UNCTAD publishes new report highlighting green tech opportunities for developing countries

The report highlights green innovation to drive economic growth and technological advancement in developing countries. However, most of the benefits these technologies provide are being reaped by developed countries. Closing the green tech gap will require global cooperation and a whole-of-government approach by national governments.

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The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published 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 notes that existing economic inequalities risk being exacerbated as developed countries currently leverage 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 the SDGs, helping developing countries to reduce poverty and tackle climate change.

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

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

Developing countries need to align their environmental, science, technology, innovation and industrial policies to change this scenario. 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.