Most of the environmental problems of today result from the technological choices of yesterday. Therefore, ecological restructuring of the world economy calls for the choice of cleaner technologies now and in the future. In this connection, "industrial metabolism" may be a powerful analytical concept for the assessment of candidate technologies.
As the world goes through an extraordinary period of reorganization politically, economically and militarily - the environment has become a concern of decision makers everywhere. In this context an ecological orientation of policies could emerge, based on the global industrial metabolism concept that implies both the delinking of economic growth from energy- and materials-intensive inputs and preventive approaches to economic restructuring.
Countries and organizations are affected differently by these developments. Industrial countries, by and large, have the knowledge and the financial resources necessary to respond to these challenges. But most countries on earth are small developing countries, which have limited capacity to take initiatives and must be helped towards a sustainable development path. Some organizations fear the additional costs of economic restructuring whereas others, who are ready for it, see many opportunities ahead.
Any analysis of the transfer of technologies to developing countries thus requires the use and understanding of several key concepts: sustainable development; clean technology; industrial metabolism; knowledge and technology transfer; and endogenous capacity, i.e. the capacity for managing technological change.
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