SUSTAINABILITY: the funding issue

Sustainability is about ensuring that the social economy is productive in a manner that ensures the next generation’s inheritance.

Sustainability is making the ecological space more livable and friendly, for both current and future generations.

This means that while we seek to make our present lives more comfortable, we are mindful of ensuring a much better space for the future generation.

Decades have seen countries in relentless efforts to raise the living standards of their people through industrialisation, but unsuccessfully. This is because economic development happened at the cost of ecological health and social equity.

For sustainability to be wholesome, economic, social and environmental impacts must be harmonised.

Economic: People must have secure and legal sources of livelihood.

Social: People must have basic necessities and rights in order to keep their families and communities healthy and secure, free from discrimination.

Environment: The ecological dignity should be maintained; such that these natural resources are able to replenish themselves.

Sustainability is about ensuring that the social economy is productive in a manner that ensures the next generation’s inheritance.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were obliged to sound an urgent call for action to end poverty and reduce inequality, while protecting our planet, tackling climate change and spurring economic growth.

Research work commissioned by the OECD however revealed that the world is very far from achieving these aims. Today, one in seven people in the OECD area still live in poverty.

The core of the problem remains a significant lack of investments dedicated to sustainability, resulting from the low level of private sector participation – Aid flows and other sources of public capital will not suffice to close the SDGs funding gap.

The barriers hindering private-sector participation have been the main debate among development finance experts. These range from Official Development Assistance (ODA) to investments of all kinds.

As for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) being the largest contributor to developing countries, it has dropped 40% since launch of the ‘Billions to Trillions’ vision in 2015.

The Billions to Trillions vision means a change of mindset from ‘billions’ in official development assistance (ODA) to ‘trillions’ in investments of all kinds: public, private, national and global.

Countries that need the greatest amount of development finance are often those which have domestic financial resource constraints and underdeveloped markets – Ghana won’t miss out.

Early in 2019, the OECD concluded on matters underlining how lack of sustainability investment is nowhere more evident than in Low-Income Countries (LICs). They also proved that finance for early stage firms and infrastructure projects remains scarce at best.

The Global Future Council on Development Finance, a group of 23 development finance experts convened by the World Economic Forum, also suggest that governments should move away from the ‘funding’ approach, which relies mainly on ODA and Public flows, to a ‘financing’ paradigm for development – allowing a holistic consideration and mobilisation of all public, private, domestic and international financing sources.

Community Naming Systems

Through improved regulations and policies, government could establish regimes that name villages/community after individuals/ organisations. This will automatically attract continual finance for development.

Particular slums or communities that need face-lifts/developments can be agreed with persons to be named after them. This means they are responsible for the face-lift and continual maintenance of that demarcated community.

Planners/geographers and architects at our various MMDCE levels, especially in the Metros, should devise very meticulous strategies that should see to the effective drawing of blue-prints for meeting this objective.

These blue-prints must be forwarded to central government, which will effectively liaise with the appropriate state agencies for further advice, costing and then approval.

As these agencies are permanent, they will help in sustaining activities beyond the project duration.

‘Investor A’, as meticulously noted, must be invited to the highest place of influence (seat of government?) and then the proposal to name that entire community after him/her is offered.

Investors must be target-specific – notable Individual/Celebrity, Businessman/woman, Philanthropist/Private Company, branch of specific Church etc.

Partisan politics must be removed from such ventures if this Private Partnership is to see maintenance and management continuity.

It must be a state Institution-led venture with heavy central government backing. This investor must not only own, but must be seen to own the entirety of the project.

How many blue-prints do we have sitting on shelves since independence? Yet funding issues are still crippling their effective implementation and construction.

Without their money, the experts/skilled brains at the various levels of public institutions will continue to sit in their offices drawing fat salaries with various allowances and per-diem month-on-month – their skill and knowledge never effectively tapped.

Individuals and Private Institutions have the money. They wish to help. They want to spend. But they also want to own that project and make perpetual names for themselves.

Investable Governance Systems

This is the capacity of government entities, advisers and local institutions to develop strategic financing plans for their SDGs.

In Ghana, government is the main driver of the country’s agenda, setting goals and priorities; hence the need to align the national agenda with SDGs in all sectors – including infrastructure, health, education, energy etc.

To finance these, it requires a very critical collaborative effort with private institutions in identifying opportunities so as to mobilise private capital for such developments and their future maintenance.

To accomplish this sustainability objective, the revenue stream must be of such magnitude it is sufficient to accomplish the project-build. This revenue also must be readily available to ensure long-term maintenance and monitoring of the project.

Community Involvement

To ensure continual financing and/or good use of the project, it is necessary to involve the community in planning and implementation phases of the project. This will assure them of ownership. Where needed, free in-community human resources will be procured.

They must buy into the strategy that there are high chances they may continue financing some project aspects in the community even after that investor (external branch church; businessman etc.) have completed the usable phase.

Community-Organisational Partnerships

Communities must put themselves up for adoption.

Chiefs, councils and opinion leaders at community levels must begin to seek hard-core alliances/partnerships with specific profit-making organisations (Banks, Insurance companies etc.). The organisation will commit material resources in the development of such places as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Such proposals from these communities must be such that the community in whole becomes the baby of this sponsor(s).

Institutionalise local groups

We currently see the proliferation of local groups/fun clubs sited in many communities. It won’t come as a surprise to understand that they play a very important role in maintaining many flagship programmes at their level.

This is a clear opportunity to sensitise them on focusing their very existence into achievable long-term project outcomes. The current objective of these groups is in the existence of fun and promoting individual(s) social agenda.

Let’s strengthen these local groups/clubs by giving them long-term reasons to function. Our chiefs and opinion leaders at these levels in the communities could offer real operational tooling.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead


Accountant and Lecturer

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