What kind of technologies are best suited to a country’s specific climate change situation? Understanding technology needs is the starting point for effective action on climate change. Before investing in technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change impacts, it is essential to assess and analyse a country’s specific needs, as relates to its specific set of circumstances. This information can then be used to set priorities and identify appropriate technologies. Technology Needs Assessments are designed to do precisely this type of in-depth analysis. Using national sustainable development plans as a starting point, Technology Needs Assessments strengthen countries’ ability to analyse and prioritize climate technologies, guiding them towards implementation of the UNFCCC Paris Agreement.
Acknowledging the importance of technological change in reducing emissions and stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of GHGs, Technology Needs Assessments were directly referenced in the Paris Agreement and helping developing countries conduct effective Technology Needs Assessments and implement Technology Action Plans has become instrumental to the UNFCCC process.
Through the Technology Needs Assessments Project, UN Environment, through UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre, helps developing countries determine their technology priorities for mitigating and adapting to climate change. The Technology Needs Assessment Project is funded by the Global Environment Facility and is implemented in close collaboration with the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism, being the Technology Executive Committee and the Climate Technology Centre and Network.
The Technology Needs Assessments Project follows a country-driven approach. A designated national institution takes the lead, involving a wide range of stakeholders in the process. Working with regional centres of excellence in climate change mitigation and adaptation, the project offers support to participating countries in the form of national, regional, and global capacity building workshops, technical support missions, and technical backstopping through electronic means.
The Technology Needs Assessments methodology is a mature process which has evolved over the 15 years that it has been used in developing countries. Thanks to the information they provide about the potential, ability, and scale of climate change technologies, Technology Needs Assessments can play a unique role in the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions. Actions identified in the Technology Action Plans highlight what needs to be done to activate robust market systems and enabling conditions for technology diffusion and uptake. These actions can in turn strengthen longer-term strategies elaborated in Nationally Determined Contributions and National Adaptation Plans and potentially raise ambitions by making means of implementation more concrete.
The Technology Needs Assessments Project supported 36 countries between 2009 and 2013, and 26 countries between 2014 and 2018. In 2018, 23 additional countries, including mainly Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, joined the project. In 2020, 17 new Least Developed countries and Small Island Developing States joined the project.
For the implementation of the project, UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre works with regional centers in each of the regions (Latin America & Caribbean, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia) to support countries during the Technology Needs Assessment process and to create a greater awareness about technology needs of the countries at the regional level. The regional centers, in close collaboration with UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre, are instrumental in providing technical support to the national Technology Needs Assessment teams.