Sustainable Development Goals

The Nordic Countries and SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

This data tracker looks at how the Nordic countries are progressing towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 9, using the latest official data from the UN and the OECD.

Adopted in 2015 by all United Nations (UN) members, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a global agenda for making the world a better place by 2030. They are described by the UN as a ‘shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet‘, and goals are to be achieved by all countries, in global partnership, by 2030.

This data tracker uses the latest official data to look at how the Nordic countries are progressing towards achieving the 17 SDGs, with this page looking closer at Sustainable Development Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

Each target is presented by first looking at global trends, before zooming in on the Nordic countries and assessing their performance. The assessment is based on work by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in analysing the progress made toward the SDGs in all OECD countries.

Target 9.1

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


9.1.1Proportion of the rural population who live within 2 km of an all-season road
9.1.2Passenger and freight volumes, by mode of transport

Global trends

No data is available at the global or regional level for indicator 9.1.1.

For the second indicator on passenger and freight volumes, data is available at a global and regional level up until 2020 from the UN SDG database. This section will be expanded once more recent data is available that to a larger extent captures how transport has been impacted by the pandemic.

The Nordics

Progress is not assessed for the Nordic countries on this target.

Target 9.2

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


9.2.1Manufacturing value added as a proportion of GDP and per capita
9.2.2Manufacturing employment as a proportion of total employment

Global trends

The share of manufacturing in employment and GDP is highly dependent on national circumstances and there is no set target level in the SDG framework. To gauge the development of the manufacturing sector, it is more informative to look at the sector’s value added per capita.

At a global level, this has increased by 12% since 2015. The increase has been driven by increases in manufacturing value added per capita in Europe and Northern America as well as Eastern and South-Eastern Asia.

The Nordics

Given the absence of a country-level target for 2030 in the global framework, the OECD has operationalised the target as matching the average level of the four best OECD performers in 2015 (7500 USD per capita). Denmark is currently the only country which has made progress towards this target over the past years, reaching a level of over 8700 USD value added per capita from manufacturing in 2021.

No OECD progress assessment is given as new data has been released after the OECD published its report.

Target 9.3

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


9.3.1Proportion of small-scale industries in total industry value added
9.3.2Proportion of small-scale industries with a loan or line of credit

Global trends

No data is available at a global or regional level for indicator 9.3.1.

Globally, one-third of small-scale industries have a loan or a line of credit (indicator 9.3.2), based on latest avaliable survey data. The share with access to credit is lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the latest survey data showed that only 16% had a loan or a line of credit.

The Nordics

Progress is not assessed for the Nordic countries as there is no data available and to measure progress.

Target 9.4

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


9.4.1CO2 emission per unit of value added

Global trends

Global CO2 emissions in the manufacturing sector (in kg per value added) have decreased steadily over the past decade, and stood at 0.43 Kg CO2 emissions per manufacturing value added in 2019.

Regional data from 2019 (the latest year available) shows that emissions decreased in all regions except Oceania when compared to 2015 levels. The data also shows the large variations across regions, with emission levels almost 6 to 7 times larger in Oceania and Central and Southern Asia than in Europe and Northern America.

The Nordics

The OECD has operationalised this target by measuring progress against the top OECD performers in 2015. For CO2 emissions per manufacturing value added this entails a target level of below 0.1 Kg by 2030. The OECD also includes an additional indicator for CO2 emissions per unit of GDP, similarly benchmarked against best OECD performers in 2015, entailing a level of 0.085 Kg by 2030. The latest data shows that Denmark, Sweden and Iceland are on track to reach the targets, while more progress is needed in Norway and Finland.

Target 9.5

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


9.5.1Research and development expenditure as a proportion of GDP
9.5.1Researchers (in full-time equivalent) per million inhabitants

Global trends

Government spending on research and development (R&D) as a share of GDP has seen an increase since 2015 globally from 1.69% to 1.93% in 2020. No numerical target is set for 2030 for this indicator.

R&D spending was highest in Europe and Northern America and Eastern and Sout-Eastern Asia. Since 2015 both these regions have seen their R&D spending shares increase. In the three SDG regions with the lowest shares, the R&D shares either declined (Latin America and the Caribbean) or stood still between 2015 and 2020 (Central and Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa).

The second indicator in this target aims to substantially increase the number of researchers (measured as the number of researchers per million inhabitants). While no numerical target for 2030 is set, there is a clear trend of increasing researcher density at the global level over the past two decades.

Since 2015, except for a minor decrease in Australia and New Zealand, all researcher density has increased in all SDG regions.

The Nordics

The OECD has operationalised this target at the level of the top OECD performers in 2015. For R&D expenditure this entails a target level of 3.3%, while for researcher density the target is set at 5 900 researchers per million inhabitants.

Sweden is the only country which has achieved the target level for R&D expenditure as of 2020, while all the Nordics have achieved the target level for researcher density.

No OECD progress assessment is given as new data has been released after the OECD published its report.

Target 9.a

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


9.a.1Total official international support (official development assistance plus other official flows) to infrastructure

Global trends

The target sets out a commitment to increase support to developing countries for sustainable infrastructure, however there is no set numerical target.

OECD data shows that total aid for infrastructure has increased over recent years in absolute terms and stood at 63 billion USD in 2020.

No data is shown for each of the Nordic countries, as the sectoral distribution of international flows will depend on national priorities.

Target 9.b

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


9.b.1Proportion of medium and high-tech industry value added in total value added

Global trends

There is no set target level for 2030 at the global or national level for this indicator. The latest available data from 2019 shows that on average worldwide, medium and high-tech industry contributed 45% to total value added globally.

No assessment of progress is given by the OECD for this indicator for OECD-countries.

Target 9.c

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


9.c.1Proportion of population covered by a mobile network, by technology

Global trends

Mobile network coverage has expanded rapidly over the past two decades. As of 2020, the vast majority of the world population has access to high-speed mobile networks. 4G technology has gone from 33% to 85% global coverage rate in just 6 years (no data is yet available on 5G from the SDG global indicator database).

Importantly, there are still access gaps, with for example Sub-Saharan Africa having significantly lower coverage rates of 3G and 4G mobile networks.

The Nordics

All the Nordic countries have already achieved universal coverage of high-speed mobile networks.

About the data

The data presented on global, regional, and national trends are from the UN SDG Global Database and the OECD unless otherwise stated.

The assessment of the Nordic countries is based on the findings from a recent OECD report, published in April 2022. The OECD uses a three-tier classification for each target:

  • Target is achieved or on track to being achieved
  • Progress has been made, but is insufficient to meet the target
  • No progress or moving away from the SDG target

In its assessment, the OECD looks at a country's current performance towards a target, and calculates a trend towards 2030 based on recent progress. As such, a country that is close to a target, but trending away from it, will be classified as having "No progress or moving away from the SDG target". Conversely, a country that is currently further away from the target, but trending towards it (and has a high likelihood of reaching it before 2030), will be classified as "Target is achieved or on track to being achieved".


  • First release August 2022
  • Data and text update December 2022

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