The World Intellectual Property Day is observed on the 26th of April of every year.  The purpose of the World IP day is to raise awareness about patents, copyright, and trademarks. Intellectual property (IP) is a vital part of the global creative and innovative ecosystems, especially for individual creators, entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This year’s theme is centred on, “IP and the SDGs: Building Our Common Future with Innovation and Creativity” and how IP can contribute to the realisation of these SDG’s by the year 2030.

The 17 SDGs were developed by the UN towards a better future for people and the planet and they focus on specific issues which include:

  1. No poverty (SGD1);
  2. Zero hunger (SDG2);
  3. Good health and well-being (SDG3);
  4. Access to quality education (SDG4);
  5. Gender equality (SDG5);
  6. Access to water and sanitation (SDG6)
  7. Affordable and clean energy (SDG7)
  8. Opportunities for work and economic growth (SDG8);
  9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG9)
  10. The reduction of inequalities (SDG10);
  11. Sustainable cities and communities (SDG11);
  12. Responsible consumption and production (SDG12);
  13. Action against climate change (SDG13);
  14. Conservation of marine life and sustainable fishing (SDG14);
  15. Protection of ecosystems on land (SDG15);
  16. Peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG16); and
  17. Collaboration for reaching these goals (SDG17).

These SDGs are important in fostering innovation, technological developments, and economic growth. The question then becomes how IP drive innovation can, technological developments and promote economic growth. 

IP can directly and indirectly contribute to the realisation of the SDG’s. For example, IP focuses on fostering innovation and promotion of sustainable industrialisation which in essence ties in with SDG NO. 9.  Innovators are already using IP to turn their ideas into realities through filing of patents, plant breeders’ rights applications and utility models in agriculture, technology and science.

IP is also being used as a tool to advance the SDG’s such as eradicating food hunger (SDG No. 2) and poverty (SDG No.1). Plant breeder rights where farmers are protecting a variety of new plant species is just one example of how IP can incentivise innovation in agriculture and food production.

Most patents that are being protected worldwide are in the pharmaceuticals industry. This is also another example of how IP can foster pharmaceuticals and medicinal development which in turn promotes good health and well-being under SDG No. 3 . Utility models and petty patents are another typical example of how IP can foster access to clean water through protection of water cleaning technologies which can be protected as patents or copyrights (through use of computer software technologies).  IP also plays a crucial role in the development of education which in turn contributes to the realisation of access to quality education under SDG No. 4. Educational platforms such as e-Learning platforms, and educational software are being developed worldwide and protected through copyright law.

IP is therefore playing a critical role in the realisation of the SDGs by the year 2030. By fostering a robust IP system, countries can empower its citizens, governments, companies, small to medium enterprises (SME’s), policymakers and the international community to contribute to sustainable development by the year 2030.

Contact our Intellectual Property and Information Technology law team today.

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