In exactly 9 days, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the successor of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), will be adopted by world leaders at the UN General Assembly. This offers the world one of the most powerful and promising opportunities to shift development patterns towards more equitable, integrated and sustainable pathways. This new agenda will shape the development discourse and action for the coming 15 years, aiming to balance and integrate social, economic and environmental dimensions.
In a growing integrated global economy characterized by competing demands for a range of goods and services, Goal 9 (“Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”) represents a crucial drive for investment in infrastructure that is climate resilient, technologically innovative and research-driven, economically diverse and inclusive – particularly in the global South. As such, it is an important step to making sure that industrialization works for people, the planet as well as economies.
With the adoption of the SDGs we must question how we can achieve competitive, inclusive and sustainable industrialization that allows the world to meet the basic needs, e.g. access to water or mobility, for a dignified life for all. This implies investing in infrastructure that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship. Some policy orientations under the SDGs might include:
- the improvement of global policy and trade regulations enhancing competitiveness and promoting sustainability;
- bridging the infrastructure gap by investing in modern, sustainable and resilient infrastructure including transport, energy, water management and sanitation;
- promoting technologies that are socially relevant and people-smart; and
- building up capacity by investing in vocational training , promoting science and technology and developing a South-South and triangular cooperation platform engaging multiple stakeholders.
We have come a long way. Three centuries ago, the industrial revolution began the transformation to our modern world as we know it. New market opportunities, as well as improvements in reducing trade barriers on technologies, have spurred rapid growth in many economic sectors. Mega infrastructures, such as the Port of Shanghai, the Three Gorges Dam and the Euro Tunnel, were built over the last centuries to support industrialization. Mechanization in agriculture, advances in textiles and clothing, new goods and services and mega infrastructures, as well as booming world trade have led to the emergence of new global economic players (like Brazil and China), job creation and mobile skills. The boost in technological innovations, research and development activities, resulting in the creation of entirely industrialized cities. Our modern modes of transportation and communication have helped to connect all parts of the world, and made an important difference in alerting the world to people’s struggles, such as the Arab Spring in 2010 and the current migration crisis.
On the other hand, the progress humanity has made since the industrial revolution also impacts negatively on people and our planet. Societies and countries are increasingly unequal (see blog on SDG 10) , millions of people have lost their jobs due to automation and more than one billion people still live in poverty (one less than 1.25 USD/day). Pollution (resulting from transport, chemicals, and industries) has had, and continues to have, a major impact on human health – in some cases more than diseases.
Thus the hard won principles of universality and equity that are now well embedded in the new Post-2015 development agenda should shape the discussions and agreements on science, technology and innovation – including the mechanisms designed to facilitate them. Technology facilitation is not only about acquiring technology, but about investing in developing countries to enable them to design, produce and implement their own science, technologies and innovations for sustainable development with possibilities to engage in South-South and North-South cooperation on these.
UNDP is working in close collaboration with various partners to promote the area of industry, infrastructure, and innovation through initiatives such as the Extractive Industries for Sustainable Development, the UN Secretary General’s vision Energy for All, the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre and the Istanbul International Centre, as well as integrating these topics in the UNDP Strategic Plan 2014 – 2017.
The RIO+ Centre co- organized a side-event on the role of Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development at Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3). Read also our Working Paper on Green Growth and get to know the other SDGs at www.globalgoals.org to understand how they are all inter-connected.