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Side-Event: The Role of Technology in the 'Green Economy' and the Need for Technology Assessment
19 Mar 2012 - 19 Mar 2012
6:15 PM - 7:00 PM

UN New York Headquarters, North Lawn Building, Conference Room B

When governments, industry and multilateral agencies tabled their proposals for Rio+20 at the beginning of November, the dominant theme was overwhelmingly that all our environmental woes can be resolved if we invest more in new technologies. Half a century after the birth of the modern environmental movement, every social problem seems to require -- not policies -- but technological fixes. The antidote to disease is genomics; hunger can be sated with biotechnology; the answer to Peak Oil is synthetic biology; the Limits to Growth can be put off by nanotechnology; the cure for Kyoto is geoengineering; the reply to the ?democratic deficit? is the Internet; and, the end of poverty will come when governments adopt the Green Economy.

The focuses are almost exclusively on getting access to new technologies rather than determining whether or not the technologies work or are needed. Climate change and our wider environmental crisis cannot be addressed solely through transferring technologies between rich and poor. The heavy emphasis on new technologies obliges a strengthened global, regional and national capacity to monitor and assess the technologies. To do otherwise would be to incite more distrust and invite disaster.

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