Technology and Innovation Report 2023

Policy Reports

Author: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published on 16 March 2023 a new report that explores the opportunities that green innovation offer developing countries to drive economic growth and improve technological capacities.

The Technology and Innovation Report 2023 ‘Green technologies: Coherent policy action needed for developing countries to reap the benefits’ notes that existing economic inequalities risk being exacerbated as developed countries are currently leveraging most of the value created by green technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and electric vehicles. It argues that innovation and technological advancements should be directed towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals, helping developing countries to reduce poverty and tackle climate change.

The report also evaluates 17 frontier technologies, including AI, biofuels, and green hydrogen, and assesses their economic potential as well as each country’s capabilities to adopt, use, and adapt to them, including the results of a frontier technology readiness index.

Estimates suggest that these innovations could total $9.5 trillion in market value by 2030. Currently, their supply and know-how is mainly dominated by China and the US, with very few developing countries having the capacities to seize technological opportunities.

To change this scenario, developing countries need to align their environmental, science, technology, innovation and industrial policies. This includes setting priorities for investment in greener and more complex sectors, using incentives to change consumer behaviour, promoting research and development, and addressing the skills and connectivity gap. According to UNCTAD, global cooperation enabled by international trade and intellectual property rules will be key to opening green opportunities for developing countries.