased attention in the climate change discussions since the Bali conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2007. Different conflicting views and positions have emerged pointing to the role of IPRs in either facilitating or hindering the transfer of ESTs. The dissemination of ESTs from developed countries to developing countries and LDCs is a very complicated process often simplified by the argument that patent waiver for ESTs or allowing copying with weak intellectual property rights will help the developing countries and LDCs to better cope with the climate change problems. This article tries to examine the relationship between the IPRs (with special reference to patent system) and the resilience discourse with a starting point in the terms of social and ecological resilience.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Law, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden


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