Top sustainable technologies and SDG-related patent trends in 2024

Georgina Horváth
May 1, 2024
Reading time:
5 minutes

Sustainability and innovation in 2024 are driving significant advances in technology. New technologies are addressing environmental concerns while also offering long-term economic and social benefits. 

This article explores transformative technologies aligned with global sustainability goals, and reflects their implications for the patent landscape, according to the WIPO Mapping Innovations: Patents and the Sustainable Development Goals report. Additionally, our blog post offers insights into the top five expected sustainability technologies in 2024.

Innovation through the lens of SDGs: overview of the latest WIPO report

The landscape of patents related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is expanding. Recent data from the latest WIPO report indicates that about 31.4% of all active patent families are linked to United Nations SDGs, underscoring a global commitment to sustainability-driven innovation. Major corporations such as Samsung, Toyota, and Bosch are at the forefront, each holding extensive portfolios that support sustainable development through technological innovation.

SDGs with the highest number of patents: 

  • Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • Climate Action
  • Good Health and Well-being 

From more than 15.2 million active patent families worldwide, over 4.7 million are related to the Sustainable Development Goals. The following graph illustrates the current number of active patent families related to each of the SDGs covering relevant innovative technologies. 

Number of active patent families associated with the SDGs according to the WIPO: Mapping Innovations Patents and the SDGs report.

Top 3 countries with the most SDG-related patents

The global distribution of patents associated with SDGs shows a significant pattern of activity, with huge developments in both developed and emerging economies. 

The WIPO report features the top regions with details of the SDG-related international patent families and a comparison of their share of SDG-related patents with an annual growth rate. The highlighted analysis is based on data from over 15.2 million active patent families worldwide. 

The following regions were selected in the top 3 due to their highest density of inventors and significant patenting activity:  

  • The United States leads in the number of SDG-related patent owners with a dynamic portfolio of renewable energy patents.
  • China's contributions are highly notable in the fields of green transportation and energy efficiency. 
  • Europe, with Germany at the top, excels in sustainable manufacturing and clean tech innovations. 
Top 3 countries driving sustainable innovation through patent applications according to the WIPO: Mapping Innovations Patents and the SDGs report.

They represent the role of innovative technologies in driving sustainability, and these countries are also home to the majority of the world's top 100 patent holders, based on the number of SDG-related international patent families.

The top 5 key sustainability technologies expected in 2024

In addition to the statistical data on countries, it is also valuable to consider the key innovative patent areas. This year, several emerging technologies are set to reshape our approach to sustainability. Here is an overview of the top 5 sustainability technology advancements expected to have a significant impact across technology sectors:

1. Energy storage solutions:

Advances in battery technology are set to revolutionize energy systems. Lithium-sulfur and solid-state batteries, known for their higher energy densities, are nearing commercial availability. These batteries are essential for the integration of renewable energy, providing stable and efficient energy storage solutions that are more compact and safer than current lithium-ion options.

2. Carbon capture and utilization (CCU):

This technology is rapidly advancing, with new catalysts and conversion processes enabling the transformation of carbon dioxide from a pollutant into valuable commodities. The latest developments allow for the production of synthetic fuels and construction materials, effectively creating a profitable market for captured carbon and significantly reducing atmospheric CO2 levels.

3. Advanced water purification:

Innovations such as nanofiltration and solar-powered desalination are revolutionizing water purification methods. These technologies enhance the accessibility of potable water through more energy-efficient processes, reducing the operational costs of water purification and helping to address global water scarcity.

4. Smart grid technology:

The integration of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) within smart grids is transforming energy management. These technologies enable more precise control and real-time adjustments to energy distribution systems, essential for accommodating the inconsistency of renewable energy sources and ensuring grid stability.

5. Biodegradable materials:

There is a growing interest in innovations that offer sustainable alternatives to conventional plastics. Recent developments in biodegradable materials derived from natural resources, such as plant fibers and marine chitin, are promising. These materials naturally decompose, reducing their environmental impact and dependency on fossil fuel-based plastics.

The technologies discussed not only address immediate environmental issues but also offer long-term economic and social benefits. The growing interconnectivity between technological advancement and environmental sustainability indicates a promising direction for future innovations.

If you're curious to learn more about the world of intellectual property and the stories behind innovation, check out Our Blog. If you are an IP owner yourself, check out our IP management software tool and save up to 50% on your IP renewals annually.