The Four I's of SDG 9

SDG9: Infrastructure, Inclusion, Innovation, Industry

The UN reports that approximately 2.6 billion people living in the developing world do not have full access to electricity. 2.5 billion people still don’t have access to basic sanitation, and 800 million of those living in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia do not have access to water. Research shows that inadequate access to infrastructure can result in a lack of access to not just water, but also to markets, education, healthcare, jobs, information, and business. This is why SDG 9 in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is to build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. Industrialization jobs can have positive impacts on the economy. In fact, every one job in infrastructure has the ability to create 2.2 jobs in other sectors. These statistic have lead to some major developments and plans to improve infrastructure in developing countries around the world.

A New Type of Technology

The introduction of mobile methods for financial, communications and environmental monitoring technologies such as cash-transfers and flood warning systems, are already proving successful. In a war-torn country like Iraq, a new cash-for-work program launched by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), is advancing farming infrastructure. The program allows for the most vulnerable members of households who have no other income source, especially women, to earn an income. It was designed by the Belgian Government and supports nearly 12,000 people in 30 conflict-affected villages. Mobile technology makes it easy for those who have worked a certain amount of days to receive an SMS with a personal security code that enables them to have access to their salary through an electronic transfer of funds.

New technologies are being introduced in the Balkans for flood warning. 25,000 homes were destroyed and more than a million people were affected by the landslides and flooding of the Vrbas River Basin in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2014. Characterized by its large rural population and increasingly exposed to the impacts of climate change, the river basin areas in Bosnia have had to adapt to more frequent flooding. The unforgiving floods have tripled in the past three decades, destroying agriculture and energy sources, and making it difficult for the vulnerable families living there to rebuild and recover. Being that advanced warning is effective in saving lives, the UNDP has launched a new flood warning system called, “Technology transfer for climate resilient flood management in Vrbas River Basin”, to help the national government and the vulnerable communities to adapt to future floods. The new technologies for flood management include a Flood Risk Management Plan (FMR), detailed flood hazard maps to help identify the worst hit areas, a flood forecasting system and an early warning system, and emergency response plans.

Places in high altitudes are also highly vulnerable to climate change. Bhutan is the fourth highest country in the world, located in South Asia, on the eastern edge of the Himalayas. It’s high elevation increases the chances of record-setting warming, resulting in serious health issues and natural disasters. Dengue fever is increasing significantly during monsoon seasons since 2004. Malaria and visceral leishmaniasis cases are also on the rise, as the region is being infested by mosquitos and sandflies. The warming has caused the glaciers and water reservoirs to shrink, resulting in more floods and landslides. Similar to the flood forecasting system in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the government has worked to create an epidemiological surveillance system, setting up six centers for health and meteorological research. So far, the data found has resulted in a more informed health system, resulting in more advanced warning on climate sensitive diseases. With assistance from the UNDP and WHO water projects have also been introduced to provide for more sustainable water management techniques. For example, toilets that do not require water to function, have been installed, which has reduced the demand for limited water supply, and the number of people affected by diarrheal diseases has decreased, because waste no longer makes its way into the water supply.

Moving Forward:

-Get involved: stay informed with UNDP projects for sustainable infrastructure, and see what kind of projects are taking pace in your area

-Get creative: If you own a business, stay up to date and make your business more efficient by investing in resilient energy and communications technologies

-Maintain a global mindset- be inclusive and don’t leave marginalized groups behind by ensuring that they have access to these new methods. New infrastructure can bring new possibilities of employment and be valuable to financial services.

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