This paper argues, on the basis of empirical evidence and the conceptual evolution over the years of what constitutes technology transfer, that much can be done within Environmental Goods and Services (EGS) and other areas of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations. This would, however, imply rethinking the mandate of EGS negotiations and steering the focus away from simply increasing market access for EGS to one that recognises and facilitates the importance of knowledge transfers including “tacit” knowledge embodied in services. Professor Mytelka clearly illustrates, through various examples and case studies, the impediments countries face in obtaining meaningful access to environmentally sound technologies (ESTs).
The author questions whether it is feasible to expect the Doha WTO negotiating process to deliver more on the technology transfer front than has so far been achieved. The paper concludes that there are still other aspects of the mandate and the process of negotiating trade that could be rethought from a broader technology transfer and sustainable development perspective. These involve recognising the “public goods” element inherent in many ESTs and to open up opportunities for learning and capacity building and enhanced response capabilities in developing countries through flexibility, special and differential treatment and technical assistance.
The paper calls for the identification of areas where such opportunities could be pursued, not only in EGS negotiations, but also in other areas of discussions such as subsidies, agriculture and Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. In addition, the paper advocates positive measures that go beyond the negotiating framework, including the creation of a Knowledge Fund to bring benefits of learning and innovation in technologies that respond to the critical needs of developing countries including the environment.