Goal 9 is based on the three interconnected pillars of infrastructure, industry and innovation and aims to ensure universal availability of basic services which support economic growth, for example technology, communication and transportation. According to the Global Infrastructure Outlook, global investment in infrastructure will need to reach $94 trillion by 2040 to keep pace with economic and demographic changes. China, India and Japan account for 39% of this total, and the sectors most in need of investment are electricity and roads.
The number of people connected to the internet has tripled in the last decade, yet four billion people (60% of humanity) have no access. Only 11% of households in developing countries had internet access at the end of 2016 compared to 84% in developed countries. Mobile coverage is more universal: in 2016, 95% of the world’s population and 85% of people in less developed countries had mobile coverage, although the cost of data remains a barrier for many. Investment in research and development and innovation is critical to driving sustained economic growth. While global research and development expenditure has grown, wide disparities exist. According to the UN, in 2013, developed countries dedicated 2.4% of their GDP to research and development, while the figure for developing countries was less than 0.3%.
Opportunities & Challenges
Opportunities and challenges to accelerate development of sustainable infrastructure and innovation include:
SME Finance: SMEs are a crucial contributor to industry in emerging markets, contributing up to 60% of total employment. However, 200 million SMEs lack access to affordable financial services and credit. When firms gain access to financial services such as credit and insurance, they can accumulate assets, expand their firms, make more productive investments and create jobs.
Supporting rural markets and services: Investments in local infrastructure and technologies, such as clean and efficient water pumps, cook stoves, mini-grids and mills can support local and inclusive growth. Investment in reliable and resilient infrastructure enables access to services, markets and helps increase agricultural and business productivity.
Smart infrastructure: Developing countries face a large infrastructure deficit, which will be exacerbated by population growth and urbanization. Cities are expected to require new built floor space equivalent to 85% of today’s building stock, and 2.5 times today’s level of port infrastructure to meet rising container shipping demand. Most of this infrastructure growth will be required in developing markets. It is estimated that Africa has a $55 to $60 billion public deficit spend on infrastructure each year.
Upgrading transport and logistics networks: As the pace of economic growth and industrial development accelerates, transport and logistics systems will need to keep pace. Developing markets often have the poorest transport systems, and regions such as Africa are growing too quickly for road systems to keep pace.
The main sustainability benefit of technology will be efficiency and reduction of waste – doing the same things we do today, but more efficiently.Philip Sparks, Arm
Technology in action
Digital technology will play a key role in addressing these challenges:
Robotics, IoT, sensors and AI have the potential to revolutionize manufacturing by lowering costs and radically improving efficiency and waste. These technologies maximize productivity and efficiency by providing information needed for allocation of limited resources such as energy, materials and water. GeSI estimates ICT, through smart manufacturing, agriculture, buildings and transportation, could generate over 12 Gt CO2e abatement by 2030. For example, connected vehicles or digital warehouses can optimize transport and logistics networks to promote cost-efficiency and reduce environmental impact.
3D printing can improve materials efficiency by streamlining the prototyping process and improving the economics of short-run manufacturing, avoiding the waste associated with mass production. HP recently announced plans to sell 3D printers that produce metal objects, an expansion of its existing printers that deliver plastic products.
Drones and other aerial robotics could take pressure off existing road systems – adding transport capacity, enabling more efficient transportation of medicines, spare parts and other products. As the cost of robotics declines, these technologies will become more accessible.
Cloud computing allows SMEs to operate more efficiently without the infrastructure that might not be available or the capital investment of larger rivals. Peer to peer platforms, tech-powered angel investing ecosystems and mobile money can help SMEs better access capital.Get Involved