International Partnerships

Industry, innovation, and infrastructure

The 9th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG9) pursues 3 interdependent objectives that are fundamental to empower communities and achieve sustainable economic growth and development around the world, without leaving anyone behind:

  • Resilient infrastructure - Develop quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure, accessible for all in an affordable and equitable way
  • Sustainable industries - Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, with the aim of doubling industry’s share of employment and revenue in the least developed countries (LCDs) by 2030 and improving access to finance for small-scale industrials
  • Innovation - Encourage innovation, scientific research, and technological upgrades to make infrastructure and industries more sustainable and respectful of the environment

According to the UN, developing countries have a huge yet underexploited potential for industrialisation and innovation. For example, the manufacturing value added per capita in LCDs is 45 times lower than in Europe and, in developing countries, only 30% of agricultural production undergoes industrial processing, compared to 98% in high-income countries. Basic infrastructure –roads, energy grids, water and sanitation infrastructure, and information and communication technologies – remain scarce in developing countries: approximately 1.2 billion people don’t have access to reliable phone services, 2.3 billion people lack access to basic sanitation, and nearly 800 million people lack access to water. These constraints also affect the overall productivity rates of developing countries, especially in Africa. Moreover, unsustainable industrial processes causing high carbon dioxide emissions too often remain the norm in developing countries.

Achieving SDG9 is an essential part of our cooperation work. Developing better infrastructure is crucial to eventually improve human well-being and industrial productivity and competitiveness. Through blending, we increasingly invest in infrastructural projects that have a multiplier effect on our partner countries’ sustainable development. We support our partner countries’ industrial transition towards sustainable processes and technologies, which will allow them to increase their productivity and competitiveness, while respecting the environment. We also act to improve access to financial services and technologies in our partner countries, in line with our ambition to leave no one behind and foster inclusive growth.

Our policy approach to sustainable development is broad and inclusive. Our work on SDG9 is closely linked to other SDGs and includes credit and research for technological advances, developing value chains, and promoting good business practices. Our programmes have so far focused on physical and mobile connectivity, coupled with policy and sector reform, to ensure cost-effective investments that yield returns. Together with EU countries, one of our priorities is to support the extension of broadband connectivity and digital infrastructure, especially in rural areas, and to promote digital literacy, skills, and entrepreneurship, including among women and young people.

Our impact