Ghana has subjected itself to a Voluntary National Review (VNR) process to fast track progress towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The VNR, developed by the United Nations (UN) aims at facilitating the sharing of experiences and mutual learning among member-countries, leveraging on successes, challenges and lessons learned to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs.
Minister of Planning, George Gyan-Baffour, launching the VNR in Accra yesterday said the platform was expected to assess policy and regulatory framework for the implementation of the UN development goals in line with the African Union's (AU) Agenda 2063.
Underpinned by key thematic areas including guaranteeing that no citizen was left behind in development process, active youth participation in the SDGs as well as synergy across all 17 goals, the VNR will as well track steps taken by the country to implement the goals through successful innovations and initiatives.
A draft report of Ghana's VNR would be presented at the UN High-level Political Forum (HLPF) scheduled for July 2019.
Mr Gyan-Baffour in his remarks highlighted the government's intention to use the VNR process to among others raise public awareness, deepen citizens' engagement and promote "national ownership of the SDGs."
"Ghana VNR process will adopt a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach with the active participation of a wide range of stakeholders at national and sub-national levels to produce desired outcomes," he stated.
The minister outlined a number of initiatives undertaken by the government in collaboration with civil society to "localise and popularise" the SDGs since it was adopted in February 2016.
He thus called on development actors and the general public to take keen interest in the VNR process to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs in the coming years.
Mr Gyan-Baffour pledged governments commitment to forge stronger partnership with all key stakeholders to realise the development goals urging that, "let us all work together to eradicate poverty, promote peace, tackle the critical environmental challenges and create a better world for ourselves and future generations."
In a presentation to explain Ghana's approach to pull off the VNR, Mr Felix Addo-Yobo, Deputy Director, Environmental Policy Unit of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) disclosed that about 102 countries had conducted VNRs since 2016 when the development goals was adopted by member-states.
Ghana, he said, will join 50 other countries to present its first ever report at the 2019 HLPF indicating that timelines had been set to execute strategies including data collection, thematic consultations, validation and report preparation to achieve a final report by July this year.
The acting Director-General of the NDPC, Dr Grace Bediako said there was room to step up efforts at public sensitisation on the SDGs to allow Ghanaians appreciate its significance to hold duty bearers accountable to improve on their livelihood.
In her view, citizens ought to see it as a collective responsibility to realise the SDGs by 2030 hence the need to be actively involved in all processes.
Sylvia Lopez-Ekrah, acting UN Resident Coordinator commended Ghana for taking the bold step to undergo the VNR as she believed it will not only help the country take stock of progress made but share best practices with other countries that had gone ahead in implementing the SDGS while addressing "gaps and challenges identified."
She pledged the UN support for the process urging the media especially to help in increasing visibility and dissemination of information on the SDGs to attain set targets.