Trade and Sustainable Development
For more information about CIEL's Intellectual Property & Sustainable Development Project, e-mail Baskut Tuncak or call (1) 202 425 5854.
Intellectual Property and Sustainable Development
Innovation policies will play a key role in addressing many global environmental issues. Intellectual property rights, as temporary privileges over the products of intellectual activity, determine who controls information and technology.
Intellectual property rules fundamentally affect the quality and availability of innovative ideas and products, and are therefore extremely important in achieving sustainable development, ensuring human health, and protecting the environment. The level and scope of intellectual property protection influences the flow of technologies between industrialized and developing countries. The standards of intellectual property protection also impact the control communities have over their traditional knowledge, their access to medicines and education, as well as other such issues fundamental to sustainable development.
CIEL's long-standing project on Intellectual Property (IP) and Sustainable Development works to enhance the participation and influence of developing countries and civil society in regional, bilateral, and multilateral institutions addressing intellectual property. The goals of the project are to:
- Protect the environment and human health through balanced IP laws which are consistent with their underlying policies;
- Promote principles of sustainable development in all IP institutions and processes;
- Ensure equity among developed and developing countries; and
- Safeguard the public domain.
We accomplish this through collaboration in many institutions and processes, including in the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and regional and bilateral trade negotiations. CIEL works to achieve the goals of the projects by:
- providing legal, technical, and strategic support and advice to developing countries and civil society organizations;
- promoting a coordinated and comprehensive perspective of IP-related issues; and
- advancing public awareness and engagement in regards to international intellectual property discussions and negotiations.
Climate Change, Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property
CIEL's work on climate change, technology transfer and intellectual property is focused on ensuring rapid and wide-spread diffusion of technologies to reduce carbon and other GHG emissions, as well as enabling vulnerable countries and communities to have access to the knowledge and technologies that will help them to adapt to the effects of global climate change. CIEL has co-chaired the Climate Action Network (CAN) Working Group on Technology and drafted CAN position papers in the run up to Copenhagen.
In protecting the environment and human health, CIEL works to:
- Integrate principles of sustainable development into climate change negotiations;
- Identify priority technologies for transfer;
- Ensure technology transfer obligations are being met;
- Ensure that multilateral IP rules enable and do not impede the transfer of technology;
- Use flexibilities in IP rules to ensure access for vulnerable countries and communities; and
- Assist in the development of effective financing mechanisms for technology transfer.
For additional information, please see CIEL's Program on Climate Change.
A range of human rights instruments are relevant to IP and Sustainable Development. Many protected rights are directly impacted by climate change, and these impacts are in turn often best addressed by technological means. Therefore, CIEL's project on IP and Sustainable Development has worked closely with CIEL's program on Human Rights & Environment to examine the relationship between international legal regimes addressing human rights, the environment and technology.
CIEL advocates respect for international human rights law in all relevant international fora addressing IP, especially whenever policy options have human rights implications.
For additional information, please see CIEL's program on Human Rights & Environment.
CIEL advocates for technology assessment, to help ensure that the rapid pace of scientific and technological progress is matched by equally vigorous studies on implications for the environment and human health - and the results thereof are accounted for in an appropriate legal and policy framework. CIEL's project on IP and Sustainable Development follows discoveries and applications in the fields of Nanotechnology, Synthetic Biology, Biotechnology, and Information Technology, to help ensure environmentally sound, socially just, and sustainable technological development.
For additional information, please see the CIEL's project on Nanotechnologies.
CIEL's history of collaboration with various NGOs and intergovernmental organizations, such as South Centre, have enabled us to work directly with developing country delegates on intellectual property in trade agreements. CIEL advises developing countries on a range of trade-related issues, including: non-agricultural market access (NAMA), environmental issues (including environmental goods and services) and provisions of FTAs and Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) relating to intellectual property and/or technology transfer. CIEL works to enhance the effective participation of developing countries and civil society in the various fora addressing these issues, including WIPO.
For more information visit CIEL's program on Trade and Sustainable Development.
Biological and Cultural Diversity
CIEL aims to ensure: the prevention of misappropriation of genetic resources and traditional knowledge; international recognition and protection of traditional knowledge and folklore; and the international establishment of disclosure of origin requirements for traditional knowledge and genetic resources linked to a regime for full and informed prior consent and access and benefit-sharing.
The relationship between IP, on the one hand, and the conservation and sustainable use of, and innovation with respect to, genetic resources and traditional knowledge, on the other hand, has become a major strategic challenge for developing countries and indigenous and other local communities.
CIEL provides legal, technical, and strategic support and advice to developing countries and civil society organizations on discussions held in the numerous fora addressing these issues, as explained further below.
Developments in IP are occurring in many fora. The multitude of fora is virtually impossible for indigenous and other local communities, civil society, and most developing countries to manage. The issues in these discussions are interrelated, but fragmented, so what happens in one forum affects possibilities for progress in another. Moreover, discussions occur simultaneously which means that communities, civil society and developing countries cannot cover them all.
CIEL participates meaningfully and effectively in all of these deliberations to enable and encourage cross-fora information sharing, coherence and action by its partners, and to strengthen its capacity-building activities in the Global South. Some of the many fora in which we participate include:
- World Trade Organization (WTO)
- World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
- Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
- United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
- United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and Culture (UNPFII)
- United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
- UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)
- CIEL Worldview - Intellectual Property and Sustainable Development Blog
- South Centre and CIEL IP Quarterly Update
- Trade & Sustainable Development Publications
- Trade & Sustainable Development News
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