Technical Creativity Needs Nurturing at the Grassroots Level
Efforts to promote sustainable development must tap into technologies developed locally, driven by community needs and priorities. The products of modern science and technology (S&T), from chemical pesticides to carbon-emitting combustion engines, are frequently blamed — with some justification — for the unsustainable use of the planet’s resources.
At the same time S&T offers a variety of tools for sustainable development — from forms of pest control that work with, rather than against, natural ecosystems, to cost-effective devices for producing renewable energy. This creates a dilemma. We cannot reject technological tools in the quest for a sustainable future. But equally, without a radical transformation of how society defines and uses S&T, current patterns of growth and use of resources are unlikely to change. Providing greater support for grassroots innovation in the developing world could be an important part of such a transformation: it encourages technological development from the ground up, and nurtures the creative and technical skills of communities.