The theme of the 2017 High-level Political Forum on sustainable development will be “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”, which is also a central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In the lead-up to the 2017 HLPF, weekly blogs by representatives of Member States, UN system, and major groups and other stakeholders will be featured in this series to present various perspectives on this theme. The role of SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14, and 17 will also be highlighted, as these goals will be in focus at the 2017 HLPF discussions.
Li Yong, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
The contribution of industrialization to the 2030 Agenda is most directly recognized in the progress that nations are making on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9. However, the multiplier effect of industrialization on all other areas of development will contribute to the achievement of the SDGs in their entirety.
In SDG 9, Member States of the United Nations call on the international community to “build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”.
Inclusive and sustainable industrial development, which is the core of UNIDO’s mandate, means that:
There exist important synergies between SDG 9 and other SDGs that are being reviewed at the 2017 High-Level Political Forum.
For example, there are interlinkages with SDG 1 on poverty eradication. The regions which have achieved most progress in reducing poverty and hunger are also the regions which have shown the most dynamic trends in industrialization. These are also the only regions in which the importance of manufacturing has been growing steadily since the early 1990s. This suggests that industrial development plays a key role in poverty reduction through the generation of income-earning opportunities for the poor, which is addressed in SDG 1.
In addition, industrial development is a catalyst for the achievement of SDG 2 on food security. Supporting the development and strengthening of the value chains through which agricultural products are processed, stored and packaged on their way to reaching end users can reduce food losses, as well as generate added value and employment. Furthermore, the improvement in living standards associated with employment in or around manufacturing enables workers’ families to increase consumption. This can contribute to reducing malnutrition, especially among children.
Research also shows a strong connection between manufacturing-value added (MVA) per capita and health indicators. Higher levels of MVA per capita are associated with higher life expectancy and lower mortality ratios. The income effect of inclusive and sustainable industrial development significantly contributes to this trend. Sustainable industrialization also reduces the environmental footprint of industry and thus provides considerable gains for human health, particularly in urban settings. In addition, the development of domestic pharmaceutical industries increases access to affordable medicines, which is particularly relevant for developing countries. This represents another synergy between SDG 3 on good health and well-being, and structural change towards manufacturing.
Moreover, pollution continues to be a challenge in many places, which is addressed in SDG 14 on life below water. UNIDO supports countries in their efforts to minimize the use and discharges of effluents in small-scale industrial applications, and to promote the removal of toxic substances from drinking water, as well as to effectively manage national and trans-boundary water bodies suffering from industrial pollution. This way industrialization can also contribute to SDG 14.
Finally, in the face of increasing inequalities, a strategy for growth must ensure a form of industrialization that makes opportunities accessible to all people. UNIDO recognizes that everyone must benefit from industrialization, and that prosperity should be shared equally among women and men, and in particular with youth. Gender equality is not only a human right, but it is also important for “smart economics”, because it can enhance economic efficiency. Women as economic actors, leaders and consumers play a vital role in countries’ drive towards a higher level of industrialization. Inclusive industrial development thus has a clear linkage with the achievement of SDG 5 on gender equality.
SDG 17 on partnerships is central to the realization of the SDGs and is also at the core of achieving inclusive and sustainable industrial development. Partnerships are intrinsic for trade capacity development, technology transfer, finance for development, and private sector involvement, which are all part of UNIDO’s programmatic focus.
Indeed, the implementation of the SDGs requires partnerships with a strong country ownership and the alignment of inclusive and sustainable growth policies, public and private investments and societal goals. Only this combination will allow the high-impact services that the international community can bring to support nations in their progress towards 2030.
An example of UNIDO’s approach is the Programme for Country Partnership (PCP), a new model of multi-stakeholder partnership through which UNIDO combines its convening and policy advisory role to design industrialization strategies and instruments. Building on UNIDO’s close link with the private sector and its historic role as the platform for economic cooperation between developing and developed countries, the PCP solicits investments from public and private, and from international and domestic sources, for a common strategy for inclusive and sustainable industrialization at the country level.
Official Development Assistance (ODA) also plays a crucial role in fostering partnerships. The achievement of the SDGs requires smart policies that channel scarce national resources towards investments that are in line with nationally devised paths towards inclusive and sustainable industrial development. ODA is a key catalyst, as it can help alleviate some of the risks associated with investments in developing countries and mobilize more foreign and domestic investments.
To conclude, inclusive and sustainable industrial development is crucial not only for SDG 9, but – through its synergy effects – also for SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 14 and 17. UNIDO’s unique expertise and extensive experience will thus allow to make a vital contribution to the international efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda.