The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as we all know were adopted by the United Nations Member State in New York on 25th September, 2015.

The seventeen (17) SDGs and their 169 targets sought to address the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and represented the vision of the global action to end poverty, protect the planet and as well as ensure that every tom, dick, and harry enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

Strong partnerships between all stakeholders are paramount to the achievement of the SDGs and the translation of the goals into action with tangible results by the year 2030.

Therefore, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), private sector, the media, development partners and all citizens have critical roles to play in the achievement of the SDGs. Most importantly, CSOs work with the most vulnerable and deprived in rural communities, making the SDGs mandate of “leaving no one behind” the cornerstone of civil society’s contribution to the achievement of the goals.

In order to ensure a more coordinated civil society efforts in achieving the SDGs in Ghana by 2030, was birthed the Ghana Civil Society (CSO) Platform on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in October 2015.

The platform was however institutionalised in May 2016, in order to bring together CSOs working on the SDGs under one umbrella. The platform is also made up of 18 Sub-platforms where seventeen of these are linked to the SDGs, with a Sub-platform on youth issues. Each Sub-platform has a convener and between two and five co-conveners.

The platform, has over three hundred members covering the range of non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community-Bassed Organizations (CBOs) in Ghana, and also provides an avenue for CSOs to foster joint efforts, build partnerships with key stakeholders, and ensure effective advocacy for achieving the SDGs at the district, regional and national levels.

The Ghana CSOs platform, has played a major role in encouraging and strengthening a multi-stakeholder approach towards the implementation of the SDGs in Ghana. For the first time, CSOs have been mainstreamed into the national development implementation structures, with representation on the various national SDGs implementation committees and entities. And through their representation on these national platforms, CSOs in Ghana have had the opportunity to make direct inputs into national policies and contributed to the development of SDGs-related frameworks.

To affirm the aforementioned, the platform, on Thursday 4th June, 2019, launched the first VNR Shadow Report, at the Coconut Groove Hotel in Accra, to assess Ghana’s progress on the attainment of the SDGs.

The purpose of the shadow report was to complement Government’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) report and to promote mutual accountability on the implementation of the SDGs.

The 65-page report with funding support from GIZ and other implementing partners, was dubbed, “progress on the SDGs: Telling the Ghanaian story through the lens of citizens.”

The report also focuses on the 6 SDGs that are geared towards the 2019 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) by the United Nations (UN), which will take place in New York on July 17, 2019.

This year’s HLPF, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is under the theme, “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.”

Explained by the country director of SEND-GHANA, Mr. George Osei-Bimpeh, the set of Goals to be reviewed at the forum are 4 (quality education), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduced inequality), 13 (climate change), 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), and 17 (partnership for the goals).

The forum, he said, was scheduled from July 9 to July 18, 2019, including a three-day ministerial meeting from July 16 to July 18, 2019.

Reviewing the report, Dr. Esther Ofei-Aboagye, Chairperson of STAR-Ghana Foundation and a social policy analyst, observed that, there was a strong national level institutions arrangement but weak level coordination and a low level of awareness and citizens’ ownership of the SDGs.

She indicated that, CSOs contribute significantly to SDGs implementation but requires replication and scaling up. She also said the CSOs platform was vibrant and a catalytic network, but its presence at the sub-national level required strengthening.

Dr. Ofei-Aboagye, further disclosed that, three years into implementation, Ghana’s performance and progress are a mixture of successes and challenges and a weak CSOs involvement in data collection on the SDGs implementation.

Representing the Minister for Planning, Professor George Gyan-Baffour, Dr. Esther Asare, noted that, at inter-governmental stages of the SDGs development, CSOs have partnered and contributed constructively to national and global discussions on the global goals.

Saying, “For this and many reasons, I deem it an honour to join in the launch of the VNR Shadow report of CSOs in Ghana. It is an illustration of our commitment to fostering and strengthening partnerships in working to complement each other through the structures that government has put in place to accelerate progress towards to achievement of the SDGs in Ghana.”

“As noted in the VNR report, objective of the VNR is to facilitate sharing of experiences and mutual learning, including our successes, our challenges and our lessons learned, with a few to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 agenda of SDGs. Thus, as Ghana prepares to present her first VNR report this month…..and like I said, we are on go…. we start leaving tomorrow to New York, for this very historic event in our nation. It is our expectation that the shadow VNR would provide information to enrich and confirm the main country VNR report and also help identify challenges and gaps which may have been lost at the national level due to the aggregation of data at the level compared to the shadow VNR report which was based on primary data collected at the Sub-national levels.”

Dr. Esther Asare, therefore indicated that, government sees the VNR Shadow report as providing an opportunity to further engage and scrutinize the VNR Ghana report and also provide opportunity to review the strategies and structures that have been adopted as well as the partnerships that have been created for the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs.

“This will ensure that, no one is left behind in the efforts to improve the quality of life of our people,” She said.

On her part, Mrs. Beauty Emefa Narteh, Co-Chair of the CSOs Platform on SDGs, and the executive secretary of GACC, intimated that, the objective of the report was to review the country’s progress towards achieving the SDGs and as well as reflect on CSOs perspective in complementing the government’s VNR Report.

She also added that, the findings and recommendations outlined in the report were a critical overview of their strength as Civil Society and the pathway to effective advocacy and gaps needed to be filled in efforts to achieving the SDGs in Ghana by 2030.

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