The President of the 73rd Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, Ms Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, has spoken highly of the Ghana government’s commitment and leadership in the global action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She commended President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in particular, for his great leadership role on the international front as co-Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Eminent Advocates on the SDGs and the structures put in place locally to achieve the global targets.
“One of the ingredients for achieving the SDGs is a high level of political will, and for President Akufo-Addo to show this commitment so far by creating an advisory unit at the Presidency and also setting up a high-level ministerial committee on the SDGs is so commendable.
“The UN Secretary-General thought it wise to reappoint him as a co-Chair of the SDGs until 2020 and this is well deserved,” she added.
Ms Garces, who arrived in the country last Wednesday on a four-day official visit, gave the commendation when she met the 15-member high-level ministerial committee on SDGs in Accra yesterday.
The meeting was meant to discuss the global efforts being made to achieve the SDGs and explore avenues for achieving the targets at the country level.
Present at the meeting were key stakeholder ministers, including those of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta; Education, Dr Mathew Opoku-Prempeh; Justice and Attorney-General, Ms Gloria Akuffo; Planning, Professor George Gyan-Baffour, and Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.
The ministers of Employment and Labour Relations, Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Local Government and Rural Development, Health and Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mr Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, Hajia Alima Mahama, Mr Kwaku Agyeman Manu and Ms Cynthia Morrison, respectively, were also at the meeting.
Ms Garces said the government’s holistic approach to achieving the SDGs by bringing together related ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) was strategic and commendable.
She described the free senior high school, the One-district, One-factory (1D1F) and the one-village, one-dam (1V1D) policies and the other initiatives by the government as timely, since they would play a critical role in addressing most of the SDGs.
“I am very excited; I am encouraged by what you are doing here and I am tempted to be an SDG ambassador in Ghana,” she said, beaming with a smile.
She urged the government to create more opportunities that would make the SDGs more inclusive by making them more centred on the youth and women.
Ms Garces, however, stressed the need to take the issue of funding SDG programmes seriously.
That, she said, required innovative strategies and coordinated action involving the private sector to raise funds for programmes that would help achieve the SDGs.
“It is important to be encouraging and making the private sector accountable in raising funds for the SDGs, but we need to also be more innovative in exploring other avenues to raise funds,” she said.
She said $7 trillion was required globally every year to deliver the SDGs and that required that more innovative measures be implemented to raise funds.
For his part, the Advisor on SDGs at the Presidency, Dr Eugene Owusu, said the government was focusing more on getting innovative funding sources to deliver the SDGs.
He said the government had placed priority on the private sector to help deliver the goals, while it was also doing all within its means to tap into the energies of the youth and women to drive the SDG agenda.
Prof. Gyan-Baffour, for his part, said the high-level ministerial committee on SDGs would work in a coordinated manner to achieve the SDG targets.
He emphasised that innovation, technology and partnership would be encouraged as part of efforts to achieve the global goals.