Technological change is one of the key arms in our arsenal of weapons to combat climate change. A country’s capabilities to drive and enable this change thus take on a critical role. The implications of our ability to manage a climate technology transition are enormous: a recent study suggests that to keep the global rise in temperature to less than 2 °C, the additional cost of deploying energy technologies between 2016 and 2050 is USD 40 trillion (IEA, 2015). As developing countries may account for up to 90 per cent of energy demand growth to 2050 (IEA, 2015), the importance of their technological capabilities to manage this transition effectively and efficiently cannot be overstated. A country’s technological capabilities are determined in part by the effectiveness of its national system of innovation (NSI). An NSI is a network of actors, institutional contexts and linkages that underlie national technological change. The NSI should thus play a central role in supporting a country’s efforts to enhance action on climate change mitigation and adaptation. It also helps a country to meet other developmental challenges and add value to its national economy.

An NSI consists of:

• Actors: Organizations that participate in technology development and transfer e.g. technology firms, universities and financiers

• Institutional context: Norms, cultural practices and laws that shape actor efforts e.g. government policies that affect how the private sector invests in a particular sector

• Linkages: Interactions and relations between the actors and the institutional context e.g. flows of information and knowledge, and collaboration between firms, universities and research institutes

We, the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) of the UNFCCC, acknowledge the key role that NSIs play in combating climate change. In this TEC Brief, we outline the current state of NSIs in developing countries. We then highlight how developed countries and the international community may work together to support these countries in strengthening their NSIs, enhancing both national climate action and sustainable development. 

Publication date
Type of publication
Technology Compendium
Cross-sectoral enabler
Capacity building and training
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