Sustainable Development Goals: SDG #9 Crucial Drivers for Economic Growth & Development
By Shani Asokan
Ceylon Today Features
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals that were agreed upon by all United Nations (UN) Member States at the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Summit as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Sustainable Development Goal 9 focuses on industries, innovation and infrastructure. It promotes inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, innovation and infrastructure as these combined together can create and sustain competitive economic forces that generate employment and income. Goal 9 then directly supports Goal 8, as advances in industries, innovation and infrastructure play a role in introducing and promoting new technology, facilitating international trade and enabling the efficient use of resources. These in turn create more jobs and ‘decent work’ for all.
Goal 9 targets
This goal aims to create and develop sustainable and resilient infrastructure that supports economic development and human wellbeing and enables affordable and equitable access for all. This includes the development of regional and transboundary (neighbouring countries) infrastructure.
By 2030 Goal 9 aims to significantly raise industry’s contribution to employment and gross domestic product (GDP) within national contexts, by promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation.
Goal 9 also aims to increase access for small-scale industries, particularly in developing countries. This access is in relation to financial services including affordable credit and their integration into value chains and markets.
This goal also includes an innovation component: to enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors through innovation, research and development. This sub-goal focuses particularly in developing countries. It aims, by 2030 to encourage innovation and substantially increase the number of research and development workers, both in the public and private sectors.
It also aims to facilitate sustainable infrastructure development in developing countries through increased financial, technological and technical support to African countries, least developed countries, landlocked countries and small island developing countries. Financial and technological support extend to domestic technology development, research and innovation in developing countries including help with policy development that is conducive to industrial diversification and value addition to commodities. Additionally, technological support extends to information and communications technology and promoting universal and affordable access to the internet.
How far we have come
In some low-income countries in Africa, infrastructural constraints make businesses 40 per cent less productive. Globally, 2.6 billion people in developing countries do not have access to stable and constant electricity and more than 4 billion people still do not have access to the internet. Ninety per cent of the people who do not have access to the internet are in the developing world. Further, 16 per cent of the global population does not have access to mobile broadband networks.
Further, in developing countries, barely 30 per cent of agricultural products undergo industrial processing. This is incredibly low compared to high income countries where 98 per cent of agricultural products undergo industrial processing. Developing and least developed countries have potential for further industrialisation in food and beverages, and textiles and garments with good prospects for higher productivity and job creation.
Before COVID-19, there were 2.3 million people employed in renewable energy sectors, and research projected that these numbers could rise to 20 million by 2030. However, with the effects of the pandemic, this is now unlikely. Further, before the pandemic, manufacturing growth was on the decline due to tariffs and international trade tensions. Only approximately 35 per cent of small scale industries had access to credit and other financing in developing countries.
Investment in research and development was growing but needed acceleration to meet 2030 goals.
The effects of COVID-19
Manufacturing growth further declined due to the pandemic as manufacturing industries were hit hard, causing disruptions in global value chains and supply of products. Global value chains are were the process of production is distributed across different countries. Lockdowns and border closures contributed to these disruptions.
The aviation industry was hit the hardest by the pandemic, suffering its steepest decline in history. In the first half of 2020, airline passenger numbers fell by 51 per cent, compared to the same period in 2019. These losses have resulted in mass unemployment in this sector.
If anything, the global pandemic has revealed the urgent need resilient infrastructure. The Asian Development Bank notes that critical infrastructure in the region remains inadequate in many countries, despite rapid economic growth and development in the past decade. Research also sheds light on the need to make infrastructure more resilient to disasters and climate change, and the increased investment needed to do this. Greater investment may be needed in some sub-regions of developing and least developed areas such as Pacific small island developing states.
Join us next week for a discussion of SDG 10!