IP AND THE SDGs: Building our common future with Innovation and Creativity

May 28, 2024

World IP Day

World Intellectual Property Day is observed annually on 26 April. Established by the WIPO in 2000.To “raise awareness of how patents, copyright, trademarks and designs impact on daily life” and “to celebrate creativity, and the contribution made by creators and innovators to the development of economies and societies across the globe”.

IP and the SDGs:

Building Our Common Future With Innovation and Creativity

  • Understanding IP
  • An Overview of the SDGs
  • Challenges and Opportunities
  • Case Studies
  • Building our common future

Understanding IP

What are Intellectual Property Rights?

The legal rights that are granted to creators and owners of original works, such as inventions, designs, music, literature, and artistic works. These rights give the creators and owners exclusive control over the use of their creations, which enables them to prevent others from using, reproducing, or selling their creations without permission.

Main Types of IP Rights

  • Patent: Patents protect inventions and give the patent holder exclusive rights to make, use, and sell the invention for a certain period of time (usually 20 years).
  • Trademarks: Trademarks protect brand names, logos, slogans, and other marks that are used to identify and distinguish goods and services in the marketplace.
  • Copyrights protect original works of authorship, such as literary, musical, and artistic works.
  • Trade secrets protect confidential business information, such as formulas, designs, and processes, that give a company a competitive advantage.

How Can IP Help in Fostering Innovation and Creativity?

  1. Incentivizing Innovation
  2. Protection of Ideas
  3. Facilitating Collaboration and Technology Transfer
  4. Attracting Investment and Funding
  5. Promoting Cultural and Creative Industries

The SDGs: An Overview

The 17 SDGs, adopted by the United Nations in 2015, serve as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all by 2030.

Each goal is interconnected and addresses various aspects of sustainable development, including social, economic, and environmental dimensions.

Four categorizations:

  • Human Development Goals (1-6)
  • Economic Development Goals (7–10)
  • Environmental Sustainability Goals (11–15)
  • Peace, Justice, Governance, and Partnerships Goals (16–17)

The Importance of the SDGs in Addressing Global Challenges

1. Comprehensive Framework
2. Universal Agenda
3. Holistic Approach
4. Measurable Progress

Challenges and Opportunities in Leveraging IP for SDG Achievement


● Access and Affordability
● Technology Transfer Barriers
● IP Infringement Issues
● Weak Institutional IP Policies


● Incentivizing Innovation
● Collaborative Partnerships
● Open Innovation Models
● Capacity Building and Technology Transfer

Case studies Where IP Has Contributed to Sustainable Development?

Research for Impact

TETFund runs a research commercialization workshop called Research for Impact for Nigerian lecturers. This is a two-week program where researchers from different schools are given SDGs to define marketplace-relevant problems and in turn design solutions to address them. All within the 2 weeks period.

IP Contribution to Multiple SDGs: Teams create technologies up to the high-fidelity prototype stage some of which are patented or trademarked. Some of these solutions are at different stages of commercialization.


IP Skills Acquisition, Learning and Youth Entrepreneurship (IP SALAYE) is a WIPO capacity building project to empower eligible NYSC members in using IP rights for business development and as a financing strategy

IP Contribution to Multiple SDGs: Throughout the program, in addition to the five core concepts, each team cultivated numerous IPs. Every team has the potential to secure trademarks and licenses for their concepts. Additionally, trade secrets and copyrights may arise from the software developed by each team.

Biogas Digester from OAU

Researchers at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) developed a biogas digester technology which works with photovoltaic cells to address energy poverty and promote sustainable development in rural communities in Nigeria.

IP Contribution to SDGs 7, 8, 13: The university patented the biogas digester technology and collaborated with local NGOs to pilot and implement the technology in rural areas.This innovation was deployed to rural households and agricultural cooperatives, enabling them to convert organic waste into clean and renewable biogas for cooking, heating, and electricity generation.

Building Our Common Future


Four Approaches

1. Collaboration in using IP for sustainable development
2. Enablers of innovation and creativity
3. Equitable access to the benefits of IP
4. Call to action

Collaboration – The Quadruple Helix Synergy

Collaboration between stakeholders in utilizing IP for sustainable development:

Enablers of Innovation and Creativity

Equitable Access to the Benefits of IP

1. Legal Frameworks and Policy Reforms
2. Capacity Building and Technical Assistance
3. Fair Licensing and Technology Transfer
4. Public Sector Investment and Innovation Funding
5. Education and Awareness Campaigns

Call to Action