Building resilient infrastructure, promoting sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation is Goal-9 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), that world leaders adopted at the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Summit held at the UN in September.
With over half the world’s population now living in urban areas, new sustainable industries, mass transport, energy efficiency, information and communication technologies and renewable energy are becoming ever more important. Goal-9 calls for sustained investment in infrastructure, scientific research, innovation and sustainable industries, so as to drive economic growth and development, as well as create new employment opportunities.
Among the targets to reach Goal-9 are developing new, or upgrading existing, infrastructure in terms of better quality, reliability, sustainability and resilience so as to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all.
The goal calls for promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and, by 2030, significantly raising industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product, as well as providing greater access to financial services for small-scale industries and other enterprises along with their integration into value chains and markets.
Another target of the goal is enhancing scientific research, encouraging innovation and upgrading technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, as well as substantially increasing the number of research and development workers and, public and private research and development spending.
With more than 4 billion people still not having access to the internet, and 90 percent in the developing world, bridging the digital divide is crucial to ensuring equal access to information and knowledge, and consequently fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. So an important target of Goal-9 is significantly increasing access to information and communications technology and striving to provide universal and affordable access to the internet in least developed countries by 2020.
Industrialization: Acknowledging that industrialization is a driver of development, Goal-9 calls for inclusive and sustainable industrial development. Industry increases productivity, job creation and generates income, thereby contributing to poverty eradication, greater access to education and healthcare, as well as providing opportunities for social inclusion, including gender equality, empowering women and girls and creating decent employment for the youth.
The mutually reinforcing relationship between social and industrial development and the potential of industrialization to promote, directly and indirectly, a variety of social objectives led the Addis Ababa Action Agenda adopt “promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization” as well as “full and productive employment” as one of its priorities at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, which was held in the Ethiopian capital in mid-July 2015.
Innovation: Meeting sustainable development goals will require action on a number of dimensions, including harnessing and maximizing the potential of technological innovation. Examples of such technologies include carbon capture and storage systems, more efficient irrigation methods, essential medicines, household water purification devices, and manufacturing processes that minimize waste and pollution.
Goal-9 stresses the need to advance knowledge and understanding of how to equitably improve the functioning of the ‘global innovation system’ for sustainable development technologies by leveraging science and technology to meet the most pressing sustainable development challenges.
Infrastructure: The world is on the cusp of a mega-project investment era amounting to US$6-9 trillion annually, or around 8 percent of the global GDP. It involves revamping old infrastructure, developing new sources of energy, providing access to social services and utilities to more people or developing communications infrastructure. Recognizing this, Goal-9 calls for ensuring that the new infrastructure should be resilient, sustainable and of superior quality, while targeting human well-being and access to better living standards for all.
While investments in energy, water, and infrastructure that allow producers to reach the market remain the highest priority, together with social infrastructure, the world also needs schools and clinics in rural villages and in the suburbs of megacities.
Sustainable transport is essential to achieving most, if not all, of the proposed SDGs and although it is not represented by a stand-alone SDG, it is mainstreamed across several SDGs and targets, especially those related to food security, health, energy, infrastructure and cities and human settlements.
However, transportation is a major driving force behind the growing world demand for energy and it is also responsible for one quarter of energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide. Any effective policy response to climate change and keeping global temperature increase below the two-degree Celsius, while ensuring economic growth, needs to develop sustainable transport capable of addressing rising congestion and pollution.
Traffic in Dhaka
How do the 15 million residents of the Bangladeshi capital get to work? The answer is “slowly”.
Dhaka’s now infamous traffic jams have been equated to a loss of $3.86 billion in productivity each year, or around 3 percent of the GDP.
This number is even more striking when one realizes that there are only about 200,000 cars registered in Dhaka, about 3 cars per 1,000 residents nationally, far below developed countries which can reach over 700 per 1,000 residents. The problem is not the number of cars but the fact that they occupy 70 percent of the road space. Unless cars, the preferred choice of transport for Dhaka’s prosperous middle and upper classes, start to make way for mass transit or at least better public transport, Dhaka’s gridlock will never be overcome