Sustainable Development Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure


Infrastructure refers to the structural systems nations are built on, including roads, transportation services, buildings, and even sewage systems. It is essential to cities’ and countries’ basic functioning, and despite great strides in recent years, many developing countries still lack basic infrastructure. Developing nations are also behind in sustainable innovation and industrialization, vital to economic growth and prosperity. In 2016, the number of researchers per million inhabitants jumped to 1,163, but there were only 91 researchers per million inhabitants in sub-Saharan Africa. To close the gaps in infrastructure, innovation, and industrialization, the United Nations, or the UN, has introduced Sustainable Development Goal 9. 

The Goal 

SDG 9 aims to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation.

Targets and Indicators 

SDG 9 has eight subgoals, or targets. One target aims to create quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure that is affordable and supports economies. Another target challenges all countries to upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries, which add new technology to older technology, to be sustainable by 2030. The UN also has several indicators, which are numbers that reflect progress on targets. One indicator is the proportion of rural populations living within two kilometers of an all-season road. Additionally, the UN hopes to see the CO2 emission per unit of value decrease, which would mean that innovation and industrialization are being done in a way that is less harmful to the environment.

What’s Already Being Done

While there is progress being made, global carbon emissions from fuel combustion began to rise again in 2017, indicating a slowdown in efficiency improvements. The world may not be on track to reach most of the targets of SDG 9, but there are organizations and individuals making headway.

One project pushing for equitable, sustainable innovation is A Planet for Life. It was originally published in French as Sur La Terre and translated online. This publication is authored by global experts and serves as a free digital resource for decision-makers, journalists, and students. The publication writes about environmentally sustainable innovation and promotes cultural diversity. One article spotlights Indigenous communities’ long history of defending natural resources and oppression, calling upon policymakers to respect and protect their rights through legal frameworks. Other articles touch upon the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon, local climate change policy in China, and economic inequity, which are essential to consider when creating equitable infrastructure. 

Applying It: How Everyone Can Help

While it will require drastic action from governments and organizations to achieve SDG 9, you can help too. You can volunteer your time or money at organizations that support SDG 9. You can stay up to date with news on sustainable innovation through publications like A Planet For Life and spread awareness of what you learn. Use your voice to push for everyone’s right to affordable, sustainable infrastructure. Though small, these steps can help the world meet SDG 9!

Think Further

  1. What is one thing you can do to help meet SDG 9?
  2. What do you know about the basic infrastructure of your community? In surrounding communities?
  3. What is affordable housing like in your community? What are the policies surrounding it?


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Learn More

  1. Loundo, et al. “Global Issues versus Local Policies: Lessons from Deforesting the Brazilian Amazon.” A Planet for Life, January 31, 2017.
  2. “The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World – United Nations Sustainable Development.” United Nations. United Nations. Accessed May 29, 2020.
  3. “Goal 9: Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.” United Nations. United Nations. Accessed May 29, 2020.
  4. “Habitat for Humanity Homepage.” Habitat for Humanity, April 30, 2020.