The green tech revolution risks missing out on developing countries without urgent action from the developed world, says a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has warned.
In his flagship 2023 Technology and Innovation ReportUNCTAD said the economic inequalities that exist between developing and developed countries are expected to worsen in the coming years as the former will find it harder to exploit the market opportunities that exist around green technologies.
At a press conference to discuss the contents of her 236-page report, UNCTAD Director Shamika Sirimanne said there was “tremendous potential” for developing countries to benefit from the “green technology revolution” but there was a high risk that this opportunity would be wasted.
“There is enormous potential for developing countries… and I say potential because at the moment it remains at this level,” she said.
“The market value of green technologies is expected to be around $2.1 billion in 2030. This is an increase from $590 billion in 2020. That’s a huge leap…and when we dig deeper into these technologies , and who benefits from it, it is very clear: it is the developed countries that seize almost all the opportunities.
To underscore this point, she shared some numbers on the value of green tech exports and detailed how these had grown over time, but insisted that it was not developing countries that were reaping the rewards. the benefits of this trend.
“Let me give you a number: total green tech exports have grown from $60 billion in 2018 to over $156 billion in 2021. We don’t see that kind of improvement for developing countries” , she said.
Indeed, during the same period, exports from developing countries increased from $57 billion to $75 billion. At the same time, in three years, the share of developing countries in world exports fell from more than 48% to less than 33%.
“We see both groups starting at the same starting line of $57 billion, but for developing countries it hasn’t jumped like it jumped for developed countries,” she added.
Deepen the report
The report details 17 technologies considered “at the forefront of green innovation”, including artificial intelligence, biofuels, electric vehicles and others, and highlights their potential economic benefits and capabilities.
“These technologies have seen phenomenal growth over the past two decades: in 2020, the total market value was $1.5 billion and in 2030 it could reach $9.5 billion. About half of the latter is for the Internet of Things (IoT), which encompasses a wide range of devices across multiple industries,” the report states.
However, action is needed to ensure that developing countries are better placed to take full advantage of these technologies so that they can achieve their own climate goals and capture some of the economic opportunities they represent.
“We are at the beginning of a technological revolution based on green technologies,” said UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan. “This new wave of technological change will have a tremendous impact on the global economy. Developing countries need to capture more of the value created in this technological revolution to grow their economies.
She added: “Missing this wave of technology due to insufficient political attention or a lack of targeted investment in capacity building would have lasting negative implications.”
To prevent this from happening, governments in developing countries must urgently revamp their industrial, innovation and energy policies to champion the use and development of green technologies and channel more investment into this area, said UNCTAD.
The report also urges developed countries to lend a helping hand to their less affluent counterparts to ensure that all nations can participate in and reap the full economic benefits of the green technology revolution.
“Most of the world’s renewable energy capacity, technology and expertise is housed in a handful of countries. As the world transitions to a net zero, resilient and just future, we cannot let developing countries fall behind,” the report says.
It is also time for developed countries to step up and do their part to level the playing field to ensure equitable access to renewable energy and green technologies for all nations, the report adds.
“Together – with international financial institutions and the private sector – developed countries must level the playing field to accelerate renewable energy projects in developing countries. [Because] the fight against climate change is everyone’s fight,” he said.
“By working in solidarity and creating the conditions for the renewable energy revolution, we can harness the full potential of a just transition for all countries and pass on a greener, more prosperous and more sustainable world to our children and grandchildren. children.”