Reflections on inclusion, innovation and accelerating the future we want

January 30, 2023

The UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana, Angela Lusigi, interacting with a young Ghanaian Entrepreneur, Bernice Daapah, Founder of Global Bamboo Bicycles, who was supported by the UNDP GEF Programme to bring her idea of making bicycles from bamboos into a striving business.

Photo @Praise Nutakor/UNDP


In 2022, our blogs explored key development issues in Ghana and across the continent. With thanks to all who contributed and engaged through UNDP’s social media platforms, I look forward to continuing our vibrant exchange. First a quick recap of selected articles on inclusion,  innovation and the future we want followed by a preview of 2023.

Inclusion is all about who and why

Reducing inequalities in society requires a conscious effort in identifying who is being left behind, understanding why they are being left behind and finding sustainable ways of advancing their inclusion.

In February, I recognised the progress made in engaging women in science and the challenges that remain. In  Women and Girls in Science and Technology: Bridging the gender gap, I highlighted some of the initiatives women in science were pioneering across the continent to accelerate achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). I proposed ways of bridging the gender gap including mentoring opportunities, targeting women and investing more in women-led research.

In May, I focused on having more women engaged in peace processes to achieve the SDGs.  The article, Sustaining peace by advancing inclusion highlighted the low participation of women in peacekeeping operations and conflict resolution processes. Suggestions put forward to increase their participation included involving and empowering women, recognising women’s achievements in the field and increasing recruitment and training of women in national and international peace-building and peacekeeping operations.

In August, I explored the fact that Africa hosts one third of the forcibly displaced population globally, with three quarters of that being internally displaced. The article, Internal displacement: The silent epidemic showed how women, youth and members of other marginalised groups are being disproportionately affected. I proposed leveraging transformative shifts such as big data and digitalization, urbanisation and innovative risk insurance financing to enable African countries address the issue of internal displacement urgently and as sustainably as possible.

In October, in Towards zero poverty: dignity for all in practice, I emphasised the fact that poverty is not solely an economic issue and reiterated the need to pursue development with dignity and ensure no one is left behind. This can be achieved through collective intelligence and co-creating solutions to address the root causes of persistent poverty.

Innovation goes beyond solving problems to a new image of ourselves and our world

In April, I showcased how Africa’s young people are turning ideas into products, services and revenue streams, putting them at the forefront of the creative and innovative sectors. In, Harnessing Africa’s creativity and innovation, I discussed practical strategies for fostering creativity and critical thinking at the early stages to enable young people to grow their innovative potential and reach for the stars.

In March, I provided a new take on  Measuring happiness from an African perspective. I argued for an Afro-centric view of happiness rooted in a sense of shared community. We must change the perception of what constitutes happiness in the African context. Areas that enable our collective happiness and well-being include our innate resilience, remarkable biodiversity and cultural diversity.

In September, I looked at unlocking Africa’s tourism potential and enhancing its resilience and sustainability in the post-covid era. In the article, Rethinking tourism as a pathway for development, I advocated diversifying Africa’s tourism market and adding value to Africa’s natural assets. This requires strategic investments in preserving natural assets, supporting community led initiatives and showcasing Africa’s rich heritage and culture.

The Future we want is for development with dignity, capability and resilience

In June, I focused on  Growing resilient MSMEs in Africa for a sustainable future. Unlocking the significant potential of youth and women-led MSMEs is key to ensuring the inclusive and sustainable development necessary for realising the continent’s economic aspirations.

In July, it was time to consider lasting solutions to  Equipping youth with skills for the future.  I reflected on the needs of the future and suggested three skills that today’s youth need to unlock current and future opportunities: Digital Intelligence, Relational Intelligence and Collective Intelligence.

In November, the emphasis was on helping African countries achieve high growth rates, diversify their economies, reduce food insecurity and reduce their exposure to external shocks. The key  message in  Industrialization from the ground up: Transforming rural spaces through agro-industry is the need to focus on local economies and embrace digitalization, skills training and infrastructure development to advance Africa’s Industrialisation Agenda.

Looking forward

In 2023, the world remains in the grip of complex and interconnected climate, economic, social and environmental risks and uncertainties. Yet there are opportunities to accelerate collective action as we approach the halfway point of the SDG agenda. ‘Acceleration’ is the overriding theme for this year as advanced by both the African Union and the United Nations. Specifically, what strategic actions will help accelerate Africa’s trade integration and structural transformation agenda with a people’s face? What are the priority investments required to advance towards a future where people are at peace with people and with nature? Stay connected and follow UNDP Ghana on all our platforms to add your voice to this debate.

Read more of the 2022 pieces here.

In 2023, the world remains in the grip of complex and interconnected climate, economic, social and environmental risks and uncertainties. Yet there are opportunities to accelerate collective action as we approach the halfway point of the SDG agenda.
Angela Lusigi