UN says Ghana’s track record on sustainable development is mix achievement

Ghana’s track record in achieving sustainable development shows some mixed accomplishment, Ms Ruby Sandhu-Rojon, United Nations Resident Coordinator, said on Thursday in Accra.

She said while the country had managed to graduate from a low income to a middle-income economy, leading to overall increase in GDP per capita, the “tragedy” of averages in the accomplishment was masking the deepening inequalities amongst different people and also between northern and southern parts of the country.

Ms Sandhu-Rojon made the comments at the opening of an orientation programme organised in Accra on Thursday for Ghana’s delegates to the Rio+20 Conference to be held in Brazil in June 2012.

She said the structural fundamentals of the economy were skewed, particularly when viewed from the perspective of job creation and inclusive growth.

Ms Sandhu-Rojon said “manufacturing, the sector with high potential to create employment, had decreased, while agriculture that had the potential to engage the majority of the poor had been overtaken by the service sector.”

“Sixty percent of foreign direct investment goes to extractive industries, notably oil and mining, an economic activity where value addition is almost non-existent and the environmental impacts are enormous.”

Ms Sandhu-Rojon expressed worry that the negative impacts of resource extraction on women and communities were rarely measured and articulated.

On Ghana’s social performance, she said while “we celebrate the success in reducing the overall levels of poverty in Ghana especially in the South, the tragedy of averages is again overlooking the fact that poverty in northern Ghana has in fact increased.”

Ms Sandhu-Rojon said “While primary school enrollment rate has increased, the disaggregated figure by gender shows that the enrollment rate for females is still lower than those for males,” she added.

She said as primary providers of fuel and water for most households, women were more likely to bear the brunt of energy poverty and water scarcity.

She described the environment pillar as the weakest link adding that estimates showed that the annual cost of natural resource and environmental degradation in Ghana was equivalent to about 9.6% of GDP due to unsustainable exploitation of the country’s forests, land resources, wildlife, and fisheries, and the health impacts of environmental factors (water supply and sanitation, indoor and outdoor pollution).

Ms Sandhu-Rojon said the country had experienced rapid deforestation in recent years with damaging consequences for biodiversity and populations who were culturally and economically dependent on forest resources and ecosystem services.

Speaking on the Rio conference, she said the persistence of challenges confronting sustainable development was one of the reasons that had necessitated a renewed commitment to sustainable development.

Ms Sandhu-Rojon said, “We need to think big. The moment is ripe to advance the agenda of sustainable development from theory and uneven progress to decisive implementation.”

Sandhu-Rojon said though Rio+20 Conference should reinforce political commitments, she stressed that the most critical action needed to begin at “home” after the conference.

Source: GNA

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