Using the SDG Interlinkages Tool for Ghana, the synergies and trade-offs of the top solutions for building effective urban–rural linkages were analyzed, and the results are presented as follows.
Gender inclusiveness to strengthen urban–rural linkages: SDG synergies and trade-offs
The SDG interlinkage analysis reaffirms the findings in Somanje et al. (2020) that gender inclusiveness is a crucial social element for addressing Ghana’s urban–rural dichotomy. Policies for improving gender inclusiveness generate synergistic spillover effects on several SDG areas, contributing to the sound development in both urban and rural areas. Although eight SDG targets are found to be related to gender inclusiveness (Table 1), only three of them have relevant indicators with trackable data. Figure 10 in Appendix 2 shows the historical trends of the three indicators. Figure 2 shows the synergies of the eight gender-related targets, indicated as fluorescent blue nodes at the bottom of the figure, with other SDG targets. Given Ghana’s existing SDG trends, enhancing gender inclusiveness is expected to positively affect a range of SDG goal areas and targets. These include many social targets related to poverty (Goal 1), hunger (Goal 2), health and well-being (Goal 3), quality education (Goal 4), gender and other inequalities (Goal 5 and 10), and basic services, such as access to water (Goal 6) and housing and transport (Goal 11). In the context of the existing inequalities between urban and rural areas in these social development areas, gender inclusiveness solutions could help in bridging the gaps by strengthening the positive linkages. It will also boost the economic dimension of sustainability, as evidenced by the positive links of gender-related targets with many targets related to economic growth and job creation (Goal 8), and industrial development (Goal 9).
Achieving gender inclusiveness also relies on other influencing factors. Figure 3 shows that progress in many other SDG goal areas could affect Ghana’s efforts to achieve gender inclusiveness, either positively or negatively. For instance, Target 5.5 on enhancing women’s participation in decision-making is reinforced by progress in ending hunger and malnutrition (Goal 2), access to reproductive healthcare services (Goal 3), reduced gender disparities in education (Goal 4), access to water, sanitation (Goal 6) and housing services (Goal 11), improved working conditions and decent work (Goal 8), improved rule of law (Goal 16), and partnerships (Goal 17), among others. Strengthening these areas would accelerate progress in achieving gender equality.
Meanwhile, certain measures could negatively affect gender-related targets (Fig. 3). For instance, given the past and current trends in Ghana, a couple of lagged areas, including industrial development, the transport sector, and employment are the development drags reducing gender disparities in education (Target 4.5) and improving women’s participation in decision-making (Target 5.5). Addressing these lagged areas could remove the drags and achieve further improvement in gender inclusiveness in Ghana.
Investment in basic services and infrastructure to strengthen urban–rural linkages: SDG synergies and trade-offs
Significant urban–rural disparities are observed in basic services, such as access to food, water, energy, housing, and economic infrastructure. Nine basic-services-related SDG targets were identified for improving urban–rural linkages in Ghana (Table 1). Seven out of nine targets have relevant indicators with trackable data. Figure 11 in Appendix 2 shows the historical trend of the seven targets. Figure 4 shows that progress in the nine target areas could help in achieving several other SDG targets through positive linkages. These synergistic areas include poverty elimination (Goal 1), zero hunger (Goal 2), good health and well-being (Goal 3), quality education (Goal 4), inequalities reduction (Goal 10), economic growth and decent works (Goal 8), sustainable industrial development (Goal 9), sustainable cities (Goal 11), sustainable consumption and production (Goal 12), and good governance and partnership (Goals 16 and 17). Furthermore, it will strengthen climate actions (Goal 13). Some conflicting relationships are also observed. For instance, improved access to basic services, such as energy (Target 7.1) and housing (Target 11.1), could increase the pressure to resources use (Target 12.2) and associated emissions, endangering public health from pollution (Goal 3), and increasing industrial emissions because of fossil-based energy use (Target 9.4). Therefore, measures promoting basic services in Ghana must pay attention to these trade-offs, specifically regarding the competition for resource allocation.
Basic services also depend on the progression of other SDGs, which is captured in the inward linkages (Fig. 5). For example, Targets 6.1 and 6.2 (access to water and sanitation) are positively affected by measures to reduce poverty (Goal 1) and hunger (Goal 2), improved disease control (Goal 3), enhanced access to education (Goal 4), women’s participation in education (Goal 5), increased access to energy (Goal 7) and housing (Goal 11), inclusive growth, economic productivity and efficiency (Goal 8), access to information and communication technology (Goal 9), official development assistance (ODA) (Goal 10), sustainable use of freshwater, improved rule of law (Goal 16), and measures for promoting sustainable development (Goal 17). Strengthening these positive linkages will accelerate the progress in universal access to basic services and infrastructure.
However, several SDG targets could negatively affect the promotion of basic services and infrastructure through negative inward linkages. For instance, inadequate and inefficient transport systems (11.2), degradation in relevant ecological systems, and unsustainable resource use (12.2) in Ghana are causing a scarcity of resources and fiercer competition among the sectors dependent on these resources. This, in turn, generates a dragging effect on the expansion of basic services and related infrastructure. Addressing these lagged areas could remove the drags and release the potential for making further progress in the provision of basic services and infrastructure in Ghana.
Development of sustainable agriculture systems to strengthen urban–rural linkages: SDG synergies and trade-offs
Agriculture is a critical export sector in Ghana, with cocoa accounting for 25% of its total exports and approximately 20% of global cocoa exports (World Bank 2018). Despite the importance of agriculture as an engine to achieve overall economic growth and recovery, the value-added share of agriculture in GDP has fallen substantially from almost 45% in 1990 to approximately 18% in 2018 (World Bank 2019). These figures reflect the challenges in addressing low productivity dominated by primary production with limited agro-processing and value addition, low governmental support indicated by low governmental expenditure in the agriculture sector (approximately 4% in 2017), and low foreign direct investment of less than 0.1% in 2017 (Government of Ghana 2019; World Bank 2018). These have directly and indirectly affected food security, improved nutrition, urban–rural linkages, and other aspects of sustainable development in Ghana.
SDG Targets 2.3 and 2.a were mapped with the top solution on the promotion of sustainable agriculture systems in Ghana (Table 1). On the basis of the SDG interlinkage analysis, improving agriculture productivity (Target 2.3) and increasing the investment in rural infrastructure and agricultural extension services (Target 2.a) could generate synergies with some social and economic development areas but at the same time have potential trade-offs, specifically with the environment. Figure 12 in Appendix 2 shows the historical trend of the corresponding SDG targets to promote sustainable agriculture systems. On the basis of the historical trend in related interactions, Fig. 6 shows that boosting agriculture productivity and investing in rural infrastructure and extension services contributed positively to eradicating poverty and building the resilience of the poor (Goal 1), reducing hunger and improving nutrition (Goal 2), enhancing economic growth and productivity and creating decent jobs (Goal 8), and the development of resilient infrastructure (Goal 9). However, improving agriculture productivity and increasing the investment in rural infrastructure and extension services would increase chemical inputs (Target 2.4), damage genetic diversity (Target 2.5), and cause problems in public health (Target 3.9), loss of labor productivity (Target 8.5), and ecological degradation, including forests (Target 15.2), mountain ecosystems (Target 15.4), and biodiversity (Target 15.5). Promoting agriculture development in Ghana through productivity improvement and building sustainable and resilience production systems is critical to enhance the ecological resilience of urban–rural linkages.
Several factors related to the development in other SDG areas could affect the effectiveness of promoting sustainable agriculture systems in Ghana, either positively or negatively. The SDG interlinkage analysis presents these factors through inward linkages (Fig. 7). Factors contributing positively to the promotion of sustainable agriculture systems in Ghana include improving equality in education, specifically equal access to all levels of education to all (Target 4.5), reducing gender inequalities (Target 5.5), increasing the aid for trade and ODA for least developed countries (Targets 8.a and 10.b), enhancing economic productivity and resource use efficiency (Targets 8.2 and 8.4), promotion of resilient infrastructure and enhancement in R&D (Targets 9.a and 9.5), improving access to financial services to small and medium-sized enterprises (Target 9.3), and building accountable governance and multi-stakeholder partnerships (Goals 16 and 17). Strengthening these areas will accelerate progress in promoting sustainable agriculture systems. Areas that could negatively affect building sustainable agriculture systems in Ghana include the lack of properly functioning food commodity markets (Target 2.c), insufficient transportation infrastructure (Target 11.2), unsound industrial development regarding the lack of industrial diversification and value addition (Targets 9.2 and 9.b), weak voice from developing countries in decision-making in international economic and financial institutions (Targets 10.6 and 16.8), and ecological degradation in the areas of forests and biodiversity (Targets 15.2, 15.4, and 15.5). Addressing these lagged areas could remove the development drags and release the potential for further development in building sustainable agriculture systems in Ghana.
Promotion of innovative financial systems to boost urban–rural linkages: SDG synergies and trade-offs
The promotion of innovative and inclusive financial systems to enable universal access by providing financial services, such as credits, crop insurance, and channels of money transfer for smooth remittance and cash flow, could enhance people’s involvement in economic and social activities, thus ensuring financial security and economic and political stability (Somanje et al. 2020).
For the interlinkage analysis, four SDG targets are identified corresponding to the promotion of innovative financial inclusion systems in Ghana (Table 1). Three of the four targets have relevant indicators with trackable data (Fig. 13 in Appendix 2). The SDG interlinkage analysis (Fig. 8) shows the synergistic effects of promoting innovative financial inclusion systems by increasing the access of small-scale enterprises to financial services (Target 9.3) and reducing the transaction costs of migrant remittances (Target 10.c) on many social and economic sectors in Ghana. These sectors include poverty eradication (Targets 1.1 and 1.2); boosting agriculture productivity and the investment in rural infrastructure and extension services (Targets 2.3 and 2.a); enhancing economic growth, productivity, and resource efficiency improvement (Targets 8.1, 8.2 and 8.4); formalization and growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (Target 8.3); increasing aid for trade (Target 8.a); and ODA (Target 10.b) to least developed countries. However, promoting access to financial systems, specifically to the agriculture and industrial sectors, must consider the potential negative impacts on the labor market (Target 8.5), industrial value addition (Target 9.2), and the environment through chemical inputs of agriculture development (Target 2.4). Furthermore, financial inclusion systems should be directed to the promotion of investment in the development of relevant transport systems and infrastructure (Target 11.2), which presents as a constraint to the further development in the agriculture and industrial sectors in Ghana.
Certain factors related to the development in other SDG areas could affect the effectiveness of the promotion of innovative financial inclusion systems in Ghana, either positively or negatively (Fig. 9). The influencing factors, through positive inward linkages toward Targets 9.3 and 10.c, include those for enhancing economic productivity and the formalization and growth of small- and medium-sized enterprises (Targets 8.2 and 8.3), strengthening governance (Target 16.3 on the rule of law) and partnership, including mobilizing financial resources and providing other supports to developing countries (Targets 17.3 and 17.9), enhancing international cooperation on access to science and technology (Target 17.6), increasing the experts of developing countries (Targets 17.11 and 17.12), and promotion of public, private, and civil–social partnership (Target 17.17). Strengthening the progress in these areas accelerates progress in promoting innovative financial inclusion systems in Ghana. However, a few areas related to the unemployment rate (Target 8.5), insufficient development of transport infrastructure (Target 11.2), and lack of effective regulation and monitoring of financial markets (Target 10.5) could drag the development in financial inclusion systems. Addressing these lagged areas could release the potential for building innovative financial inclusion systems in Ghana.