UN Establishes Technology Bank For Least-Developed Countries, Including An IP Bank 06/01/2017 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The United Nations has established a “technology bank” for least-developed countries that aims to strengthen the science, technology and innovation capacity of LDCs that includes better management of intellectual property rights. A resolution establishing the UN Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries was passed by the UN General Assembly on 23 December. The Technology Bank website is here. The press release on the Bank is here [pdf]. The General Assembly Resolution A/71/L.52 is here [pdf]. The 3-year strategic plan is here. The Charter of the Technology Bank is contained in a note from the secretary-general, doc A/71/363. The Technology Bank will be hosted by Turkey, which has pledged US$ 1 million, and will be located in Gebze, ideally with a staff of 10 to 15 people, expected to open in 2017 depending on funding, according to UN sources. It will be financed by voluntary contributions from member states and other stakeholders, including private sector and foundations. The initial indicative budget is US$ 30-40 million over 3-5 years, but this will be further elaborated and refined by the staff of the Bank and its Council once it is appointed, they said. This will include discussions with the LDCs and their development partners. [Update:] The indicative budget is predicated on the well-known reality that the science, technology and innovation needs of LDCs are large, so the objectives set out in the TB Charter and the Strategic Plan are ambitious, the sources said. While it is important to remain cautious in budgetary projections, the indicative budget aims at ensuring “effective and impactful” activities on the ground, ideally reaching all LDCs, albeit to a different degree, in a 3-5 year period, they said. [end update] “The poorest countries in the world cannot eradicate poverty, achieve strong and sustainable development and build resilience without expanding their scientific and technological bases,” Gyan Chandra Acharya, high representative and under-secretary-general for the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing countries, said in the press release. “They need to effectively utilise technology to leapfrog various stages of their development process in order to meet goals of the Istanbul Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda.” Least-developed countries typically are far behind when it comes to intellectual property rights, many with no or few patents. The Council of 13 members who are experts in the field will be appointed by the UN secretary-general with “adequate” presence of experts from LDCs. One member will be approved by the host country and one will represent the secretary-general. Representatives of many agencies, including the director general of the World Intellectual Property Organization will have a standing invitation as observers of the Council meetings. The Technology Bank will be composed of three branches, as explained in the strategic plan [pdf]. The first is a Science, Technology and Innovation Supporting and Enabling Mechanism (STIM) helping LDCs and others strengthen their capacities, both to attract outside technology and to “generate homegrown research and innovation and take them to market.” The second unit will be the Intellectual Property Bank, which “will assist the LDCs in building their national and regional capacities in the areas of International Property Rights [sic] (IPRs) and technology related regulations.” “The IP Bank will facilitate technology transfer on voluntary and mutually agreed terms and conditions and, in the process, help accelerate LDC beneficial integration into the global IP system and technology markets,” it says. “The IP Bank should act as a conduit between IP holders and relevant actors in the LDCs to facilitate access and use of appropriate IPRs covering desired technologies. The IP Bank will also help LDC stakeholders identify, access and use appropriate technologies no longer protected by IPRs.” The IP Bank section does not explicitly specify how it will work to help local innovation result in protectable IP rights for the local communities. It does say that “The project and activities of the STIM and the IP Bank are complementary, and will be planned and implemented in an integrated manner. Indeed harnessing the benefits of accessing newly available technologies is inextricably linked to the ability of local actors to absorb and integrate them into the local context.” This appears to focus the absorption of outside technology. The 23 December resolution pays homage to existing international IP rights rules, stating that the General Assembly, “Urges the United Nations system and other relevant international and regional organizations to support, in a coordinated manner, the operationalization of the Technology Bank and its activities, while respecting the relevant provisions of the intellectual property rights-related agreements.” Intellectual property rights are also included in two of the five primary objectives of the Charter of the Technology Bank. The first objective states: “To strengthen the science, technology and innovation capacity of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), including the capacity to identify, absorb, develop, integrate and scale up the deployment of technologies and innovations, including indigenous ones, as well as the capacity to address and manage Intellectual Property Rights issues;” And the final objective says: “To promote and facilitate the identification, utilization and access of appropriate technologies by LDCs, as well as their transfer to the LDCs, while respecting intellectual property rights and fostering the national and regional capacity of LDCs for the effective utilisation of technology in order to bring about transformative change.” The work programme for the first 3 years is spelled out in dozens of action items, focussed on STI policy and capacity building, technology needs assessment for transformative change, and digital research access and networking. Under the tech needs assessment, it says science, technology and innovation reviews will “provide expertise to interface with donors, UN agencies and international organizations to articulate LDC priority needs, prepare proposals, and communicate with providers of IP-related support.” It also calls for identifying opportunities to strengthen R&D infrastructure. All of the action items are laid out in a graph by type of activity and whether they involve outside technology or “homegrown” innovation and research. Reassuring IP rightsholders, the strategic plan (operational principle 7) states that “No activities and projects of the Technology Bank will lead to any infringement of existing intellectual property rights. Transfer of technology to LDCs should be promoted and facilitated on a voluntary basis with agreed terms and conditions.” The Bank is intended to complement rather than compete with or duplicate activities undertaken by other UN agencies or donors, it says. The Technology Bank plans to conduct a series of baseline science, technology and innovation reviews for a group of pilot LDCs. The STI reviews will be organised in collaboration with the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the UN Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and modelled after their STI reviews, “expanded to cover technology needs assessments,” the plan says. “STI/TNA reviews should identify technological gaps and priority needs for each LDC, as a first step towards developing coherent and integrated strategies that are tailored to the specific situation of each LDC participant,” the plan says. “The reviews will include recommendations for strengthening policies and measures to improve national and regional technological capabilities and encourage innovation, including detailed assessments in areas of critical importance for the studied LDCs.” A full review and evaluation process of the Bank is also laid out, including a report from the secretary-general after 3 years. The Technology Bank initiative has been promoted and supported by the UN Office of The High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) since 2011 in implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action. Once the Tech Bank is fully operationalized, the role of OHRLLS will be mainly to support the representative of the Secretary General sitting in the Bank’s Council. The Bank will be a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly. A draft report prepared by the Governing Council of the Technology Bank was before the General Assembly on 16 November while discussing several other agenda items (meetings coverage: http://www.un.org/press/en/2016/ga11857.doc.htm) Image Credits: UN Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related William New may be reached at email@example.com."UN Establishes Technology Bank For Least-Developed Countries, Including An IP Bank" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.