Ms. Maria Francesca Spatolisano Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs

Opening Statement
SAI Leadership and Stakeholder Workshop
“Supreme Audit Institutions making a difference:
Auditing the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals”

Members of the Board of the INTOSAI Development Institute,
Heads of supreme audits institutions,
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues,

I am most pleased to address the opening of this important workshop on “supreme audits institutions making a difference: auditing the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals”.

This event is the third in a series that began in July 2017, almost two years ago to the day. Seeing so many representatives of supreme audit institutions from all regions here today, bears witness to the active engagement of the SAI community with the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

I also convey my deepest appreciation to our partner in organizing this meeting, the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI). Building on INTOSAI’s commitment to engage with the SDGs over the long term, during the past three years, IDI has worked tirelessly to support SAIs in all regions to conduct audits of government preparedness to implement the SDGs. This has been a significant accomplishment. It was a privilege for us in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs to collaborate on this programme and benefit from its insights.

Excellencies,

Supreme audit institutions are uniquely positioned. They can promote effective public governance, enhance the efficiency of public administration, help improve development outcomes and promote trust in government – all key ingredients for the success of the 2030 Agenda.

Indeed, the SAI community is a key actor in the broader community of practice that has developed around the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda. Hence, for us, this meeting is more than a gathering of the SAI community; it is a forum that connects auditors and the international development community, under the framework of the SDGs. As the first four years of implementation have shown us, establishing and sustaining dialogue among all relevant actors in this field will be critical to assess progress made, to adjust course when necessary, and to mobilize national institutions and stakeholders.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In 2017 and 2018, you shared your experiences in conducting audits of SDG preparedness. I understand that the lessons from this exercise have been synthesized in a report that will be presented later today. The lessons have also been shared by heads of supreme audit institutions who spoke at the High-level Political Forum a few days ago. It will be important to continue to disseminate the lessons from these audits, especially at the national level, where they can help governments to adjust institutional arrangements, resources and monitoring frameworks to implement the SDGs. I also encourage you to share the lessons you learned regarding the technical aspects of SDG audits with other actors in the evaluation field – government agencies, think tanks, academia, and others – in order to enhance our collective knowledge of these issues.

Distinguished Colleagues,

I know that several Supreme Audit Institutions around the world have already started to audit the implementation of specific SDGs and targets, and many more are planning to do so in the coming years. I understand that the second day of this meeting will be dedicated to an exchange of views on how this can be done, and how individual SAIs can be supported in conducting such audits.

I want to emphasize the importance of SDG audits, and the added value that they can bring to the table. They have the potential to shed light on successes and limitations of government action on specific SDG targets, as seen from a whole-of-government perspective. Undoubtedly, in some countries other actors will undertake similar analyses as part of their work– whether academia or government agencies. However, the scope to cover (potentially, 169 targets under 17 goals) is so vast that there is little risk of duplication.

Supreme Audit Institutions, because of their mandates, have access to a wide range of sources that individual government agencies are not in a position to draw upon. In addition, evaluations and assessments in general will follow a wide range of methodologies. In fact, the SAI in a given country can conduct audits of different targets using the same generic methodology. This will bring to the table a level of comparability that will be very useful in assessing progress on the whole set of SDGs.

This is why the work on SDG audit models that is currently ongoing is very important. If this work can empower SAIs in all regions and enable their leadership to conduct SDG audits, it will have achieved a major success. I hope that the discussions tomorrow will inform the further development of SDG audit models and result in more SAIs being willing to conduct such audits in the future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Supreme audit institutions have a critical role to play in building more robust implementation, follow-up and review systems for the SDGs. Only 11 years remain until the end date for the 2030 Agenda. All governments urgently need assessments of what they have been doing, and audits conducted by supreme audit institutions – focusing on compliance as well as on performance – can be part of this information flow.
The SAI community can have a real impact on the decisions that are made with respect to the 2030 Agenda. The Department of Economic and Social Affairs stands ready to help and support you in this regard.

I wish you a fruitful meeting.

Thank you very much.

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