SDG 9: Industries, Innovation and Infrastructures

Sustainable Development Goal 9 addresses three important aspects of Sustainable Development: infrastructure, industrialization and innovation. Infrastructure provides the basic physical facilities essential to business and society; industrialization drives economic growth and job creation, thereby reducing income inequality; and innovation expands the technological capabilities of industrial sectors and leads to the development of new skills.

Investments in infrastructure – transport, irrigation, energy and information and communication technology – are crucial to achieving Sustainable Development and, waht is more, empowering communities in many countries. It has long been recognized that growth in productivity and incomes, and improvements in health and education outcomes require investment in infrastructure, which links this SDG to many others.

And we should not neglect the fact that technological progress is the foundation of efforts to achieve environmental objectives, such as increased resource and energy-efficiency. Without technology and innovation, industrialization will not happen, and without industrialization, development will not happen.


Manufacturing is a foundation of economic development, employment and social stability However, inequalities in the value added in the manufacturing sector point to the steep challenges faced by the most disadvantaged countries, as well as their potential for growth.

For example, in 2015, manufacturing value added (MVA) per capita was less than 100 US dollars a year in the least developed countries (LDCs) compared to 4,926 US dollars in developed regions.

In terms of GDP of developed regions, the share of MVA was estimated at 13%, a decrease over the past decade owing largely to the increasing role of services in these regions. In contrast, the share of MVA in GDP remained relatively stagnant for developing regions, increasing marginally from 19% in 2005 to 21% in 2015.

Those values hide substantial differences, with MVA contributing over 31% to GDP in Eastern Asia and 10% or less in both Sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania. The least developed countries face particular challenges in industrializing. Although those countries represent 13% of the global population, they contribute less than 1% of global MVA.

Significant investment is needed in the LDCs to boost technological progress and economic growth, and to achieve the target of doubling industry’s share in the gross domestic product of these countries where agricultural and traditional sectors remain the main sources of employment.

Carbon dioxide emissions per unit of value added

As countries shift to less energy-intensive industries, cleaner fuels and technologies, and stronger energy efficiency policies, almost all regions have shown a reduction in the carbon intensity of their GDP.

The proportion of the world’s energy use covered by mandatory energy efficiency regulation has almost doubled over the last decade, from 14% in 2005 to 27% in 2014. More extensive deployment of clean technologies will increase the likelihood of achieving the proposed target of upgrading infrastructure and retrofitting industries to make them sustainable, with increasingly efficient use of resources and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes.

Here we have to remember, that this is the evolution of CO2 emissions coupled to GDP. But on a global scale, emissions increased from 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 1900 to over 36 billion tonnes 115 years later. And whilst data from 2014 to 2017 suggested global annual emissions of CO2 had approximately stabilized, data from the Global Carbon Project reported a further annual increase of 2.7% in 2018.

What does this mean and what does this look like?

The highest percentage of MVA in GDP can be found in Puerto Rico, where this figure has increased since 2007 when this country’s economy experienced a sharp downturn.

This sector in Puerto Rico produces mainly pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, and electronics. The real estate and tourism industries are also very strong. However, the unemployment rate is around 10%.

The last one hundred years have been quite rough for Puerto Rico, especially regarding its politics and the incidence of hurricanes on the island. But again, being such a paradisic spot, we can find different stories from devastation to beauty.

After Hurricane Maria in 2017, electricity was a great challenge for several areas in Puerto Rico.

Bird’s-eye view of Puerto Rico

There are also alternative stories, such as this of Sustainable Farmers.

And, last but not least, the most famous Puerto Rican is helping to promote the island.