Promoting inclusive and sustainable industries and continuing to invest in physical infrastructure, innovation and research are vital to long-term economic development.
Investments in research and development and economic infrastructure have also increased in developing countries. Global CO2 emissions are declining and impressive progress is being made in mobile connectivity. However, growth in manufacturing is declining in the least developed countries and the pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the manufacturing and transport industries. Pakistan committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in October 2015. In developing countries, manufacturing jobs are an essential source of income and are key to poverty reduction. The effects of COVID19 have been destabilizing for economies, threatening to halt or even reverse the progress made towards building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and fostering innovation. With over half the world population now living in cities, mass transport and renewable energy are becoming more and more important, as is the growth of new industries and information and communication technology. Pakistan has made progress in different indicators of SDG 9 with an increase in broadband subscriptions, population using the internet, and higher education index. There have also been interventions at the policy level. But besides all this progress, Pakistan seems to be stagnating in its journey towards implementing SDG goal 9.
How to Achieve SDG Goal 9
Developing quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure to support economic development and human well being is the first step towards achieving SDG goal 9 in Pakistan. This has to be done with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all. By doing so, Pakistan can promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and raise the industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product. Secondly, Pakistan should increase access to financial services and markets for small scale industrial and other enterprises including affordable credit and integration into value chains and markets. Enhancing scientific research, upgrading the technological capabilities of the industrial sector, and encouraging innovation will drastically increase the number of research papers published. Also, by supporting domestic technology, industrial diversification will add value to different commodities. Lastly, a significant increase in access to communication and information technology can provide internet access to the least developed areas of Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Progress on SDG 9
Pakistan has set its targets to increase value-added manufacturing from 13.56 per cent of GDP to 16 per cent of GDP, increase manufacturing employment from 15 to 18 per cent, increase small-scale industries in value from 8.4 to 12 per cent, and increase research and development expenditure from 0.2 to 2 per cent of GDP. Two laws have been enacted to achieve progress in SDG 9 namely, The National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act 2016 and The Balochistan Mass Transit Authority Act 2017. The former act provides for the establishment of institutions and enunciation of mechanisms and procedures so as to provide for effective conservation and efficient use of energy in Pakistan, while the latter is a project under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Another area is policy intervention. Pakistan has formulated three policies for successful implementation of SDG 9 namely, Digital Pakistan policy, National Transport Policy, and revamping the new special economic zones (SEZs) under the new industrial policy. Lastly, the most primary strategy for achieving targets under SDG 9 is to expand the freelancing industry. The industry has the potential to increase in size from the US $1 billion to US $5 billion by 2023.