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Technology Needs Assessments

Cross-sectoral enabler: 
Technology reference: 
Commercial maturity

The Technology Needs Assessment (TNA) process identifies a country’s development priorities. These are derived from ongoing policies, programmes and projects, long-term vision documents as well as strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation already in place. These development priorities are used along with climate mitigation and adaptation criteria for identifying highest priority (sub) sectors, and for prioritising technologies for mitigation and adaptation within these (sub) sectors. Since 2001, more than 80 developing countries have conducted TNAs to address climate change. More recently, many countries have identified climate technology needs in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). All developing countries may receive support to conduct a TNA. To find out more about conducting a TNA, contact UNEP DTU or the UNFCCC secretariat. Read about the experiences of developing countries that have undertaken TNAs and implemented their TNA results.

Relevant CTCN Technical Assistance

Relevant Technology Needs Assessments


The TNA process maps out a country’s long-term development priorities and also identifies technologies to realise these with lower emissions and stronger climate resilience. As a next step, the TNA identifies and analyses barriers hindering deployment and diffusion of the prioritised technologies, as well as measures to overcome these barriers, including enabling frameworks for the technologies (see Figure 1). A key outcome of the TNA process is the technology action plan (TAP). A TAP is a concise plan for the uptake and diffusion (transfer) of prioritised technologies that will contribute to the country’s social, environmental and economic development and to climate change mitigation and adaptation. A TAP is usually made up of numerous specific Actions. Often, the TAP is technology-specific, but it can also cover a portfolio of technologies where the same set of Actions benefits all technologies.

Figure 1. Technology Needs Assessment process.

The actions in a TAP can take different forms. For example, an action can be a technology demonstration project, with the aim of overcoming public opposition to that technology. Another example of an action could be a programme to train local engineers, in order to address the barrier of a lack of skills to operate a specific technology. An action could also aim to overcome indirect barriers to technology uptake or diffusion, with associated co-benefits, such as the provision or upgrading of infrastructure.

A TAP can focus on a single technology with larger-scale potential within a country or sector, or on a portfolio of technologies for which common actions apply (e.g. a bus-rapid-transit system together with cycling lanes and pedestrian footpaths). Based on the portfolio of priority technologies within sectors and/ or the identified barriers, the TNA team may conclude whether or not commonalities exist across multiple prioritised technologies, and whether these justify a TAP that covers a portfolio of technologies.

A TAP should build upon already completed or ongoing relevant processes within the country, such as nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) and/or national adaptation plans (NAPs),4 to use already existing insights and data and enhance consistency of different processes. In addition, TAPs can be important sources of information for countries when preparing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). After all, a TAP supports implementation of low emission or climate resilient technologies, which, under normal, business-as-usual circumstances would not have been implemented, due to existing barriers.5 Finally, TAPs can be a source of information for countries’ National Communications and Biennial Reports as they contain specific actions identified for improving countries’ enabling environment, for the large-scale adoption of low emission and climate resilient technologies and measures.

Finally, there is a role for the Nationally Designated Entity (NDE) in the process of preparing and implementing TAPs as they facilitate any support to their country from the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). Specifically, for each Step in this guidance, countries can request technical assistance from the CTCN. The CTCN can also support the application of this guidance for developing or updating action plans for technologies prioritised through other national processes, including in Phase I of the global TNA project

For a guide to implementing TNA's see Enhancing implementation of Technology Needs Assessments

For a guide on how to mainstream gender in TNA's see TNA Gender Guidebook

Case studies

Success story- Helping Ecuador Reduce Greenhouse Gases and Boost Energy Access: With the help of the Technology Mechanism, Ecuador is planning to reduce greenhouse gases and boost energy security. The Latin American country has identified that waste-to-energy technologies such as anaerobic digesters, which converts animal waste into biogas, can play a key role in reducing emissions and bringing energy to those most in need. Identification of this opportunity became concrete when Ecuador undertook a UNFCCC technology needs assessment between 2009-2012, through which the country identified its key technology needs and priorities with regards to climate change.



UNFCCC and UNEP DTU Partnership