21st session of UN-INTOSAI Symposium
Remarks by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General of The 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development
13 July 2011, Vienna
Mr. Terence Nombembe [Chairman of the Governing Board of INTOSAI and Auditor General of South Africa],
Mr. Joseph Moser [President of the Court of Audit of Austria and Secretary General of INTOSAI],
Mr. Wolfgang Waldner [Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affair of Austria],
Mr. Anders Johnson [Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union],
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to attend the UN/INTOSAI Symposium.
I am told that I am the first Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs to attend the Symposium.
For several years, I have been trying to join you and share my thoughts. I have profound respect for supreme audit institutions (SAIs) and for the work you do.
You help make our world a better one, cleaner, healthier and stronger.
So, I wish to start by thanking INTOSAI for collaborating with the United Nations and for working with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in convening this 21st UN-INTOSAI Symposium.
Our two organizations have had a long history of collaboration.
It is a collaboration that has yielded concrete benefits for our Member States, by enhancing public awareness of the role and contributions of supreme audit institutions and by disseminating the message of clean government, accountability and anti-corruption.
While we celebrate our achievements, we are also keenly aware that we can, and should do more.
Amid continuing waves of globalization, our world is undergoing historic change.
Right now, humanity stands at a crossroads.
Some signs point in the right direction. Growth in a number of developing countries has contributed to poverty reductions. Thanks to social development, we have also witnessed improved child health and education, including for girls. Before the global financial crisis, the world was largely on track to meet the MDGs by 2015. Given political will, we can redouble our efforts and we can be back on track to achieving the MDGs, as shown at the MDG Summit last September.
Yet, other signs point in the wrong direction. Our ecosystems are under unprecedented stresses. Recently, a new report on the world’s oceans found that accelerated environmental changes are causing much more serious damage than previously thought. We see food, oil and other commodity prices at historic highs. More and more countries are water stressed.
These crises are interlinked. Our dependence on fossil fuels worsens climate change, which in turn is threatening food production, leading to social unrest.
How can we tackle these inter-linked crises? How does this have to do with INTOSAI?
The answer is simple – Everything!
It has everything to do with INTOSAI, its members and your work.
Supreme audit institutions play a major role in auditing government accounts and operations and in promoting sound financial management and overall accountability.
You promote good governance by enhancing transparency, accountability, by fighting corruption and by fostering the efficient and effective use of public resources for the benefit of the public.
All of this work contributes to strengthening the three pillars of sustainable development.
The simple truth is – without good governance, sustainable development will not be sustained.
I come before you today to appeal to you – join us in our shared pursuit of global sustainable development – an environmentally sustainable, socially just, equitable and economically prosperous world.
It is time we re-energize and reinforce our collaboration toward this goal.
It is time we bring our historic partnership to new heights.
We are ready to open a new Chapter in our collaboration.
Our discussions at this Symposium will focus on how supreme audit institutions can promote citizen engagement in accountability and how we can communicate the very relevant work of these institutions to the public.
The United Nations is ready to help disseminate your role and your tremendous contributions.
In doing so, we are highlighting our shared messages on accountability, anti-corruption and good governance.
During the three days of this 21st Symposium, I hope we will manage to identify ways in which our future cooperation can promote these shared objectives.
In this context, I would like to elaborate on anti-corruption.
Corruption continues to be endemic in many countries, developed and developing. This is not a developing world problem. As well as morally apprehensible, corruption affects overall economic performance, damages people’s trust in public institutions and threatens the Rule of Law.
From a development perspective, corruption undermines the allocation of resources, leads to wastes and adds to business costs.
It weakens the institutional foundation on which sustainable development depends.
Sadly, corruption hurts the poor more, who already bear the brunt of economic decline, are more dependent on the provision of public services, and are least capable of paying the extra costs associated with all forms of corruption.
Clearly, good governance must start with and end with fight against corruption.
For several years, I have told my UN colleagues – public administration must accord priority attention to fighting corruption.
There will be no efficient and effective public administration so long as the scourge of corruption continues to poison public services to citizens. Only by fostering accountability, transparency and anti-corruption can we create an enabling environment to achieve the vision of sustainable development.
At my request, DESA has undertaken several initiatives.
The Department is actively engaged with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), based here in Vienna, in implementing the provisions of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
Through our Division of Public Administration and Development Management, DESA and UNODC have created a new category within the United Nations Public Service Awards. This award acknowledges those practices pursued by public administration to prevent and fight corruption.
Three weeks ago in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, the UN recognized innovative practices in this category for the first time, at the UN Public Service Awards. Local governments and public institutions in Egypt, Mexico, Oman, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia and South Africa won the awards. The awards were given to initiatives that are considered both effective and replicable in other countries in fighting corruption, in areas such as transparent public procurement, transparent recruitment of civil servants and fair elections.
Also, together with UNODC, we have initiated capacity-building activities, such as training workshops and expert group meetings, to improve public sector institutions, enhance accountability and prevent corruption.
We are ready to broaden and deepen our collaboration with INTOSAI and its members in this area. We need your expertise in audit and your knowledge of accountability.
In this regard, allow me to raise one question – how can this biennial forum be used to advance sustainable development by sharing lessons learned and best practices in strengthening public institutions, including audit institutions? How can we use this Symposium and other collaborative activities, including capacity building activities, in order to help Member States attain the best possible performance in public administration, and thereby serve the needs of all people?
I hope this 21st session of UN-INTOSAI Symposium will provide us with concrete ideas for action and for the way forward.
On our side, I have instructed DESA and its Division for Public Administration and Development Management to start building up our capacity in accountability, good governance and anti-corruption, working in conjunction with UNODC and INTOSAI.
Together, we can do more than we can do alone.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before I conclude, I want to bring to your attention the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20.
Rio+20 will focus on two themes, a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development, which is the UN speak for governance for sus
Good governance at all levels is essential for sustainable development.
There is a lot INTOSAI and its members can do in support of good governance for sustainable development.
Member States are looking at various options to strengthen institutions for sustainable development at the national, regional and international levels.
In my capacity as the Secretary-General of Rio+20, I invite you to examine this theme, assess gaps and obstacles and put forward your proposals for action and solutions.
Let INTOSAI and its members be our partner in our journey toward sustainable development.
Rio+20 is about tomorrow, about the future. And sustainable development should be our common future.
History has given all of us an opportunity to make a difference. You can contribute, by helping Member States build better institutions for sustainable development.
Let us do it, together, in partnership.
I thank you.