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Opinions of Saturday, 26 June 2021

Columnist: Stephen Atta Owusu

Is Ghana anywhere near achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

Countries signed up the UN SDGs have until 2030 to achieve the target Countries signed up the UN SDGs have until 2030 to achieve the target

The member states of the United Nations (UN) met in 2015 and unanimously adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was meant to steer the promotion of sustainable development from 2016 to 2030 in the world. It is their aim to eradicate extreme poverty from the world and to ensure well-being in an environmentally sustainable manner. Indeed Agenda 2030 and the SDGs apply to all countries of the world including. Ghana. All these countries have the responsibility for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Does Ghana have what it takes to attain all the goals? Attaining the goals requires extensive participation from local government, private sector, civil society and citizens too.

Finland, for example, has been able to achieve 14 of the 17 sustainable development goals and they are hoping to meet the rest of the goals by 2030. Finland's development supports this commitment and the country is committed to achieve the 17 goals by 2030. Can we say the same thing about Ghana?

When we consider the seriousness and the fast rate being adopted by some countries towards achieving the 17 targets of the sustainable development goals, Ghana is crawling. When Nana Addo came to power on 7th January 2017, he was determined to work assiduously towards the global goals set by UNDP for all member states, which is a universal call to end poverty, protect the planet, the environment and to ensure that everyone lives in peace and prosperity in 2030.

Ghana's statistical data for SDGs indicates that the country did not take the protection of the environment seriously.

China adheres strictly to SDGs, especially when it comes to the protection of their environment. It is forbidden to cut down trees without authorization. One cannot dig holes recklessly anywhere. Any person who breaches the laid down conditions concerning the environment is either imprisoned or shot dead. Rivers are not polluted and the forest maintains its flora and fauna because encroachment laws are scrupulously observed.

Ghana and many African countries have neglected the environment which is one of the global goals signed by 153 member states. Galamsey has contributed greatly to the destruction of the environment. Several areas have become death traps due to abandoned and gaping holes. Water bodies which are sources of drinking water have been completely destroyed.

The Chinese also took advantage of Ghana's loose laws and negligence, and joined in the destruction of the environment as they recklessly hunt for gold. Destroying the environment is something they can never do in China.

The government has taken three goals of the sustainable development. How serious are we working to bring them to fruition before other goals are tackled?

These three goals are food security, good health and the environment. When Nana Addo launched a campaign for food security, which the Minister for Agriculture code-named: Planting for food and jobs, both Ghanaian farmers and non-farmers took the government's call seriously and planted more food. The government supported the farmers with finance and fertilizer.

Within a year or two, food of all types was abundant in Ghana. Ghana had the opportunity to export fresh and processed food thus winning Ghana some foreign exchange. Between 2015 and 2019, Ghana has seen an increase in food export revenue of GHc868.13million, an equivalent of 139million euros.

When it comes to food, the government did not go back on the good work done by previous governments.

Health insurance policy is still in place. It is the imperative wish of the UN for every country to immunize its citizens, especially children. Ghanaian hospitals and immunization centres are seriously engaged to immunize all Ghanaians

Ever since Nana Addo came to power, he has assured Ghanaians he will maintain a cleaner environment and all trees that are cut down and carried away shall be replaced. Just this month in June 2021, Nana Addo launched a return to greenness in the environment. A campaign code-named, Green Ghana was launched by the Minister of Agriculture. Since its inception, hundreds of thousands of trees have been planted throughout the country. Every Ghanaian, including chiefs, are involved. The fight against Galamsey must be brought to a successful end in order to save the environment.

The government must not only focus on the few goals but rather make an effort to achieve more of the Sustainable Development goals set up by the UN.