Can The Future Be Discovered?

by Dr. Henry I. C. Lowe, Richard Kelly, Prof. Anthony Clayton

Kingston, Jamaica

The development and enforcement of standards

Standards are important to ensure local and international quality and competitiveness of products and services. Many developing countries are finding it quite challenging to meet international trade and other standards because they lack the infrastructure, technical expertise and technology to effectively sustain a comprehensive standards programme. As such, many advanced nations require more stringent standards for exports from developing countries. An inability to meet these standards can result in detrimental consequences for trade in developing nations. Standards are also important to minimizing health risks within these countries. For example, many countries lack the capacity to properly test certain kinds of imported foods and other products which can threaten the health of their population. Therefore, efforts to improve R&D, institutional strengthening and the general standards and metrology framework and facilities are important for developing countries.


Protection of the natural environment and sustainable use of natural resources

In many developing countries natural resources are exploited wantonly and environmental degradation is a persistent problem. This is partially due to pervading poverty and the fiscal constraints under which many such societies operate. Many ecosystems in these countries

are significantly impacted by human-induced activities and the irony of the situation is that the economic activities are often intricately tied to their natural resources. For instance, in the Caribbean, sun, sea and sand tourism is one of the predominant earners of foreign exchange.

Tied to broad environmental management is the urgent need to manage freshwater resources, especially in light of the impending impacts of climate change. In addition, in many countries such as some of those in Sub-Saharan Africa, sanitation which is closely tied to the availability of water, poses a serious threat to health.

Climate change represents one of the greatest challenges to developing countries. Not only do such countries want to develop their economies but they are impelled to do so in an environmentally sustainable way. Climate change poses a serious threat especially SIDs and those countries that are already suffering from significant environmental degradation. Climate change adaptation and mitigation is particularly challenging for developing nations due to fiscal constraints and a myriad of other problems. However, appropriate technology should be employed to improve efficiency and productivity and help boost environmental management. In light of concerns about climate change, developing countries should therefore seek to move towards a “green or low carbon economy.”


Given the increasing frequency and severity of natural (and manmade) hazards, looming effects of climate change, population increase and the availability of land, and issues relating to energy efficiency and conservation, it is imperative that developing countries revise and

improve their building codes and building technology. International agencies such as the Organization of American States (OAS) through its Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project have prepared general guidelines for building for Caribbean countries. Over the past five years, some Caribbean countries such as Jamaica, Grenada, Haiti and Cuba have suffered severe damage to their housing sector from hurricanes and the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti exposed the poor quality of buildings in some countries. In addition to being of poor quality, many construction projects in developing countries experienced significant

cost overruns. Efficiency, both in project management and building technology are therefore critical. Adhering to building codes and using leading edge technologies is essential.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)

There is now growing evidence that ICTs can play a significant role in enhancing development by:

  • reducing poverty
  • improving and expanding access to education
  • health and other basic services
  • increase business efficiency and competitiveness
  • aid diffusion of information
  • promote environmental protection.

The impact of ICT is especially being seen in the developing world

where people are gaining better access to information. While there is still a wide gap in the use and access to ICTs between developing and developed countries, this gap is gradually shrinking, especially in the area of mobile penetration (Figure 16). In 2007, for instance, 69 per cent of the world’s mobile subscribers came from developing countries (ITU, World Summit Report, 2008). In fact, mobile telephony is the most predominant mode of telecommunications in most developing societies…