Eco-Technologies, 'Greening' of Science and Technology Policy

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"The production of electricity for the Internet produces reportedly more CO2 than the whole air traffic"  Karl Egger

 

 

Sustainable development requires the ‘greening’ of science and technology policies.

 

With nearly one billion computer screens lighting up like magic around the world everyday the downside of technologies, even those deemed the cleanest, is that they are violent to nature and the environment, including climate change. ICTs consume more energy than most people believe and have become a major environmental concern.

 

Sustainability must be a pervasive concern of science and technology policies and one of its main objectives. The choice of technologies and technological practices must ensure a sustainable natural resource base and life support system.  This is particularly important in most parts of Africa were the resource base is being degraded and assets depleted through deforestation, desertification, soil erosion and water pollution.  The environment inAfrica is in a poor state and science and technology policies should aim to preserve and rehabilitate it. 

 

The transition to sustainable development cannot be achieved without the effective contribution of science and technology.  A lot of conceptual work has been done on what it means for science and technology to be supportive of sustainable development. For instance:

 

  • Chapter 31 of Agenda 21 provides a good starting point of the role that science and technology can and must play in sustainable development. 
  • The work carried out within the framework of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) and the discussions which are taking place within the framework of the ECA Committee on Sustainable Development (CSD) also provide useful observations and recommendations on the role of science and technology in the sustainable development of Africa. 
  • Follow-up activities of the first Earth Summit (RIO - 1992) and preparatory work carried out in the framework of the second Earth Summit (Johannesburg – 2002) also provide ample insight and meaning of the close relationships between science, technology and sustainable development.

 

 Science and technology must give a high priority to identifying solutions for pressing environmental and developmental challenges.  Science and technology endeavours, including scientific research and experimental development, must be reoriented to support sustainable development.  Investment in the sector for sustainable development must be increased and the role of the scientific community ought to be strengthened.  The international community has also a role to play in Africa for the achievement of sustainable development.

 

Sustainable development requires the 'greening' of science and technology policies, while technological choices must support sustainability.  This means, for instance, giving priority to firewood-saving technologies and technologies that minimize the use of non-renewable resources, such as solar cookers, solar dryers, biogas digesters, energy-efficient stoves, pot coolers, etc.  It also means giving priority to land rehabilitation technologies, agricultural waste recycling technologies, clean production technologies, sewage collection and treatment technologies, technologies to combat desertification and soil erosion, technologies related to sustainable farming practices, choice of suitable crops, cropping sequences and rotation, contour cultivation, strip cropping, terraces and controlled grazing.

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