President Akufo-Addo reconfirms commitment to the SDGs

UNCT-GH-President-SDG-Advocate-panel-2017

8 September 2017, Accra, Ghana

At a Presidential Commemoration event on 7 September, the UN congratulated H.E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on his appointment by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to co-chair his group of Eminent Advocates for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and welcomed his appointment of a High-Level Ministerial Committee to oversee SDG implementation in Ghana.

The event was organised by the Office of the President, in cooperation with the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) and the United Nations in Ghana. It reconfirmed the commitment of the country to localising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Ghana.

Earlier this year, the UN Secretary-General appointed President Akufo-Addo to co-chair the group of SDG Advocates, along with Prime Minister of Norway H.E. Mrs. Erna Solberg. President Akufo-Addo succeeds H.E. Mr. John Mahama, former President of Ghana, as Co-chair of the Advocates who completed his assignment at the end of December 2016.

As Co-chair, President Akufo-Addo works with his fellow Advocates to promote the SDGs as part of an ambitious and transformative global development agenda; to raise awareness for the integrated, universal nature of the SDGs; to meet the commitment to leave no one behind; to encourage the engagement of new stakeholders in the implementation and financing of the SDGs; and to strengthen partnerships among governments, civil society and the private sector to share knowledge and resources. The group includes business leaders, academics, artists, athletes, and activists who have shown leadership in their field.

In his keynote address, President Akufo-Addo said that his appointment as Co-chair honoured all Ghanaians. He stressed that the SDGs could not be achieved through “business as usual,” but required innovation in mobilising resources and eliminating leakages and the misuse of public funds. He shared his vision of a “Ghana beyond aid”, saying that Ghana and Africa had the means to finance the SDGs and could not have an aid-dependent mentality. While acknowledging the importance of all SDGs, he – as African Union Gender Champion – singled out SDG 5 on gender equality and women empowerment of utmost importance.

President Akufo-Addo also inaugurated a High-Level Ministerial Committee which will oversee the progress of SDG implementation in Ghana. He announced that – under the leadership of the Minister of Planning – the committee will consist of the Ministers of Trade and Industry; Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration; Finance; Food and Agriculture; Justice; Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation; Monitoring & Evaluation; Education; Health; Sanitation and Water Resources; Local Government and Rural Development; Gender, Children and Social Protection; Employment and Labour Relations; and Fisheries and Aquaculture Development.

In his opening remarks, Prof. George Gyan-Baffour, Minister of Planning, spoke about the leadership role of Ghana in shaping the SDGs, and said that other countries looked at Ghana as a model for how to integrate the SDGs in national development priorities.

In her remarks on behalf of the UN, Ms. Christine Evans-Klock, UN Resident Coordinator for Ghana, congratulated President Akufo-Addo on his appointment, saying that it reflects the continued trust the UN has in Ghana to take on a leadership role in the achievement of the SDGs. She said an all-Government approach across sectors was needed, and therefore welcomed the inauguration of the High-Level Ministerial Committee which she considered instrumental in attaining the SDGs. She expressed her hope that the Committee would provide strategic guidance to the UN Country Team in implementing the next 5-year UN Sustainable Development Partnership (UNSDP) to govern the UN-Ghana partnerships and ensure their contribution to achieving the SDGs.

H.E. Ambassador of Norway Mr. Gunnar Andreas Holm, on behalf of the Norwegian Prime Minister, thanked the President for his personal engagement and applauded him for the initiative to establish the High-Level Ministerial Committee.

Miss Victoria Quaynor from Curious Minds representing youth groups; Mr. George Osei-Bimpeh, Country Director at SEND-GHANA, speaking on behalf of civil society; and Mr. Nana Osei-Bonsu, CEO of the Private Enterprise Federation, representing the private sector, shared their perspectives and respective roles in attaining the SDGs.

Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, Minority Leader of Parliament, assured the President that the entire country supported him in his role as Co-chair. Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, Majority Leader, confirmed that the Parliament was there to ensure that all actions reflect the needs of Ghanaians.

All speakers agreed on the need to end working in silos, but to establish innovative multi-stakeholder partnerships to ensure no one is left behind, and in order to leave Ghana’s future generations – its children and its youth – with an enduring legacy.

The high-level event took place in the presence of over 200 representatives, including Ministers, Members of Parliament, CSOs, academics, youth, Think Tanks, traditional leaders, and development partners. It was organised timely, as the Eminent Advocates will meet with UN Secretary-General António Guterres prior to the UN General Assembly later this month to plan the work ahead.