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Appropriate technology refers to technology that is suited to its context.
It is not only technology that needs to be appropriate. Rather, the world need:
- Appropriate development to create abundance and end poverty. This is participatory and sensitive to the context.
- Appropriate living - another way to say green living, perhaps, but with more awareness of context.
Social appropriateness of solutions
Solutions which are imposed are generally not appropriate, in that they are often unsuitable and the stakeholders do not feel ownership. The result is a lower likelihood of successful outcomes. See Community participation.
Local and global appropriateness
Local relevance and local needs are often considered key to appropriateness. A technology or practice is considered "appropriate" if its costs and benefits are appropriate to the locality in which it is used.
However, pollution can have far-reaching effects, e.g. by polluting a river, thousands of kilometers of ecosystems and livelihoods may be affected. In particular, greenhouse gases have a global effect, negatively impacting people thousands of kilometers away and decades into the future, then that technology is not "appropriate" for its distant victims. Any zero-carbon technology or lifestyle change adopted today, especially by developed nations, is "appropriate," especially for vulnerable inhabitants of developing nations who then not be affected by the greenhouse gases which are displaced. Technology which mitigates a potentially disastrous impact is appropriate, whether local or global.
Even in a more narrow sense, the climate in a given region is one factor that determines which technologies are appropriate. Given that human activity is now a leading cause of climate change, if not the leading cause, anything which impacts climate change impacts appropriate technology.
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