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High-Level Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee set up for SDGs

June 11, 2015, noon

A High-Level Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has met at the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC). The meeting focused on the best ways to coordinate the process of ensuring that Ghana’s positions are fully promoted in the ongoing inter-governmental negotiations. Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, chairman of the committee, informed members that they would receive a full Terms of Reference to clarify the scope of what was expected of them.

The Director-General of NDPC, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, said the role of the Commission on the Committee was one of coordinating the work of different government agencies in the SDGs process, as NDPC is the focal point on all national development issues.

The leader of the Technical Group and a member of the Open Working Group on the SDGs, Ms. Christine Asare, informed the Committee of the contributions made by Ghana to international negotiations on the framework for the Post-2015 Development Agenda. She said that a technical committee comprising a number of ministries, departments and agencies had been established and was involved in the negotiations.

She said that 17 goals and 169 targets were compiled for the Agenda. These covered various topics including agricultural subsidies, health needs, energy, sustainable cities, gender, women and children, and desertification.

She stated that Africa had a common position and the final documents were not open for further negotiation even though some developed nations had attempted a re-negotiation of goals and targets in the document.

She added that targets for the SDGs were still under consideration and since Africa was not familiar with some, its position was that it did not understand the targets set by the UN. Clarifying the situation, she indicated that the UN had confirmed that the indicators would not be ready until March 2016. This, according to Ms. Asare, implied that by September 2015, when Heads of State sign on to the SDGs, the agreed indicators would not be finalised.

It had become clear that official statistics in developing countries had enormous gaps and that such countries needed urgently to bridge those gaps because statistical commissions would be expected to play important roles in the tracking and monitoring of the SDGs. Ghana, if committed, is no exception.

In his closing remarks, the Chair of the National Development Planning Commission, Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, commended Ms. Asare for her excellent presentation, which he described as both sobering and inspiring.

He acknowledged the fact that there was a lot to be done and suggested that the government may set aside a special budget to cater for negotiators’ expenses when they travel to negotiate on behalf of the nation.

Dr. Botchwey urged members of the High-Level Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee to treat all committee meetings with the requisite seriousness to ensure that extensive consideration was given to all relevant issues.