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Oversight Tips

August 24, 2023
Questions PACs Should Ask Their Legislative Auditor About the UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda is intended to provide a blueprint for peace and prosperity and sets out 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to address global challenges and meet the 2030 Agenda.

Oversight Tips – Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Both legislative audit offices and elected officials serving on oversight committees can play a key role in holding their governments accountable for their preparedness, plans and actions to implement the SDGs.

Legislative auditors can do this by carrying out performance audits of the government’s progress in implementing the SDGs or conducting audits that have a focus on an SDG related subject (e.g., poverty reduction, gender equality, education, water and sanitation, agriculture, energy). In fact, in 2016 members of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) agreed that the SAI community should play an important role in monitoring progress in the implementation of the SDGs and INTOSAI has made follow-up on the SDGs one of its strategic priorities.

Public accounts committees (PACs) play an important role in ensuring that the findings and recommendations contained in the legislative auditor’s reports are being implemented. They can ensure that the government is held accountable for implementing the SDGs and is tracking its progress toward implementation.

As a first step, PACs should find out if their government has signed the UN declaration on the SDGs – or in the case of sub-national governments, whether their jurisdiction is coordinating actions with the national government. There are also a number of questions PACs can ask their legislative auditor about the SDGs, which can include:

Oversight Tip 1

What is the extent of your knowledge and understanding of the SDGs?

Oversight Tip 2

Have you completed any audits on the government’s preparedness, actions taken and/or progress in implementing the SDGs or meeting the 2030 Agenda?

Oversight Tip 3

Does your current audit plan contain any proposed audits on the SDGs?

Oversight Tip 4

Have you incorporated any of the SDGs as one of the criteria into a broader audit, current or planned?

Oversight Tip 5

Can you provide a roadmap of how your recent audits can contribute to a better understanding of the government’s implementation of SDGs or meeting the 2030 Agenda?

Oversight Tip 6

Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the government’s progress in meeting the 2030 Agenda?

Oversight Tip 7

What is your audit office doing itself to contribute to meeting the SDGs?


CAAF has produced a Practice Guide to Auditing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Gender Equality and offers a course on Auditing the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

You can find more information on the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs here: https://sdgs.un.org/goals

Access the 2022 status report on implementation of the SDGs here: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2022/

For an example of an audit related to SDGs see the Office of the Auditor General of Canada’s 2018 report: https://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/att__e_43001.html

You may also find the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s self-assessment toolkit helpful in understanding how parliaments can evaluate their readiness to engage on the SDGs. Access the toolkit here: https://www.ipu.org/resources/publications/toolkits/2017-01/parliaments-and-sustainable-development-goals-self-assessment-toolkit


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