Technology transfer and exchange

Copyright under Creative Commons by Solar Electric Light Fund

Article 4.5 of the Convention urges developed countries to undertake practical steps to promote, facilitate and finance the transfer of, or access to, environmentally sound technologies and know-how to developing countries in order to enable them to adopt to and mitigate climate change. Developed countries are called upon to support the development and enhancement of endogenous capacities and technologies.
There are different guidebooks or guiding principles available to help countries to conduct a technology needs assessment (TNA), such as those published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP/GEF) or Environmental Programme (UNEP). An extensive consideration of gender-differentiated needs or other gender dimensions is still largely lacking within these undertakings.

Gender dimensions

Given that the preferences and priorities of men and women are closely related to their socially determined roles in society, their needs regarding technologies often differ. Women also often lack of access to technologies, as well as to information and training about appropriate technologies and their use. Their voices are very rarely heard in discussions about technology transfer.

Studies in various regions of the world reveal that women’s risk perception is often higher. This offers one explanation as to why women more strongly reject risky technologies, such as nuclear energy, genetically modified organisms, and also large dams for hydro power which might impact negatively upon the environment and local communities.

Technology transfer often implies a one-way-transfer from industrialised countries to so-called developing countries. Although women have a broad body of knowledge, capacities and experiences in the use of technologies which are appropriate for their particular situations, this knowledge is often neither recognised nor properly utilised. Technology exchange should therefore be a new strategy of cooperation.


In the context of the UNFCC, Parties need to ensure that women’s priorities are integrated to facilitate the access to and deployment of safe, environmentally sound and gender responsive technologies.

Efforts around technology transfer should therefore include a gender perspective, in order to ensure that gender differentiated data is collected to assess the technology needs of different stakeholders, and to ensure that these needs are reflected and prioritised. Technology Needs Assessment (TNA) processes must therefore take place with civil society participation and include women and gender experts. Technology transfer should build on traditional technologies already used by local communities, including women.

Co-benefits of such assessments and their implementation are in the field of household productivity and alleviation of labour are also crucial, in order to enhance women’s education and income generating activities. 

Furthermore, all technologies transferred under the protocols of the UNFCCC must at the very least ensure that no harm is caused to either environment or the human communities to whom such technology is transferred. No technology that might reasonably be considered high risk should be permitted to be transferred under this process. Technology impact assessments are therefore crucial, ensuring civil society participation, with a gender perspective, and a multilateral, independent and participatory evaluation of technologies for their social, economic and environmental impacts.
Fair and equitable access to safe technology also requires support to overcome intellectual property barriers, so that developing countries are able to build and develop their own technological base. Women must be able to participate equally in this process.