Dr Mohamed ibn Chambas, a former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for West Africa, says with current growth trajectory, the world is unlikely to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets by 2030.
He said the SDGs agenda, although a laudable objective, this was now unlikely to be attained as the world was lagging behind in most, if not all, of the 17 objectives.
Dr Chambas stated this in Accra, when he launched the memoirs of the late Mr Alexander Quaison-Sackey, Ghana’s former Foreign Minister and the first African to serve as President of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.
The book launch was organised by the Council on Foreign Relations Ghana (CFRG) in collaboration with the family of the late Mr Quaison-Sackey.
The 429 paged book, which was completed and edited by Madam Awo Aferba Quaison-Sackey, daughter of the late Mr Quaison-Sackey is a thrilling -albeit incomplete – life story, elegantly written.
Dr Chambas noted that the development agenda of the world remains stalled; saying “We are told in the book that the 1960s was declared the ‘development decade’.”
“Sixty years later, this decade is the final decade for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 2015) aimed at halving poverty by 50 per cent in the developing countries.”
He said on Goal 1 for example, it had now been established that the world would miss the target by 2030.
He said the UN report on the SDGs for 2021 projects that by 2030, global poverty rate would be at seven per cent that was about 600 million people, meaning that the vision to eradicate poverty would be missed.
“In spite of the efforts of global partners, poverty (especially as measured by the absolute number of poor people) was already increasing in certain parts of the world.” Dr Chambas stated.
He said however, the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated this trend; stating that in 2020 alone, up to 124 million more people fell below the poverty line.
Dr Chambas said similar trends could be seen on Goal 2 focused on ending hunger.
He said close to a billion people faced hunger in 2020, an increase of 161 million from 2019, while the prevalence of undernourishment increased from 8.4 per cent in 2019 to nearly 10 per cent in 2020; stating that “In addition, inequality is widening both between countries and within countries”.
He said while East and South Asian countries were noted to be making significant progress, much of sub-Saharan Africa is not making much progress.
He said a report authored by renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs and his colleagues showed that majority of African countries were in the bottom pile of the SDG index, along with Latin American and Caribbean countries.
“Perhaps Ghana best illustrates within-country disparities on SDG progress,” Dr Chambas said.
He said by 2015 when the final MDG report was issued, before SDGs were launched, Ghana was said to have achieved the target of halving the poverty rate ahead of schedule from 51 per cent in 1994 to 24 per cent in 2006.
Dr Chambas said however, the Northern part of the country remained behind in most of the indicators such that by 2018, the Ghana Statistical Service reported that while the poverty rate in Greater Accra region was 2.5 per cent, it was 61.1 per cent in Northern region, 54.8 per cent in Upper East and 70.9 per cent in Upper West region.
He said the recently released multi-dimensional poverty profile of Ghana shows a similar picture; adding that this clearly indicates that the SDG goal of “leaving no one behind is far from being on track”.
“A whole lot of people is being left behind,” he said.
By Iddi Yire, GNA