The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) may miss out on the benefits of the “green tech” revolution unless governments and the international community take decisive action now.
“We are at the beginning of a technological revolution based on green technologies. This new wave of technological change will have a formidable impact on the global economy,” said UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan.
In its latest report titled “Technology and Innovative Report 2023,” UNCTAD said the 17 technologies covered have the potential to create market revenues of more than US$9.5 trillion by 2030.
But the report showed that very few developing countries, including the Caribbean, have the capacities needed to profit from such green tech as blockchain, drones, gene editing, nanotechnology, and solar power.
Ranking 166 countries based on information communication and technology ICT), skills, research and development, industrial capacity, and financial indicators, the index is dominated by such high-income economies as the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, and the United States.
It also shows that countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa are the least ready to harness frontier technologies and are at risk of missing current technological opportunities.
UNCTAD notes that used to produce goods and services with smaller carbon footprints, the new wave of green technologies spans artificial intelligence to electric vehicles.
The report calls for coherent policy action to enable developing countries to profit from green tech or risk facing growing economic inequalities, as developed countries reap most benefits.
“Developing countries must capture more of the value being created in this technological revolution to grow their economies,” said Grynspan said.
“Missing this technological wave because of insufficient policy attention or lack of targeted investment in building capacities would have long-lasting negative implications,” she added.
While green tech exports from developing nations rose to US$75 billion from US$57 billion between 2018 and 2021, their share of the global market fell to 33 per cent from 48 per cent. During the same period, green exports from developed countries jumped to US$156 billion from US$60 billion.