Sustainable Development Goals


Quality infrastructure and sustainable industrial development boost productivity, incomes and standards of living, leading to better health and education outcomes. Technology and innovation will be critical to addressing environmental and economic challenges that come with industrial development and an increasing world population.

It is estimated that approximately 2.6 billion people in the developing world struggle to access reliable electricity, 1-1.5 billion people worldwide have no reliable phone service and 2.5 billion lack access to basic sanitation.1

In 2015, in the Asia Pacific region alone, there were 20 countries where less than 2% of the population had fixed broadband.2

By world standards, Australia has good infrastructure, however additional investment is needed to ensure infrastructure remains adequate as the population approaches 30 million by 2031.3 Australia also has opportunities to ensure continued economic growth is environmentally sustainable. Goal 9 also highlights opportunities for investment in science and technology.

How is this relevant to business?

The efficiency of business depends on efficient, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including transport, water and waste utilities, information and communication networks.

Investment in new infrastructure is also a significant opportunity for many businesses.

What can business do?

Using networks more efficiently, supporting research and development and placing emphasis on innovation and technological advancement will aid sustainable development.

Business also needs to consider how it can help infrastructure be more resilient and look for opportunities to collaborate with government partners and other businesses. For example, the right mix of businesses in an industrial park could lead to a sharing of expertise and logistics, and present opportunities to reduce waste through recycling or re-purposing.

Act Responsibly

  • Review current transport and building infrastructure to identify and address inefficiencies
  • Build and invest in environmentally responsible and resilient infrastructure
  • Integrate rigorous social and environmental impact assessments and mitigation strategies into major infrastructure project development proposals (for example, using Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia)

Find Opportunity

  • Contribute data and industry knowledge to local research and development initiatives to drive innovation and capacity building
  • Explore the potential of digital applications
  • Collaborate with governments and other businesses to find and unlock benefits from interdependency opportunities
  • Develop public-private partnerships for infrastructure investment; generation of energy in urban areas and shared use rail, road, power, water and telecommunications
  • Incorporate sustainability and resilience features into capital projects and incorporate long term value-add project planning for local communities
  • Implement local procurement and employment initiatives, contributing to the development of a local industry
  • Build cross-sector partnerships to unlock complementary investments in sustainable, resilient transportation infrastructure and technology
  • Invest in social infrastructure (such as schools and healthcare facilities) to give educated people the confidence to relocate from urban areas


Links between Goal 9 and the UN Global Compact’s ten principles

Human Rights & Labour (UN Global Compact Principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Lack of access to infrastructure exacerbates inequality.

Quality infrastructure supports economic development as well as broader social and environmental benefits. These all contribute to human well-being, linking directly to the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognises the right of everyone to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications. However, infrastructure projects can harm some.

“Often it is the most vulnerable – ethnic minorities and women – who suffer most in the name of progress. Without warning they can be forced from their homes to make way for cranes and construction crews. Mostly they are not compensated for their loss and rarely do they share in any profits. And many are subsistence farmers and fisherfolk whose survival is dependent on the land – whose subsequent loss of home and access to natural resources forces them deeper into poverty.” (Oxfam)

Environment (UN Global Compact Principles 7, 8, 9)

Infrastructure projects by their nature tend to be enormous and long-term. Where they are built, how they are built, the technology they use and other considerations around the pollution and waste products all have environmental ramifications. Innovation and technological advancements are key to reducing the environmental toll of such projects and maximising the social benefits.

Anti-Corruption (UN Global Compact Principle 10)

It is estimated that emerging economies are likely to need US$22 trillion of investments in infrastructure over a single decade, but corruption poses a major risk and could siphon off up to a third of the money earmarked for this sector out to 2030.  (United Nations Development Programme, 2015)


1 United Nations,

2 Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development 2017,

3 Infrastructure Australia (2016),

4 Department of the Environment and Energy (2016),

5 Infrastructure Australia (2016),


Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all

Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and, by 2030, significantly raise industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product, in line with national circumstances, and double its share in least developed countries

Increase the access of small-scale industrial and other enterprises, in particular in developing countries, to financial services, including affordable credit, and their integration into value chains and markets

By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities

Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending

Facilitate sustainable and resilient infrastructure development in developing countries through enhanced financial, technological and technical support to African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States

Support domestic technology development, research and innovation in developing countries, including by ensuring a conducive policy environment for, inter alia, industrial diversification and value addition to commodities

Significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020



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