WIPO Outlines How It Can Help Meet the Challenges of Climate Change

Geneva, December 16, 2009

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry participated on December 16, 2009 in a series of events related to international climate talks in Copenhagen and outlined how WIPO can contribute to international efforts to mitigate climate change. Mr. Gurry underlined that policies that stimulate the creation and diffusion of technology are key elements in developing an effective and practical global response to the threats posed by climate change. He said judicious use of the intellectual property (IP) system can make a positive contribution in crafting the many and diverse technological solutions needed to attenuate the impacts of climate change.

Speaking at a side event on the theme “International Cooperation on Technology Transfer: Time for Action,” Mr. Gurry said achieving a transformation from a carbon-based society to a carbon-free one is a complex and unprecedented task that will require innovative and complementary approaches to technology policy.

Intellectual property (IP), he said, has an important role to play in technology policy - encouraging investment in the creation of environment-friendly technologies and their rapid dissemination are major policy objectives to which priority must be given. In both cases, the IP system, and in particular patents, are fundamentally important in that they provide a stimulus for investment in green innovation and contribute to a rapid – and global – diffusion of new technologies and knowledge.

Green innovation requires significant private investment. An effective patent system provides an incentive for businesses to make such an investment by making an invention a tradable good which can be licensed or assigned creating opportunities for technology partnerships and commercial return. Effective patent protection can thus spur international technology transfer from the private sector.

Mr. Gurry said the patent system provides the most comprehensive public repository of information on the latest technologies – as all patent documents are published and freely available to the public. This information contains knowledge that already exists and which can support the development of new technologies or help to identify technologies that are off-patent or no longer protected and therefore freely available for use or adaptation. It is necessary to ensure that this information is widely disseminated for instance through tools and services that enhance access to up-to-date information on relevant technologies through patent information resources.

Other speakers at the event included Mr. Jairam Ramesh, India’s Minister of Environment and Forest, as well as the heads of agencies of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the UN Foundation. The event was chaired by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under Secretary-General, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA).

Mr. Gurry will also take part in a high-level panel with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other executive heads of UN agencies present in Copenhagen on Wednesday evening, on the theme: “The United Nations System Delivering as One on Climate Change.” The event will take the form of an interactive discussion with the audience on the UN system’s efforts.


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