UN Sustainable Development Goals: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
Updated: Jul 1
UN SDG 9 Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were developed in 2015 to advocate for global sustainability by 2030. The SDGs include 17 goals that focus on various sustainability issues on social, economic, and environmental platforms. SDG 9 focuses on “Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure.” The SDG aims to “build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation” (UNSD 2021). This paper will focus on Water’s essential role in achieving the SDG goal and analyze the progress and work yet to be done to achieve SDG 9.
Current State of SDG 9
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in major disruptions to the progress of SDG 9, notably through impacting global manufacturing production and air travel. The manufacturing sector experienced a 6.8 per cent drop in production in 2020, which was an even harder hit to the manufacturing sector than experienced in the 2007-2009 global financial crisis (UNSD 2021). Notable impacts in the sector included declines in manufacturing employment as well as losses in working hours (UNSD 2021).
Air travel similarly experienced major disruptions during the pandemic. A 60 per cent decline in air passengers occurred, dropping from 4.5 billion passengers globally to 1.8 billion in 2020 (UNSD 2021). Airlines experienced major financial losses, and jobs supported by the air transport industry fell by 52.5 per cent over the course of 2020 (UNSD 2021).
Despite major impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, medium- and high-tech manufacturing as well as research and development (R&D) have made notable progress. With the rise in demand for computer electronics due to the global shift of remote work, learning, and e-commerce, medium and high-tech manufacturing showed growth during the end of 2020. The rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines was a critical achievement that emphasizes the importance of innovation in trying times, which has in turn highlighted the importance of investing in research and development (UNSD 2021).
As the world continues to move forward with handling the COVID-19 pandemic and working to progress with industry, innovation, and infrastructure, connectivity must be a central consideration in these efforts. Large portions of the global population still lack connectivity either through rural roadways or cyberspace (UNSD 2021). Rural access index data indicates that almost 300 million out of 520 million rural dwellers lack good access to roads. Additionally, only 51 per cent of the population used the internet in 2019, showing there is still needed improvement in providing universal and accessible internet access (UNSD 2021).
SDG 9 and the Connection to Water
Halted progress on SDG 9 in the face of a global health crisis illuminates the necessity for clean Water and sanitation for all. Accessible clean water and sanitation is essential for maintaining a healthy, growing global population and preventing the spread of future diseases; maintaining health on a global scale enables countries across the world to focus on improving industry, innovation, and infrastructure. Progress on SDG Goal 9 could be greatly aided by progress made on SDG Goal 6 which focuses on ensuring clean Water and sanitation for all, therefore highlighting the interconnectedness between different SDGs as well as the connection to Water they all share. More information on global clean Water and sanitation can be found in Water&’s analysis of SDG 6.
In order to properly address connectivity needs, Water should be a key consideration in building effective and resilient infrastructure. Programs such as FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities “BRIC” Grant Program in the US provide funding as well as technical assistance to pre-disaster mitigation projects that take a more holistic approach to infrastructure, often considering community needs and Water (FEMA 2021). Projects in the US and around the world that emphasize nature-based solutions are essential for developing sustainably as they work with Water rather than generate outcomes that are at odds with the natural hydrological regime of an area. Water connects all people, and it is necessary for the connective pathways we create to work in harmony with Water.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals aim toward global sustainability of social, economic, and environmental development; Water is an essential component in these three sectors and should be a central consideration in industry, innovation, and infrastructure developments, especially in efforts focused on connecting people. Prioritizing clean Water and sanitation can enable progress in industry, innovation, and infrastructure by maintaining a healthier global population and therefore promoting healthier workforces and economies. Water& is committed to protecting Water and researching the UN Sustainable Development Goals to analyze how each one relates to Water. Past Water& SDG analyses include SDG 5 on Gender Equality, SDG 4 on Quality Education, and more. Water is vital for society, the achievement of other SDG goals, and a more sustainable future.
FEMA. (2021). Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities. https://www.fema.gov/grants/mitigation/building-resilient-infrastructure-communities
United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) (2021). 2021 SDG Progress Report Goal 9. https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2021/goal-09/