Innovation is increasingly a driver of economic growth and has an essential role in responding to global challenges, such as public health, climate change, and food security. At the same time, Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) have acquired unprecedented importance in the emerging knowledge economy. Many countries, in particular developing ones, strive to promote innovation, including through greater use of the IP system, while at the same time seek to implement balanced IP regimes which advance the public interest. In this context, ICTSD acts as a facilitator and knowledge hub working towards operationalising sustainable development in global negotiations on innovation and IPRs while also empowering developing countries to design innovation and IP policies that are supportive of their development objectives.


Though development has been recognised as an important dimension in international IP discussions, translating such recognition in tangible pro-development outcomes remains an ongoing challenge. ICTSD provides impartial and empirically based research outputs which advance options and proposals that contribute towards ensuring the development dimension is effectively mainstreamed in the work of multilateral organisations, such as the WTO and WIPO.


While the need to ensure a proper balance between public and private rights in IP regimes is the subject of growing consensus, many countries – in particular developing ones – are still grappling with how to achieve this in their policies and laws. ICTSD provides strategic inputs to these countries that draw lessons and synthesise relevant cross-country experiences on how to advance public interest considerations in the implementation of IP regimes.


Technology transfer remains a recurrent priority in a variety of international forums. Several mechanisms and agreements seek to encourage technology transfer to developing countries and LDCs. ICTSD strives to advance proposals and novel approaches that would improve their effectiveness based on recent empirical evidence and findings. Particular attention is given to technology transfer to LDCs.

For easy reference to earlier work by ICTSD (2002-2010), particularly in the context of the ICTSD-UNCTAD Project on IPRs and Sustainable Development, refer to