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NDPC reveals what Ghana has done in implementing SDGs

Sept. 25, 2015, 9:02 a.m.

President John Dramani Mahama will join several leaders from around the world at the United Nations in New York today September 25, 2015, to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs is a successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) which is the state agency responsible for incorporating the SDGs into Ghana’s national development agenda reveals its role in incorporating the SDGs over the years.

Below is Ghana's full implementation plan:


An Overview of Ghana’s Role in the Post-2015 Global Development Agenda

By the National Development Planning Commission, Ghana


At its Millennium Development Summit held in September 2010, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) agreed to develop a new global development framework to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were due to expire at the end of 2015. This new global development agenda would integrate both the concerns of Rio+20 and Post-2015 MDGs framework. An Open Working Group (OWG) comprising 70 countries, with Ghana being one of them, was subsequently constituted to develop a post-2015 global development agenda called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for consideration by the UNGA in 2015.

Since 2012, the OWG has been working to formulate the SDGs and their corresponding targets as the basis for the new global agenda, which will 2016 to 2030. The United Nations General Assembly in July 2014 endorsed 17 goals and 169 targets proposed by the OWG, following which several sessions of inter-governmental negotiations were convened in New York to draft a resolution for consideration by the 70th Regular Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 70), which opened on 15th September 2015 in New York. This will be followed by a Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, scheduled for 25-27 September 2015.

As the state agency responsible for development planning and the ultimate incorporation of the SDGs into the national development agenda, the National Development Planning Commission has been active in Ghana’s participation in the inter-governmental negotiations and associated international activities since 2012.

Ghana has been actively involved in the review of the outcomes of several United Nations conferences, including the Rio+20 (on Sustainable Development); International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD+20, 2014); Beijing+20, 2015); and the post-2015 global development agenda, 2015). The contributions of Ghana to these processes have included the following:

• National consultations on “The Ghana We Want”, as part of the global process for defining “The World We Want” for the post-2015 global development agenda.

• Participation in regional review conferences of the ICPD+20, Beijing+20, and Post 2015.

• Participation in the Open Working Group (OWG) and intergovernmental negotiations on the SDGs.

• Participation in the Finance for Development Conference, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

With respect to the preparation of the SDGs, the major activities have been the following:


The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), in partnership with the United Nations (UN) Country Team in Ghana, launched the first round of national consultations in November 2012 in Tamale, Northern Region. 

Two key objectives of the consultations were: (1) to stimulate a broad national debate on priorities that must constitute the post-2015 development agenda, and (2) provide opportunities for marginalised segments of society to participate in the global debate.

These consultations occurred in three phases. The first phase covered persons living with disabilities (PWDs), women, youth, traditional authorities, private sector, and academia principally from the three northern regions of Ghana. The second phase of the consultations consisted of a series of focus group discussions with 15 communities from all ten regions of Ghana, while the third phase targeted professional groups. 

The community focus sought to ensure that the voices of marginalized groups counted in the global discussions on the “The World We Want”. Social media tools, such as Facebook, mobile phone text messaging, radio and television were also employed to further public contributions. .

Priority issues identified through these interactions included the following:

• Job creation/ decent work

• Access to health care services

• Women empowerment and children’s welfare

• Quality education

• Population dynamics

• Improved sanitation

• Equitable distribution of wealth

• Persons with disability

The second round of national consultations took place in June 2014. Under the leadership of NDPC and the UN country team, these consultations were focused on exploring and proposing critical elements that would allow a successful implementation of the Post-2015 development agenda at various levels of government administration. 

The second round consultations took place at the national, district, and community levels and drew lessons from the implementation of the MDGs. 

The key findings from the consultations were:

• Avoid political party-colouration of development programmes;

• Build on local knowledge and techniques in order to improve local ownership of development programs;

• Ensure stronger (bottom-up) involvement of local-level stakeholders in development planning;

• Address negative cultural practices and other “soft” development issues;

• Improve transparency and accountability at all levels;

• Build on indigenous knowledge;

• Establish data and resource repositories at national and sub-national levels.

The findings from the first and second rounds of consultations were incorporated into the United Nations’ report, “A Million Voices: The World We Want” (2013).

Thematic consultations

Ghana and Denmark jointly coordinated global consultations on inequality. The final meeting was held in Copenhagen in 2013 and was jointly chaired by the chairman of NDPC and the Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs. As a follow-up, Ghana, in collaboration with UNDP and various partners, hosted a Pan-African conference on inequality from 28–30 April 2014. 

The theme for the conference was, “Tackling Inequalities and Promoting Structural Transformation in Africa”.

Coordination of national inputs for the Open Working Group

National coordination on the SDGs has been organized at three levels, two of which focus on various dimensions of the SDGs and the other on how to finance their implementation. 

The two working groups are the Inter-ministerial National Technical Committee (NTC) on the SDGs and the committee on financing for development with the High-Level Inter-ministerial Committee (HLIC) providing policy oversight.

The National Technical Committee (NTC)

In response to the initial 19 Focus Areas released by the OWG in February 2014, the Ghanaian government established a National Technical Committee comprising representatives of 22 government agencies, ministries and institutions as well as two civil society organisations. 

The committee’s primary task was to discuss and evaluate the Focus Areas to ensure that they reflected Ghana’s prevailing socio-economic situations and aspirations for the future. 

The NTC also provided the platform for collating inputs which provided the basis for Ghana’s negotiations at the Open Working Group Sessions and inter-governmental negotiations at the UN.

High-Level Inter-ministerial Coordinating Committee

The HLICC was constituted by NDPC with the aim of providing strategic guidance to the work of the NTC and ensuring greater coordination among the state agencies participating in the post-2015 development process. The committee comprises Ministers and Directors from 11 government agencies and ministries. The HLIC also sought to identify national priority issues that can be canvassed for inclusion in the SDGs. 

The committee will also galvanize support and promote coordination for the implementation of the SDGs.

The Committee on Financing for Development

The third track of the post-2015 agenda is on financing for development (FfD). As with the NTC, the goal of the Committee working on the FfD is to ensure that critical priority financing issues are factored in the debates on financing the post-2015 development goals. 

The committee is chaired by the Ministry of Finance and led Ghana’s participation at the Third International Conference on Development Financing held in Addis Ababa in July 2015.

Final Review of MDGs Implementation Outcomes

The National Development Planning Commission, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has since 2003undertaken biennial reviews of progress towards the MDGs. 

The last review, contained in the 2015 Millennium Development Goals Report, was launched on 22 September 2015 in preparation for the upcoming UN General Assembly in New York where the successor framework, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be launched.

Overall, the review shows that over 70% of targets under the 8 goals were attained in full or in part. The review showed that MDGs positively influenced policy and programme interventions and brought together development partners to build innovative alliances for enhanced effectiveness and mutual accountability.

Among the notable accomplishments were the following: – halving extreme poverty (MDG 1A); halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water (MDG 7B); universal primary education (MDG 2A); and gender parity in primary school (MDG 3). Significant progress was also made in reducing HIV prevalence (MDG 6C), increasing access to ICT (MDG 8F) and reducing the proportion of people suffering from hunger.


Following the adoption of the SDGs by the UN General Assembly, it would be necessary to build on the lessons from the implementation of the MDGs for the effective incorporation of the SDGs into the country’s development strategies, in particular the long-term national development plan. 

The following initiatives will feature prominently in this regard:

Technical Committee on SDGs, spearheaded by NDPC:

(i) Establish a Task Team to align the SDGs with the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (2014-2017) as well as the long-term national development plan.

Ghana Statistical Service and the relevant MDAs:

(ii) Deepen previous analysis on what data would be required for monitoring the SDGs and achievement of the targets.

(iii) Reflect in the Ghana Statistics Development Plan (GSDP) strategies for generating the required statistics from the most relevant sources for many of the SDG indicators.

(iv) Undertake complete assessment of the administrative sources of data, as envisaged in the GSGDA II, ensuring that the requirements for SDGs indicators are adequately taken into account.

NDPC and relevant MDAs and MMDAs

(v) Ensure that the SDGs are incorporated into the long-term national development plan and subsequent sector and district medium-term plans.

(vi) Devise innovative partnerships to mobilise resources (human, technology and financial).

Ministry of Finance

(vii) Mobilize resources both domestically and internationally to adequately support SDGs implementation within the context of Ghana’s national development needs.


The SDGs, along with their targets (as well as indicators to be developed in 2016) will be binding on member states of the United Nations. It is governments’ acknowledgement that the levels of poverty, environmental degradation and climate change as well as inequality of various dimensions, among others, are unacceptable and must be tackled as a matter of urgency in concerted global and national efforts. 

The SDGs in many tackle the “unfinished business” of the MDGs, in addition to new issues in development.

As heads of state adopt the resolution on the SDGs, state governments implicitly agree to prioritise the SDGs in their national development agenda and to participate in the regular monitoring of progress. 

They also undertake to invest in the areas of intervention, including statistical development, to ensure their full participation and effectiveness in the monitoring systems, both national and internationally.

Ghana has already set up systems for coordination of SDGs initially for the inputs to the international consultations, but would now have the extended mandate to actualise the programming of the SDGs.

There are lessons from the MDGs that can be brought to bear on the SDGs. The most fundamental are that:

• There must be a deliberate effort to adopt and implement the SDGs to avoid the mixed results obtained with the MDGs.

• There must be stronger partnerships with development agencies—global, regional and national—to capitalise on the synergies of the different programmes and interventions.

• There must be stronger emphasis on measuring progress in-country to avert surprises from the global reporting systems. 

• There will need to be regular reporting to the United Nations and participation in the established programme of reviews

• With the SDGs (17 goals) having more than double the goals of the MDGs, and about eight times the number of targets (169), there is substantially more commitment and dedication of resources necessary to achieve even the same mixed results of the MDGs (8 goals and 21 targets).

The general experience from the process and feedback suggests that Ghana is not only expected to be directly involved in these processes but also that the contributions made are highly valued. 

This implies that further investments in time and resources, including human, need to be sustained in the next 15 years, over the duration of the implementation of the SDGs as countries and regions are called to report on achievements at regular intervals.