Thursday, December 3, 2009

Emerging Technologies/ Emerging Economies Conference

Last month I attended the Emerging Technologies/Emerging Economines: (Nano)technology for Equitable Development conference in Washington D.C. (for conference website click here)
the goal:
"Emerging technologies hold the promise of solving some of the world’s most critical problems. Nanotechnology, along with information technology, biotechnology and other new technologies, has great potential for addressing such challenges as energy and environmental degradation, providing clean water, increasing the availability of sustainable food resources, and combating pandemic diseases. Moreover, increased international collaboration on technological innovation will both help to advance our understanding in these areas, and lessen inequality between the global North and South."

The conference focused on creating a dialogue between multiple groups such as NGOs, goverments, social scientists, and scientists on the use of technology (specifically focused on nanotechnology) for sustainable, equitable, global development. The participants were divided into 4 groups for different applications: Energy, Health, Water, Food Security. I participated in the Energy group.
In our Energy group we had people from all over the world (China, Brazil, India, Mexico, South Africa, Central America, etc) who were working in countries all over the world from Africa to South East Asia and the South Pacific. I was a great opportunity to hear the perspectives from the people living and working in these countries.
During our break-out discussion sessions, our group identified 2 different contexts in which technology is used to help development of the countries.
First, a technology can be applied at a household level. For this application, the use of solar panels with a battery and LED lighting is an ideal technology to provide individuals access to electricity and light. For application at the country-wide level however, this may not be ideal. We talked instead about the need for biomass-based production system such as in Brazil that would allow a country to become globally competitive in generating its own energy.

Overall, this was a great opportunity to interact with scientists, policy makers, NGO managers and government officials from all over the world who are interested in using technology for equitable development.
If you are interested in the conference, powerpoints from the panels are available on the website here.