Cleantech and Developing Countries* 

Posted on 27 Apr 2021

When do innovations come about?
A.    When the right climate (got it?) prevails. 
B.    When the need is there.
C.    Both A and B.

If your answer was A, B or C, then you have won!

When we think of (highly) technological innovations, we tend to think of developed countries rather than developing countries. Nevertheless, the need for technological innovations is present in both. Just like the western world, climate change is not ignoring developing countries. Indeed, they are victims of climate change just as we are, yet they feel its effects earlier and stronger than developed countries. The consequences of climate change are far from negligible: Solomon Islands disappearing as a result of rising sea level, reduced biodiversity, extinct species, drought, flooding and crop failures. 

Green innovations offer opportunities that developing countries desperately need. That is why the green economy is receiving a lot of attention in developing countries. Over the past decades, many countries have worked to build a solid foundation by investing in talent and education and by reducing local bureaucracy. Different levels of governments support companies that focus their activities on the green economy both materially and financially. This has a broad range of implications: from the reduction of emissions, waste and river water treatment, drinking water supply, the circular use of materials, to the sustainable exploitation of natural resources. 

Flemish companies that have the potential to meet these challenges with appropriate solutions to the undesirable consequences of climate change should not miss the opportunity. Solutions can come in the form of capacity buildings or innovative clean technologies. Capacity building focuses on strengthening knowledge and skills at different levels: capacity building of individuals, organisations and society as a whole.

Each country has different priorities and emphasizes on different aspects, that is for sure. CO² is a volatile gas: it does not stop at the border. Considering some justice, climate solutions therefore should not stop at borders. Technology isn't but technology: cleantech is not the climate solution, but it is part of it. There is no good or bad technology: technology is either applied in a good or poor manner. That is why it is worthwhile investigating whether clean or climate technologies can be applied in developing countries. 

Frans Snijkers
Director Cleantech Flanders

*Countries in development, also called OECD countries: see the OECD list for this:

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