The international seminar “The Role of the Supreme Audit Institutions in Implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” was held on Friday, November 24, in Asunción, Paraguay. The event provided a forum for citizen debate with the participation of representatives from regional SAIs and from the United Nations and the European Union.

The event was organized by the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic of Paraguay and supported by the European Union’s representation in Paraguay. It was an arena for discussion on the coordinated audits in preparation for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in Latin America – SDG 2 “Zero Hunger” and SDG 5 “Gender Equality” – as well as the challenges posed by SDGs and the role of Supreme Audit Institutions in the 2030 Agenda. The opening was presided over by Ambassador Paolo Berizzi of the Delegation of the European Union in Paraguay and Comptroller General of the Republic of Paraguay José Enrique García.

Presentations were given by renowned international experts, including Dr. Aranzazú Guillan Montero, Senior Official of the United Nations Office for Economic and Social Affairs; Osvaldo Rudloff, Head of the International Cooperation and Relations Unit of the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic of Chile; and Mr. Carlos Lustosa, Director of the Environment Department of the Court of Auditors of the Union of Brazil.

When asked about the impact of SDGs on Supreme Audit Institutions and where it puts SAIs vis-à-vis society, Carlos Lustosa felt the agenda was about integration and indivisibility. Governments have to change the way they act, the interaction between policies and action needs to be understood because a lot of activities interfere with others and can impact positively or negatively. We are looking, he said, to foster an integrated approach to governance.

Aranzazú Guillán, meanwhile, considered that Latin American countries in general were the main drivers of the 2030 Agenda, and indeed were playing a very active role in the negotiating process and intergovernmental discussions that lead to approval. As such these countries are very committed to the implementation process with countries in the region being innovative in terms of practices and preparation for fostering the sustainable development of societies in the region.

She also mentioned that the United Nations, through a number of General Assembly resolutions, has recognized the role of oversight entities and the fundamental contribution they can make to public administration and more effective and efficient institutional systems, as well as the help they can provide for SDGs.

Helen Connefrey, representative of the European Union, highlighted the openness of countries in the region and mentioned the priority goals her agency has been working on with Paraguay. She explained that her program has been running in the country for around seven years and has developed a number of key areas with priorities that include education, social protection and the private sector.

She noted that in Paraguay a very strong initiative had been taken in creating an institutional commission that includes the Judiciary and the Executive Branch, and as such there were state institutions trying to improve coordination amongst all the other public sector institutions to ensure planning and produce results that feed and respond to the 17 SDGs.

The seminar was held in the framework of the results consolidation meeting for the Special Technical Commission on the Environment’s Coordinated Audit on SDG 2, zero hunger. The commission, COMTEMA, is part of the Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Supreme Audit Institutions, OLACEFS, whose presidency is currently held by the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic of Paraguay.

The 2030 Agenda

In September 2015, more than 150 heads of state and government met at the historic Sustainable Development Summit where they adopted the 2030 Agenda. This agenda has 17 goals which are universally applicable. As of January 1, 2016, these objectives have guided the efforts of countries to achieve a sustainable world by the 2030.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the successors of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and seek to expand on the success of the latter and achieve goals that were not previously met.