President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said Ghana would become an example in the implementation of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - Agenda 2030.
Speaking at the Junior Chamber International's 2019 symposium, on the sidelines of the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development, on Thursday, 29th August, 2019, President Akufo-Addo indicated that his government was pursuing the implementation of the SDGs with "a strong sense of urgency, and an unparalleled commitment to act now."
Speaking on the theme, "Ghana as a role model for the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030," the President stated that Ghana has a history of being first among her peers when it matters most.
"We were the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to free ourselves from colonialism; we were the first sub-Saharan African country to achieve the goal of halving poverty, as contained in Goal 1 of the Millennium Development Goals; and we were the first country in Africa to eliminate trachoma," he said.
As a start, the President noted that the 17 SDGs have been captured in Government's Co-ordinated Programme for Economic and Social Development Policies (2017-2024), which was adopted by Parliament in 2017, with the government's approach to implementing the SDGs involving all stakeholders.
President Akufo-Addo said working in tandem with the private sector, he had established an Advisory Group of prominent Chief Executives who were establishing a $100 million SDGs Delivery Fund and a $200 million Green Fund to complement the government's efforts in the realisation of the SDGs.
To realise SDG 4, which demands inclusive and equitable quality education and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all, the President stated that his government had made education in the public sector free from Kindergarten to Senior High School, with the adoption of my government's Free Senior High School policy.
"This September, when all students in public senior high schools will be beneficiaries, the policy will witness the enrolment of 1.2 million pupils, the highest in our history. Investments in our educational system are a key priority for my government, and we are insisting that a third of our nation's budget is dedicated to educating our young people. Ghana's young people must acquire skills that would put them at par with their peers across the globe," he added.
On SDG 3, which requires that governments ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages, President Akufo-Addo noted that his government had revitalised the National Health Insurance Scheme, strengthening the healthcare system through the construction of health infrastructure, the training of more doctors, the employment of more nurses and midwives, and the impending arrival of 275 ambulances, i.e. one per constituency, to make treatment of emergency cases more effective.
"Drone technology has also been introduced into the system to help deliver essential medicines, blood and blood products to remote communities. Today, the fear of getting sick has considerably abated," the President added.
On the provision of decent work and economic growth, i.e. SDG 8, he noted that, through the Nation Builders Corps initiative, one hundred thousand graduates have been put to work.
"Some fifty-nine thousand (59,000) teachers have been given jobs since I came into office in 2017. The "One-District-One-Factory" and "One-Village-One-Dam" programmes, and the Zongo Development Fund and the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP), are being pursued to stimulate job creation opportunities across the country," President Akufo-Addo said.
The President stated further that the government was reviving the agriculture sector through the 'planting for food and jobs' programme which supports over 1 million smallholder farmers.
Those farmers, he said, last year, produced a bumper harvest and for the first time in a very long while, the country exported food to her neighbouring countries.
Reinforcing Ghana's attachment to the Paris Agreement, the President revealed that at the local level, the government had tasked all local assemblies to address climate change issues in their medium-term development plans.
Additionally, he said his government had boldly clamped down on the reprehensible activity of illegal mining that has been destroying the country's forests and water bodies; has banned the harvesting of rosewood timber as one of the measures to protect the forests and endangered species; and, through the "Youth in Afforestation" Programme, Government has employed over 20,000 youth to plant 10 million trees across the country as a way of increasing carbon sinks all in a bid to meet SDG 13.
Towards realising the country's international obligations under SDG 7, on access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy, President Akufo-Addo indicated that his government was promoting the deployment of renewable energy in line with the policy target of 10% renewables in the energy mix from the current 1%.
"This year, Jubilee House, the seat of our nation's presidency, will be powered by solar energy, as an example to other public institutions. The target is to install 200 megawatts of distributed solar power by 2030 in both residential and non-residential facilities, and in state agencies, to reduce Government's dependence on power generated by fossil fuels," he said.
With SDG 14 requiring the conservation and use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, President Akufo-Addo noted that Ghana was determined to eliminate pollution on the country's coast, and significantly reducing pollution in the marine ecosystem by 2025.
That, he explained, would be done by tackling the current challenges posed by the use of plastics and indiscriminate disposal of waste; and, secondly, by completing the assessment of ecologically sensitive areas along the coast, and designating Ghana's first marine protected area by 2025, to safeguard coastal and marine biodiversity.
"The SDGs are intended to be the boldest and loudest articulation of the collective ambition for human development that the world has ever known. They are helping us in Ghana focus on a common agenda for development. We have a unique opportunity to transform our country, and bring prosperity to all by diligently implementing the SDGs," the President said.