U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 9:
Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
The U.N. SDGs are driving governments, individuals, universities, and businesses to adjust their practices to achieve benchmarks and secure a sustainable future by 2030. Incorporating SDG 9, Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, into your business will empower you to tackle the unique challenges of development, grow your local economy, become a sustainability leader, and show your customers you prioritize the needs of all. In order to incorporate SDG 9 into your business practices, you must understand the overview of the goal, specific targets, the business case, and best practices for implementation.
What is SDG 9?
SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure is the SDG focused upon creating inclusive and sustainable industrialization to generate employment, income, and equity.
Human society has always been focused on constant innovation and development. Previously, the world developed with a clear purpose to innovate at whatever cost to the planet and the people. While many have secured better lives due to industrialization, there has also been destruction with degraded land, poor living situations, and inequitable growth. The world cannot afford to follow this path of innovation, now is the time to forge a new, inclusive, equitable way to develop industry and infrastructure.
Currently, only 54% of the global population have access to the internet. In the least developed countries around the world, only 19% of the population has internet access. Additionally, 16% of the global population does not have access to mobile networks. Least developed countries have significant potential to add to manufacturing and the global GDP. In 2017, the global share of manufacturing value in added GDP significantly increased due to fast growth in manufacturing in Asia. Renewable energy is one of the sectors with the highest level of capacity investment. In 2019, the amount of added renewable energy capacity was at the highest ever at 184 gigawatts. During this time, wind ranked as the highest investment outranking solar for the first time since 2010. It is critical that emergent nations leapfrog stages of development to prevent further environmental degradation.
Though the expertise and technology exist to aid this, economic growth, social developments, and climate protection and action heavily rely on investments in technology and infrastructure. As of 2019, developing countries continue to surpass developed economy countries in renewable investment by committing $152.2 billion compared to $130. President Biden has released a $2 trillion infrastructure plan that is poised on his website as a “national effort to create the jobs we need to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure and deliver an equitable clean energy future.” The plan encompasses fixing highways and transit systems, delivering clean drinking water, a new electric grid and high-speed internet access to all Americans, transforming and retrofitting existing infrastructure, investing in research and development, and creating good quality jobs.
COVID-19 and SDG 9
Industrial and technological manufacturing took a significant hit during the COVID-19 pandemic causing disruptions to global value chains and supply. This pandemic highlighted the need for resilient infrastructure and industries that can withstand economic and natural shocks. The aviation industry suffered the steepest decline since its creation with passenger numbers decreasing by 51%. Countries and economies that rely on tourism were left without their main source of revenue, highlighting the importance of fostering resiliency. The Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific found that making infrastructure resilient to climate change and disasters like the COVID pandemic will require an additional investment of $434 billion per year, a number that may be even greater in developing countries that already lack the adequate infrastructure and resources.
Basic tenets of SDG 9:
- Build resilient infrastructure
- Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization
- Foster innovation
SDG 9 Targets
The UN has identified 8 targets and 12 indicators for progress in SDG 9. Many of these goals are scaled for national government implementation. However, they can still be applied to business practice on a smaller scale to show a demonstrated commitment for contributing to infrastructure development and innovation.
Below are the most applicable targets and indicators for businesses:
- Develop sustainable, resilient, and inclusive infrastructures
- Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization
- Upgrade all industries and infrastructures for sustainability
- Enhance research and upgrade industrial technologies
- Support domestic technology development and industrial diversification
Why should businesses adopt SDG 9?
Businesses can only exist in a world with successful industry and infrastructure and can only grow at the hands of innovation. Businesses rely on materials, resources, and labor across the world in every aspect of their operations. While there may be an image of uninhibited success within the business world, it completely hinges upon solid infrastructure across the world. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how interconnected people are and how delicate industry truly is. In a world that is rebuilding from a devastating pandemic, businesses must support growth in SDG 9 to secure infrastructure supporting technologies, communications, transportation, and sanitation to enhance equity, progress, and economic growth.
Best practices to foster Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
Below are the best practices for businesses to drive progress in SDG 9:
- Invest in resilient infrastructure at operations in developing countries or revamp existing infrastructure to make it more sustainable.
- Ensure all infrastructure is resilient and can withstand natural disasters.
- Incorporate clean and renewable energy into your company’s power portfolio.
- Ensure you provide fair, equitable pay to promote economic growth.
- Incorporate preferential parking for carpools and charging stations for EVs .
- Expand research and development where possible and enhance geographic reach.
- Give all stakeholders the opportunity to advocate for their needs and offer creative solutions.
- Consult stakeholders along all steps of the process to ensure that development and innovation benefits all.
- Establish thorough and rigorous standards to ensure company projects are carried out, managed properly, and do not contribute to inequities.
- Collaborate with other companies, nonprofit organizations, and the local government to promote sustainable growth and prioritize key actions.
SDG 9 Implementation Examples
Founded in 2012, Sintavia is an innovator in the design, additive manufacturing (“AM”), and material testing of optimized metal parts for the global Aerospace & Defense, Ground Power, Oil & Natural Gas, Space, and Automotive industries. The company’s proprietary manufacturing process is unique in the AM industry and is the first independent manufacturer of its kind to offer a vertically integrated, end-to-end metal additive manufacturing production process.The company is able to additively manufacture precision metal components faster and more economical than traditional casting and forging. This process is also more environmentally friendly and represents the next step in industrial ecology.
Learn more about Sintavia in our GBB Member Story: Sintavia, Innovation for Cleaner Manufacturing
Web Hosting Canada
In Canada, more than 30,000 of these businesses rely on Web Hosting Canada (WHC) – a privately owned, Canadian web infrastructure company and one of the greenest hosting companies in North America. The WHC team is passionate about offering the highest standards in hosting service, reliability and security, but is just as passionate about sustainability and running a green business. Web Hosting Canada’s core business relies on running thousands of energy-consuming computers to power thousands of web sites and applications. Unlike most North American Cloud providers that power their data centers with energy made from traditional energy sources including burning fossil fuels, 100 percent of the WHC’s cloud infrastructure is powered by green energy. Reducing the carbon footprint of their data centers was a top priority for the WHC team, so the company powers all its servers and systems using renewable energy from their Canadian hydroelectric grid. Today, WHC proudly hosts all of their customers in this eco-friendly way.
Learn more about Web Hosting Canada in our GBB Member Story: Web Hosting Canada, This Company’s Cloud Infrastructure is 100% Powered by Green Energy
Business leaders, sustainability managers and green teams can find ways to incorporate SDG 9 into their business models and practices. Here’s a simple playbook for getting started:
- Educate yourself, fellow executives and employees on SDG 9 (U.N. SDG Overview).
- Identify your company’s initiatives that are aligned with SDG 9 already.
- Become active in your trade associations to advocate for SDG 9
- Implement the most impactful initiatives. Green Business Bureau has over 400 to choose from including initiatives related to efficiency, renewable energy, waste management, green procurement, vehicle emissions, water conservation, and pollution reduction.
- Set measurable targets to increase resiliency
- Report on progress routinely. Here’s a sample sustainability scorecard to keep track.
- Communicate your company’s commitment to sustainability. You can reference SDG 9 for the initiatives related to industry and innovation
- Lead by example. Be an ambassador in the business world for developing a sustainable city
You may find that your company has already adopted initiatives that drive SDG 9 action and work to create decent work and economic growth. Educating yourself and your colleagues about the UN’s goals will help you identify which targets are most appropriately aligned with your company’s processes. It is up to you to help turn your business into a platform for good and an icon for building sustainable infrastructure.
SDG Business Guides
For more information on other SDGs, check out our library of Green Business Bureau Business Guides for SDG.
About the Author
GBB Green Ambassador
Leah Mowery is a content writer for the Green Business Bureau who is passionate about using creativity and storytelling to relay the importance of sustainability. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal where she discovered a love for sustainable development. She fostered this interest in her Master’s in Global Sustainability program with a concentration in Climate Change at the University of South Florida. She enjoys painting, reading and all forms of outdoor recreation.