World Intellectual Property Organization

International Conference Probes Role of Innovation in Mitigating Climate Change

Geneva, July 13, 2009
PR/2009/591

The role of intellectual property (IP) in promoting the development and diffusion of green technologies to combat climate change was at the heart of discussions on Monday July 13, 2009 at a two-day international conference on IP and public policy issues organized by WIPO. 

Britain’s Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property, Mr. David Lammy, told participants that the IP system is critical in delivering a global solution that provides for the widespread diffusion and transfer of climate change mitigating technologies, particularly to developing and least developed countries.  All countries, rich and poor, he said, are suffering from the consequences of climate change. Mr. Lammy said that resolving the technology transfer issue was the key to the successful outcome of climate change negotiations. 

Mr. Michel Jarraud, Secretary General the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that IP should be a catalyst and not an obstacle to finding solutions to the problems associated with climate change. He pointed to the impacts of climate change on health and food security, noting that scientific evidence on these was unequivocal. Mr. Jarraud emphasized the advantages of international cooperation and the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to the challenges arising from climate change, as well as the importance of facilitating technology transfer.

WIPO Director General, Mr. Francis Gurry, said that IP rights have a role to play in facilitating the transition to clean technologies and renewable energies. IP rights, he said, offered the necessary incentives to develop green technologies.  He noted moves by several countries to develop systems to fast track the examination of patent applications in the area of clean technologies and renewable energy. Mr. Gurry said “the greatest opportunity for innovation lies in the areas of clean technologies and renewable energy.” The IP system offers a proven means of encouraging investment in the clean technologies required to adapt to and mitigate climate change. He said that the IP system also offers a range of options to identify, transfer and disseminate those technologies. 

The Conference on Intellectual Property and Public Policy Issues is exploring the specific contribution that IP can make in supporting a range of public policy objectives.  The inter-disciplinary nature of the conference reflects the complexity of the shared challenges that the international community is facing, including climate change, epidemics, public health, food security and the preservation of biodiversity.  The conference is a platform for participants to exchange views on these issues and to improve understanding by all stakeholders of how IP can contribute to development and technology transfer. Presentations and podcasts are available at:  http://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/2009/ip_gc_ge/program.html.

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