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Birmingham academics shape World Summit

22 August 2002

Birmingham academics shape World Summit

TWO Birmingham-based academics will influence policies at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg this week (26 August - 4 September).

Aston University’s Professor David Bennett and Kirit Vaidya were specially commissioned by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to produce the innovative ideas to help the world’s poorest countries to develop. Their recommendations give special consideration to improving economies and enhancing social welfare in ways that would not be to the detriment of the environment.

Bennett and Vaidya found that both industrialised and poorer nations could benefit if their recommendations were implemented. The poorer nations would gain the technologies and knowledge of their industrialised counterparts while the technology providers would benefit from the openness of newly created markets.

The academics looked at the way countries including China, Korea and Taiwan have benefited from successful technology transfer and being open to foreign investment. These Asian countries have boosted their economies in recent years by gaining experience in basic industries, including textiles and sportswear manufacturing.

Bennett and Vaidya believe countries in Africa can develop new, environmentally-friendly and locally useful energies including solar power. They could also make use of new communications technology to improve information and training and break into new services, including call centres and data processing.

'It's important that the developing nations don't reach for the skies at this point,' said co-author, Kirit Vaidya, 'and for the industrialised nations to be as open as possible to the needs of such countries and provide appropriate technologies that will help them achieve sensible targets.'

The Aston academics’ recommendations will help form part of the United Nations official policy on technology transfer and as such will be debated at the Johannesburg Summit. UNIDO aims to greatly increase the efforts to support sustainable development to better manage global resources in a rapidly changing world. According to a report from the United Nations, if current patterns of development continue, nearly half of the world's people will suffer from water shortages within the next 25 years. The use of fossil fuels, along with greenhouse gas emissions, will grow and the world's forests will continue to disappear.

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For further information please call 0121 204 4549 or email: b.a.l.coombes@aston.ac.uk

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