Investing in innovation and infrastructure: Key aspect to promote economic growth and sustainable development
“Exploration is the engine that drives innovation. Innovation drives economic growth. So let's all go exploring.” — Edith Widder
As pointed out by the U.N., investment in infrastructure and innovation are crucial drivers of economic development. Likewise, mass transportation and renewable energy are fundamental aspects of potential progress, as are information and communication technologies. In this regard, promoting sustainable industries and investing in research innovation represent the best ways to address economic and environmental challenges, foster entrepreneurship, provide new jobs, promote energy efficiency, and facilitate sustainable development. With over half of the world’s population now living in cities, infrastructure development is another key element to promote future progress.
Let’s dive into the current situation on the achievement of Goal 9, on the basis of countries’ performances on innovation, industrial, and infrastructure development.
As for innovation and industry, a very recent and high-quality resource is the Bloomberg’s 2019 Innovation Index. It ranked 95 economies by using 7 metrics, including R&D spending, manufacturing capability, and concentration of high-tech companies. In particular, South Korea was classified first globally this year, though improvements by Germany in research and education brought it to near-parity. And although South Korean economy was ranked first, Germany showed better results in the fields of manufacturing and research intensity. Furthermore, it is possible to notice that while Sweden, second in 2018, fell to the seventh spot, patent activity boosted the scores of China and Israel, the latter jumping to fifth place overall, surpassing Singapore, Sweden, and Japan. The U.K. fell to eighteenth place, performing worse than China for the first time. The U.S., however, rose three spots to eighth place, after having fallen out of the top 10 last year.
Among 2019’s ranked economies, the lowest classified were Tunisia and Ukraine, while ten “new entrants” have joined the ranking, such as the United Arab Emirates and some of the world’s largest emerging economies, including India, Mexico, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia.
South Africa remains the only Sub-Saharan nation to be ranked. This year, it was ranked 51st on the list.
Regarding infrastructure, according to an article recently published by Statista, in 2018, Singapore was ranked number one globally in regards to “infrastructure quality,” while the U.K. was the best country in “infrastructure projects,” closely followed by Canada.
Among the top five best “telecom infrastructure companies” are the Chinese Huawei and the American multinational Cisco, as well as Ericsson, Qualcomm, and Nokia.
In the U.S., the power sector generates the highest value for private infrastructure building.
In 2018, projects for rail transit were the most highly valued in transportation infrastructure, closely followed by projects for energy generation. In particular, Singapore was ranked first in road quality worldwide and in highest quality in air traffic last year.
In the U.S., the problem of disagreement among lawmakers has affected the state of the nation’s infrastructure.
According to the U.N., in order to implement SDG 9 and create engagement, countries across the world should put into practice several targets that can be found here.
Every country should do its best to put these targets into practice. Investment in infrastructure and technological development are crucial to promote future sustainable development. Thanks to the first one, it is possible to empower communities, promote growth in productivity and incomes, and ensure improvements in health and education, whereas the second one is the foundation not only to achieve environmental objectives and industrialization but also to increase communication efficiency and connections between people.
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