Sustainable Development Goal #9 and Project Management, Industrialization and Innovation

Sustainable Development Goal #9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

In this installment of our series on the SDGs, we look at #9 of 17.  This goal encompasses three key aspects of sustainable development: Infrastructure, innovation, and industrialization.

Two specific targets that are outlined are for the three aspects are as follows:

  • Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and trans-border 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 the least developed countries

Historically, economic development has been synonymous with industrialization and more specifically, manufacturing and infrastructure. While these three aspects are important, I believe this SDG, by omission, discounts the contributions of the service industry and their impact on” inclusiveness” and “human well-being.”  I was rather pointed about this and raised the issue at the UN in 2015 when this goal was drafted, and still feel that this SDG more of a means to achieve a goal than an actual goal.  Ok… I will get off my soapbox.

What does this all mean for projects and project management?

For projects, justification for an initiative is set forth in the business case and it is prior to the business case being written that the questions “Should we be doing X?” and “How do we take into account employment, economic development and well being?”  should be answered. It is for this reason that we advocate that project sponsors and project managers are peers on the org chart..  That is for another post.

Here is an example.  Let’s pretend that you are a project manager and have the mandate to bring a product to life and the business case specifies that preference should be given to resources that support the achievement of SDG #9.

As part of the project, you are to source materials and one of them is coconut oil.  Knowing that some of the most poverty stricken nations are abundant in coconuts, it would be worthwhile to place a preference on sourcing coconuts from a location that has a major impact on the local economy.

Here are some photos I took of a local coconut processing facility in Honiara in the Solomon Islands.  It is a small operation that is scaling up to serve larger markets.  As the Solomon’s are challenged with extreme poverty, something as simple as a coconut can drive innovation, employment and sustainable-industrialization.

Coconut Processing in the Solomon Islands
Coconut oil and product development in the Solomon Island

All it takes is a little extra consideration to think outside the Time/Cost/Scope triangle to consider economic, social, and environmental impacts. 😉

Dr. Joel Carboni

Dr. Joel Carboni is a highly respected expert in sustainable project management. He is a graduate of Ball State University and holds a Ph.D. in Sustainable Development and Environment. He has over 25 years of experience in project management, including government, finance, consulting, manufacturing, and education. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and events related to project management and sustainability and has worked in more than 50 countries. In addition to serving as President Emeritus of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) in the United States and being a member of the Global advisory board, Dr. Carboni is also the founder of GPM (Green Project Management) and a visiting professor at Skema Business School. He is also the GPM representative to the United Nations Global Compact, where he was a founding signatory of the Business for Peace Initiative and the Anti-Corruption call to action and a contributor to the development of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). Dr. Carboni is the creator of the PRiSM™ project delivery methodology and the P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management and has written training programs on Green and Sustainable Project Management that are offered in more than 145 countries through professional training providers, business associations, and universities. He is the lead author of the book "Sustainable Project Management."

One thought to “Sustainable Development Goal #9 and Project Management, Industrialization and Innovation”

  1. What a great article about how people have to see a small firm, which tries to archive the SDG9 by themselves. I strongly believe that Sustainable Development Goals are hidden millions of business ideas, which can be successful in the future easily. Innovation is definitely one of the key terms not only in the goal of 9 but considering all of the SDGs. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I just read another article in the line of SDG 9, and I think it might be also interesting to have a look at it.

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