Investment in infrastructure and innovation are crucial drivers of economic growth and development, and are key to finding lasting solutions to both economic and environmental challenges. Promoting sustainable industries and investing in scientific research and innovation are all important ways to facilitate sustainable development. More than 4 billion people still do not have access to the Internet, and 90% are from the developing world. Bridging this digital divide is crucial to ensuring equal access to information and knowledge, as well as fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.1 SDG 9 is further refined by targets that can be more easily translated into actions. These targets highlight the interconnected nature of the goals. For example, strategies to support inclusive industrialization and innovation also promote progress toward SDG 5 (Gender Equality) and SDG 8 (Decent Work & Economic Growth). Below are a series of synergies that can come from providing access to products, services and systems that work to drive Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.
Invest in Fair Treatment and Equal Opportunity
Recent research points to a strong connection between openness to different cultures and ideas, and the ability of a place to adapt to economic changes and grow.2,3 Currently, however, not all are equally able to innovate. Women have more difficulty acquiring external business financing than men, and only received 2% of all venture capital in the US in 2017.4,5 Disparities in financing opportunities also extend into microfinance, where evidence has emerged of discrimination against disabled micro-entrepreneurs.6 Fostering inclusive growth depends on removing these biases and connecting all with opportunities to contribute to innovation.
Invest in Financial Services
Sophisticated financial services will provide smooth cash flows and enable individuals and businesses to accumulate assets while making productive investments. Small businesses require financing to grow, and currently there is a lack of financial institutions that can support small to medium-sized enterprises through traditional loans or a line of credit.7 As additional financing for SMEs is more available, national productivity and social welfare can be improved as there is additional access to employment and resources. Technology can be used not only to facilitate payment transfers but also to access banking services remotely, making financial services available imore broadly.8
Invest in Telecommunication Systems
In the last decade the number of people that are connected to the internet has tripled. This still leaves 60% of people lacking internet access globally. Mobile and wireless coverage are more available than household internet access, and the cost of data prohibits access for many.9 Communication technologies play a role in almost all industries including health, education, agriculture, finance, transportation, energy, and commerce. With the advancements in infrastructure and innovation in technologies, telecommunication services will be available at a lower cost and higher speeds.10
Invest in Affordable, Sustainable and Modern Energy
Access to affordable, sustainable modern energy encompasses the ability to improve living conditions through lighting, education, and fresh water. Available forms of energy in many places are not only time-consuming to gather and inefficient, but also unhealthy and unsafe. A lack of developed infrastructure globally shows that approximately 20% of people live without electricity, and 50% of all households and 90% of rural households use solid fuels for cooking and heating. These include unprocessed biomass, coal, or charcoal.11 The danger from indoor use of these materials lies in the chemicals produced when burning in confined areas; solid fuels in households accounted for 2.2 million deaths in 2005.12 Access to electricity and biomass cookstoves can boost economic development and reduce poverty and hunger, improving conditions for the poorest segments of society. Improvements lead to greater outputs in agriculture, commerce, and industry with greater more efficient production. 13
Invest in Clean Water including Sanitation and Hygiene
Worldwide, three out of four jobs are water dependent. Investment in water infrastructure not only promotes health initiatives and job creation in developing areas but also stimulates advancement toward green economies.14 In agrarian communities where agriculture supports not only the economy but also acts as the main food source, access is critical to sustainable growth. Infrastructure that supports maintenance, reduction, reduction, recycling, and reuse of water must be put in place, updated and supported.15 Sound water management involves supply, infrastructure, and wastewater treatment.
Invest in Clean Air
With the modernization of societies globally, infrastructure and industry need to be designed in a way that reduces contributions to climate change. Since the industrial revolution, there has been an unsustainable rapid increase in carbon dioxide emissions causing global warming.16 Industries need to focus on reducing waste and becoming more sustainable with environmentally practical process and technologies.17 Investment into energy efficiency and an increase in investment in low-carbon initiatives through innovation across industries will support clean air practices.18 In addition to providing clear health benefits, clean air has also been linked to broader economic benefits as it results in more productive workforces and healthier populations who save on avoided medical expenses.19
Invest in Safe, Affordable and Sustainable Transportation
Transportation and infrastructure development support economic growth through industries. Additional infrastructure makes the transportation of goods easier, faster and less expensive. Advanced transportation infrastructure supports complex supply chains globally, nationally and regionally with the movement of goods and people. Establishing trade routes and partners across these categories links economic functions in the distribution of goods from producer to consumer. Progress in developing advanced infrastructure supports economic growth as more jobs are accessible to those who would otherwise not have access.
SDG 9: References
5 International Finance Corporate (2013f) ‘International Finance Corporation Enterprise Finance Gap Database’.
6 Discrimination by Microcredit Officers: Theory and Evidence on Disability in Uganda https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1722122