- On May 27, 2020
By Ugonna Ukaigwe, National Coordinator, Ghana CSOs Platform on the SDGs
The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) is the United Nations central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It provides for the full and effective participation of all member states of the United Nations as well as states’ members of specialized agencies.
In July 2019, Ghana joined 46 other countries to participate at the HLPF and present its report on the progress of implementation of the SDGs at the Voluntary National Review (VNR). As part of the strong multi-stakeholder partnerships that the Government of Ghana has put in place for the SDGs, Ghana’s official delegation to the HLPF included representatives from civil society organizations through the Ghana CSOs Platform on SDGs, the Private Sector through the CEO’s Advisory Group on SDGs and Vodafone Ghana, and the traditional authorities through the office of the Asantehene. A total of fourteen (14) CSOs from the Ghana CSOs Platform participated as part of the government’s official delegation.
A Look at CSOs Platform’s participation
July 9 – 14 witnessed a series of side events and thematic reviews of various topics on sustainable development. There were also exhibitions showcasing innovations that countries have implemented and/or are implementing on the SDGs. On July 10, delegates from the Ghana CSOs Platform held a coordination meeting to discuss the participation of members at the various meetings, agree on a schedule for manning the exhibition stand jointly with representatives from government as well as agree on a template for preparation of reports for each meeting.
The CSOs Platform on SDGs and the Government of Ghana hosted a joint exhibition stand. The stand showcased several innovations from government and CSOs, including government flagship programmes linked to the SDGs, the CSOs VNR Shadow Report and Policy Brief, video documentaries and jingles on the SDGs among others. Branded Ghana chocolates, football and pen drives were also on display.
Ghana hosts side events
On 10th July, Ghana hosted its main side event on the theme: “Building Partnerships for SDGs: Government, Civil Society, Private Sector and Traditional Authorities.” The session was jointly hosted by government and CSOs and witnessed presentations from a multi-stakeholder panel made up of representatives from the traditional authority, private sector, and civil society. The session provided an opportunity for Ghana to share its multi-stakeholder strategy for implementing the SDGs. In his keynote address, Prof. George Gyan-Baffour, Minister for Planning and the leader of the Ghana delegation, reiterated the critical role effective partnerships play in ensuring transformative and sustainable development.
“At the core of partnerships for development is a win-win relationship where partners can pull their resources and competencies together to address economic, social and environmental aims more effectively,” said the minister.
George Osei-Akoto speaks on behalf of the CSOs Platform
The Co-chair of the Ghana CSOs Platform on SDGs, Mr. George Osei- Akoto-Bimpeh, during the CSOs side session, noted that CSOs partnership with the government has shifted from antagonistic relationship to one based on collaboration which allows for effective accountability. CSOs, he said, “have a responsibility to complement government efforts on national development while holding themselves and the government to account on development issues.”
The CSOs Platform’s side session, on the other hand, was organized in partnership with the Asia Development Alliance (ADA), Action for Sustainable Development (A4SD), UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub and other partners on the theme: ‘Building Inclusive National Reviews: Promoting Civil Society Participation on the SDGs’. The Session provided the opportunity for participants to discuss best practices and the experiences of government-CSO engagement, the challenges, and opportunities related to CSO-government engagement based on lessons learned during VNR reporting and other SDG follow-up mechanisms. Over 30 delegates attended the session including South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
Presentation of VNR reports
Following the platform’s side session, Ghana presented its VNR Report on the implementation of the SDGs on the theme “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.’’ The presentation was done jointly by civil society and the government.
Mr. Alexander Bankole, who presented the CSOs VNR shadow report on behalf of the CSOs, outlined the key findings, including some challenges that stakeholders need to pay attention to going forward. He emphasized that Ghana has adopted an inclusive and multi-stakeholder partnership approach to the implementation of the SDGs, backed by sound institutional arrangements and high-level political support.
The National progress report, on the other hand, was presented by the head of Ghana’s delegation, Prof. George Gyan-Baffour. His presentation highlighted the progress that Ghana has made on many of the SDGs targets, stressing that “overall, poverty had declined marginally from 24.2% in 2013 to 23.4% in 2017. Growth in GDP remained robust, accelerating to 8.1% in 2017, thus making Ghana the second-fastest growing economy in Africa in that year.” He underscored the need to develop strategic partnerships with key stakeholders, building strong linkages among government, research institutions, academia, private sector, and other stakeholders for research and innovation.