President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged other world leaders to capitalise on opportunities created by the COVID-19 crisis to work towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“As the world strives to deal with the challenges posed by the pandemic, we have to turn the crisis into an opportunity and ramp up actions necessary to achieve the SDGs,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo, who is also the co-Chair of the Group of Eminent Advocates of the 2030 SDGs, was speaking at the 2021 SDGs moment on the “Decade of Action” at the UN Headquarters in New York yesterday.
He recounted the 2019 Declaration in which world leaders declared the period 2020 to 2030 as the decade of action and called on all member states of the UN to step up and scale up significant actions to give the world a fighting chance of achieving the SDGs by 2030.
The President said a few months after the historic declaration, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, with a devastating effect on lives and livelihoods.
“Available estimates indicate that in 2020 alone, some 124 million people were pushed back into extreme poverty, with some 132 million people experiencing hunger as a result of the pandemic.
“The net effect of these adverse developments is that our world is unlikely to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by 2030,” he said.
He described the quest to achieve the SDGs in the wake of the pandemic as more daunting and urged world leaders “to think big, act big and act smartly”.
He said as countries took action to address the effects of the pandemic, the world could not afford to perpetuate unsustainable development by disturbing the critical balance among economic, social and environmental imperatives.
“Our recovery measures and interventions cannot and should not be de-linked from actions to ensure prosperity, promote peace, protect people and safeguard the planet.
“Undeniably, the SDGs provide a sound framework for responding to the pandemic and putting communities, businesses and ecosystems on a sustainable pathway,” the President said.
He proposed two essential ingredients for the task of building and scaling-up actions to hasten progress towards the realisation of the SDGs.
According to him, there was a pressing need to bridge the US$2.5 trillion SDGs financing gap, especially for developing countries where the human development deficit was greatest.
“With an estimated US$360 trillion available in global financial assets as of 2019, the resources to finance the SDGs are certainly available.
“The question raised is whether the rich countries of the world are, thus, prepared to accept the new paradigm of the SDGs and play their part or not,” he said.
The President further called for the deployment of innovative solutions and new technologies that would speed up progress towards the goals.
“New forms of social practice and organisation, as well as new and improved technological products and processes, are key enablers for achieving the SDGs.
“While embracing innovation, deliberate steps should be taken to discourage innovations that contribute to environmental degradation, are disruptive of livelihoods and exacerbate inequalities,” President Akufo-Addo added.