The Giving Capsules: Take the SDG Pledge (5)


Let’s take the Sustainable Development Goals pledge together. Pledge with me to make sustainability a priority personally. Pledge with me, “I understand that my actions, behaviours and choices make an impact on society, the environment and our economy. I pledge to make intentional choices that will benefit the quality of life for myself and advocate for choices which benefit the lives of others”. Furthermore, I am requesting you to not only be amazing in life, but learn to #beHumane.

World leaders declared the period 2020 to 2030 as the Decade of Action for the Sustainable De­velopment Goals (SDGs) in September 2019. Unfortunately, a few months after this historic declaration our world was hit by the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, push­ing us into ‘unchartered territory, while fear and sheer terror gripped many.  The pandemic since then has had devastating effects on lives, livelihoods, global supply chains and businesses, and significant­ly eroded the development gains made over the last decade. And the prospects of achieving the SDGs have become more daunting, but giving up is not an option for all. As the world re-opens and begins to recover from the pandem­ic’s deleterious effects, the SDGs have become even more relevant as they present us with a credible pathway for a prosperous, inclusive, resilient and peaceful world. Continuing from previous publication…

Let’s review the status of the indicators as reported in the Ghana 2022 Voluntary National Report (VNR) on the SDGs.

SDG Goal 11 is: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The increasing number of people living in slums is an issue for consideration. The number of people living in slum areas has increased from 5.5 million in 2017 to 8.8 million in 2020, representing an increase of about 60 percent. However, slum dwellers as a proportion of total population has declined from 39.3% in 2017 to 28.2% in 2020. According to the UN-Habitat, a slum household is defined as one in which the inhabitants suffer one or more of the following household deprivations: lack of access to an improved water source and sanitation facilities; lack of sufficient living area and housing durability, as well as lack of tenure-security. At present, there are about 23 slums in the country; and the urban housing shortage has led to some households using makeshift structures.

The most common source of disaster was wind, rainstorm, then floods, domestic fires and bush-fires. To reduce the impact of disasters, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) carried out education and sensitisation programmes and performed field-trips as well as supporting disaster victims; however, targetting remains a great concern.

The increasing share of households not having their solid waste collected, as well as the general higher air-pollution in selected high-risk areas of Accra, is of concern. As well as the limited digital transition of most creative and cultural businesses, there are emerging issues for consideration. Data from the 2010 and 2021 population and housing census indicate an improvement in proportion of households which have their solid waste collected, but some more work needs to be done.

Methods of solid waste disposal included collected waste (51.4% urban, 5.8% rural); public dumping or open source waste (24.6% urban, 57.35 rural); and uncollected waste (24.0% urban, 36.8% rural) for 2021 as postulated by the population and housing census. Comprehensive data on particular matter in all cities is not available. On average, the highest pollution was recorded on the Graphic Road while the lowest was recorded in the North Industrial area. The level of air-pollution is compounded by toxic smoke from car exhausts, mostly from old vehicles; burning of residential trash; and dust from unpaved and unvegetated surfaces.

We can make efforts to reduce and manage food-waste, and develop participatory platforms that enable us to hear all voices. We can consider the use of public transport and bike-riding to reduce carbon emission. However, public transport systems must be made to address efficient use of time and convenience as we dedicate walking space for pedestrians and respect for our friends with disability.

Goal 12 is: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.  The emerging issue to consider includes low levels of waste recycling and high level of food-waste and post-harvest losses. Post-harvest losses are a major challenge to the agricultural value chain, mainly attributed to limited access to ready markets and storage facilities for crops and seeds. Ghana’s household food-waste index was estimated at 84kg/capita per year in 2015, which is lower than the average for lower-income countries (91kg/capita per year) but higher than the average high-income countries (79kg/capita per year).

Projected estimates by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture revealed a general decline in post-harvest losses, with rice and sorghum seeing major declines rather than yam. Over the period, 63 warehouses have been constructed across the country; each with 1,000mt capacity, at minimum, to reduce post-harvest losses. Promotion of improved harvesting technologies as well as purchases and storage of farm produce for a buffer have supported the narrative.

Ghana’s plastic waste can be recovered at an 82% rate and recycled with existing technologies into value-addition products with high demand locally and within the sub region, as put forward by the 2020 national plastic management policy. We can all take actions to cut back on single-use plastics, incorporate plan-based meals for a more sustainable diet and future as simple daily actions to take in supporting realisation of this SDG goal.

Goal 13 is: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Ghana remains vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including flooding, tidal surges and high temperatures. Increased exposure to environmental and man-made disasters as well as inadequate early warning systems are part of the emerging issues. Climate change remains a priority area of focus for Ghana, and is to be mainstreamed into the preparation of national budgets to ensure adequate funding for climate resilience and then in all national development policy frameworks spanning 2022-2025.

This same climate change discourse has been integrated into school curriculums at all levels, and this is evident in the new kindergarten and primary school curricula; particularly in Science, Our World our People, and Religious and Moral Education. Ghana has equally developed a number of strategies and owns a masterplan developed to deal with the sectorial implementation of climate actions. Over the past five decades, Ghana like many other countries has witnessed a significant number of climate hazards, including droughts and flooding. As a party to the Paris Agreement, Ghana has voluntarily decided to implement article 6.2 – cooperative approaches on carbon market. The cooperation is expected to increase private sector participation in the carbon market, create jobs, promote technology transfer and unlock business opportunities in the climate change space.

We can consider the choice of using composting for food scraps, which can reduce climate impact while also recycling nutrients; or choose reusable products. When next you want to go shopping, think of an eco-bag for shopping and a reusable water-bottle or cup to help reduce plastic waste, and dispose of them properly.

Goals 14 is: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. With emerging issues pointing to low levels of plastic recycling and increasing plastic debris in the oceans, as well as over-exploitation of Ghana’s marine fisheries resources resulting in continuous decline of fish stocks, a number of interventions have been considered to support, manage and address these challenges.

Ghana generates around 1.1 million tonnes of plastic waste per year by estimate, of which about 5% is collected for recycling. Most plastic waste generated is poorly managed, resulting in littering and clogging drains and watercourses – with an estimated 250,000 tonnes dumped into the Atlantic Ocean annually. Since 2019, Ghana has been practicing seasonal closures for artisanal fishers as a means of conserving and managing fisheries. The one-month ‘closed season’, also referred to as a ‘biological rest period’, refers to stopping commercial fishing during the spawning period to reduce pressure on stocks. The same season has introduced alternative livelihood activities for fisher-folk.

We can take little actions, as much of the waste we produce on land ends up in the oceans. Stop using plastic bags; at least, let’s use the bio-degradable ones: wrong usage and disposal of plastic is a major cause of marine pollution. You may want to consider running a campaign about the effects of plastic use on the seas and oceans, or organise a clean-up project for rivers and oceans.

Goal 15 is: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss.

High illegal mining in forests and protected areas as well as poor protection of protected areas are some of the emerging issues for consideration. Forest area as a proportion of total land area improved marginally. A total area of 17,118.3 ha of forest plantation was established against a target of 15,000ha. In addition, 19 million seedlings and mahogany species were planted as the forest areas are threatened by illegal logging and mining activities – galamsey.

Other pressures on the forests include farming and fuel-wood collection, and the uncontrolled conversion of forest areas leading to degradation continue to be the greatest threats to sustainable natural resources management. There have been various institutions implementing diverse policies on forest and wildlife development toward sustainable forest management.  Galamsey is a major challenge to the country. You can commit to stop illegal mining and logging today. Take the SDG pledge now.

Earlier publications reviewed progress made for SDG goals 1 to 15. Subsequent editions will: Review Goal 15 in depth protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification; and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss.  Goal 16 obliges us to: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Goal 17 focuses on: Means to strengthen Implementation and Revitalisation of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.

The writer 

Baptista is a Hybrid Professional and the Executive Director of ProHumane Afrique International.  ProHumane is a charitable, development & think-thank organisation working with communities & individuals to create sustainable solutions to transform communities through diverse pro-poor initiatives. Pro-poor initiatives are initiatives that help to alleviate poverty. Baptista is a realist, affable, simple and humane. You can reach us via e-mail on [email protected]  and follow this conversation on all our social media sites: Linked-In/ Twitter/ Facebook/ Instagram: ProHumane Afrique International. Call or WhatsApp: +233(0)262213313. Hashtag: #behumane #thegivingcapsules #prohumaneafriqueint #fowc

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