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Government holds SDGs “Innovation Challenge” to solicit smart business ideas

The SDGs Advisory Unit in the Office of the President has organised a three-day event dubbed the ‘SDGs Day Out in Ho’ under the auspices of the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who is also co-Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Eminent Group of Advocates for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The event was organised in partnership with the Volta Regional Coordinating Council, the Association of Ghana Industries (Eastern, Volta and Oti Regions), Volta Region House of Chiefs, Ho Technical University, and Ho Node Hub with support from UNDP, UNFPA, Okyeman Environment Foundation, Bank of Africa, Daily Graphic, EPA, and National Lotteries Authority Good Causes Foundation.

The event fostered strategic engagements with government officials, businesses, traditional leaders, and the youth around the SDGs to help revamp, and diversify the economy of the Volta Region, as well as respond to many of the development challenges that exist in the region.

Champions of development 

Addressing chiefs and queen mothers at the Volta Region House of Chiefs, the Presidential Advisor on SDGs, Dr Eugene Owusu, noted that “traditional leaders have been champions of development within their communities and, crucially, they have been at the forefront of critical national issues including notably fostering peace and social cohesion, promoting our gorgeous culture, and leading the fight to protect our environment.”

He also urged that the key to implementing the SDGs is going to be the extent to which the voices, the influence, the expertise and the great assets of traditional leaders are inherent.

Speaking on the topic “The Central Role of Chiefs in Localising the SDGs”, Dr Mensah-Abrampa, the Director-General of NDPC, who is also the Fotosanfuohene of Denkyira, recommended some practical ways through which Chiefs could help push the SDGs Agenda.

He noted that Paramount Chiefs could leverage their esteemed position to provide leadership in shaping the local development agenda, mobilise their people and resources to support the implementation of the SDGs, and foster inclusiveness and accountability in local development.

He further suggested that well-performing chiefs could be acknowledged during festivals to inspire others to find innovative ways to accelerate local development.

The quest to build back and forward better from the pandemic is constrained by the stake reality of poor planetary health as reflected in the effects of Climate Change and Ocean Pollution. COVID-19, Climate Change and the poor health of the Ocean represent a triple tipping point for the development which requires urgent actions.

Collaboration efforts from all

At the SDGs Forum, hosted by the Ho Technical University, the panellist highlighted critical actions required by the government, private sector, academia and development partners in dealing with the challenges posed by COVID-19, Climate change and plastic pollution.

They warned that the world is edging dangerously to a tipping point beyond which we run a risk of causing irreparable damage to the planet with disastrous consequences for humanity.

Akosua Frema Osei Opare, the Chief of Staff to the President who served as the keynote speaker said: “We must act now, and do so with our hearts and soul, and with a great sense of urgency to safeguard our environment and natural resources that God has so graciously blessed us with, and bring about the transformational development and prosperity that our people so earnestly desire. We have a moral duty and obligation to succeed for the sake of current and future generations.”

She further highlighted that the efforts towards achieving the SDGs must be driven with a sense of urgency, in nurturing and fully leveraging innovation to accelerate and deepen climate action, boost SDGs implementation and regenerate our oceans.

Within the context of the SDGs is an investment for the youth, the SDGs Innovation Challenge was held to solicit smart and scalable business ideas from young entrepreneurs.

The contest and winners

Ten finalists from a pool of 58 submissions were selected to pitch their solutions before a panel of judges. The first prize of GHC 20,000 went to Ehmblehm Farms which focused on Goal 2 – Zero Hunger.

The first runner up was WAC which focused on Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation with the second runner up being Viztaedu which focused on digitalising education to achieve Goal 4 – Quality Education. The first and second runners-up received GHc15,000 and GHC10,000 cash awards respectively.

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