The Government, as part of efforts to compile a detailed and all-inclusive report on the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has held a consultative meeting with youth and children’s groups in Accra.
The engagement was to solicit input into the final 2022 Voluntary National Review (VNR) report on the SDGs ahead of the country’s 2nd presentation in July,2022.
World leaders in 2015 adopted the SDGs to address the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals.
As part of the follow-up and review mechanism for the SDGs, member states are encouraged to conduct voluntary, regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels to share experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Pius Enam Hadzide, Chief Executive Officer, National Youth Authority (NYA), said the VNR were essential to the attainment of the SDGs was a veritable tool track the progress made by countries.
“Importantly, they provide glimpses into how other countries are addressing the major barriers to the attainment of these goals to provide insight for other countries on how to tackle these challenges so that no country is left behind,” he said.
Mr Hadzide said, with over 70 per cent of the Ghanaian population made up of youth and children, it was imperative that they were involved in the attainment of the SDGs.
To harness the potential of what Ghana’s youthful population presents, he said, the SDG framework demanded that increased investments were made to ensure access to quality education, proper nutrition, health and well-being, gender equality, good jobs amongst other goals.
“This has been the foundation of several government flagship programmes including the Free SHS policy and the Agenda for Jobs which encompasses initiatives such as the YouSTART initiative, the One District One Factory project, Planting for Food and Jobs,” he added.
Ghana is among 45 countries expected to present their VNR at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, in July 2022.
It will be the country’s second VNR presentation on the SDGs since the implementation commenced in 2016, after its maiden presentation in 2019.
The consultative meeting, organised by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) and partners, was aimed at reviewing the draft report and building consensus on innovative actions for the attainment of the SDGs.
Mr Hadzide said; “This action, especially following the forced hiatus that the pandemic triggered since our maiden report in 2019, does not only show that our institutional mechanism for implementing and tracking SDG progress is resilient, it also signifies the assurance that Ghana’s post-Covid development will be effected within the framework of the SDGs.”
He said the consultation would ensure that the 2022 VNR accurately reflected the status of Ghanaian children and youth as far as the SDGs were concerned.
Dr Afisah Zakariah, Chief Director, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, in a speech read on her behalf by Mrs Florence Ayisi Quartey, Acting Director, Department of Children, said despite the progress made by the country in improving the status of Ghanaian children, there were challenges that hindered progress which needed to be overcome to accelerate the pace to attain the SDGs in the stipulated time.
She called for patriotism and commitment towards the fulfilment of the rights of children because they were the future of the nation.
“Goal 17 of the SDGs calls for partnerships for the goals and this will require multisectoral interventions such that all stakeholders in child protection need to work together with concerted efforts in addressing issues of children which will have a positive impact towards the achievement of the sustainable development goals by 2030,”she added.
Ms Anne-Claire Dufay, UNICEF Representative in Ghana, said even though the country had made significant stride towards achieving the SDGs, more investments were required in certain areas such as water and sanitation and education, to scale-up the attainment process of the 2030 agenda.
“We also need to make further efforts to improve Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET), and to make it relevant to the labour market,” she said.
In relation to SDG 1, on poverty reduction, and SDG 10, on reducing inequalities, Ms Dufay noted, that three out of four children were still multi-dimensionally poor and faced extreme deprivation, urging inclusive access to basic services to address the challenge.
Dr Agnes Kayitankore, Deputy Country Representative, UNFPA assured of the organisation's commitment to working with and empowering young Africans.