On September 7, 2017, a conference entitled “Towards achieving SDGs-2030 Agenda” was organized at the General Audit Office of Argentina (AGN), where commitment and challenges to achieving SDGs were assessed by prominent figures in the field.
Panelists included the Deputy Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers, Mario Quintana; the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Argentina (SNUA) and representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), René Mauricio Valdés; and the Director of the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC), Jorge Todesca.
Auditor Jesús Rodríguez, President of the Technical Commission on Good Governance Practices, started the conference, making reference to “the three processes that have characterized the evolution of global issues in recent decades – economic globalization, political democratization and social inequality – which implicitly underlie SDG objectives.” Attendees packed the hall, as was the case in the Salón de las Columnas where many other interested employees had gathered to follow the meeting via streaming. Rodríguez went on to say that the commitment of Argentina, together with 192 other countries, was an opportunity to systematically address the challenge of understanding the “masterful coordination” of economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.
Meanwhile Mario Quintana commented on the importance of the General Audit Office’s proposal for a forum for discussion and dialogue on a matter as important as the United Nations plan of action for all humanity.
Argentina is one of 193 countries to have signed the UN proposal, and the Deputy Chief of Cabinet said that from the first day they had treated it not as a formality, but as a beacon around which priority initiatives of the national government could be aligned to comply with the 17 goals set by SDGs. With regards to the world situation, he felt that although in terms of absolute poverty humanity is making real progress, there are still too many people living at levels of indignity and that this is the primary urgent challenge. On the climate change agenda he said that if we do not review our models for growth and accumulation, in a few generations we will be facing a real disaster.
Quintana explained that the Office of the Chief of Cabinet is ensuring that all ministries include criteria put forward by SDGs in their action plans, adding that the challenge was to make the transformations Argentine society is demanding, sustainable.
Similarly, René Valdés, acknowledged that in Argentina the agenda is generating enormous interest and enthusiasm in many sectors.“We have had the opportunity of meeting with the private, trade union, and cultural sectors, universities and faith-based organizations, and we see that they are doing a very interesting job,” he said. At the end of his presentation, the UNDP representative noted that the agenda also raised issues such as effective and transparent public institutions, and he called for consolidation, adding that it was not possible to advance in this regard in countries in continuous conflict.
Jorge Todesca meanwhile explained that in March of this year the Statistical Commission approved the global action plan and that “INDEC participates in the group whose mission it will be to re-boost the development of indicators internationally.” In relation to SDGs, he said they had undertaken to be collaborative in the construction of international statistical design, and particularly in orchestrating SDGs.
President of the AGN Oscar Lamberto closed the meeting, referring to the process as “a challenge” and speaking of the need to adapt in order to to be useful in terms of assessing SDGs. “We have people trained internationally, the political resolution and the institutional obligation,” he said. Lamberto concluded his presentation by noting that a new phase had begun, namely the link with the auditee, because, critically, auditing is also a collaborative task. “We are here to create a better state, and that requires working together. I am convinced that oversight is beneficial if people take it into their hands and decisions are made, which is why SDGs will be present in all aspects of auditing.”