(Tassilo Droste zu Huelshoff) - The National Audit Chamber of Sudan hosted a conference on
“The role of oversight bodies in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” on 22 May 2017 in Khartoum. The objective was to create awareness of government on the essential role that oversight bodies will play in monitoring and controlling the progress of achieving the SDGs by 2030. The meeting allowed Sudanese parliamentarians, state auditors and government officials to exchange experiences on SDG implementation with high-ranking experts from Cameroon, Germany, the Netherlands and UNDP. This unique approach was hailed by the African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI) as “the first of its kind”. AFROSAI considers emulating this example in other countries, in order to support the oversight of the implementation of the SDGs. The Good Financial Governance (GFG) in Africa programme, funded by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) as well as the European Union (EU), supported the conference.
Prof Ibrahim Ahmed Oumar, Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Jean-Michel Dumond, Ambassador of the EU to Sudan, and the Auditor General, Mr Eltahir Malik opened the conference. In his opening statement, EU Ambassador Dumond noted that “The Sustainable Development Goals are universal by nature: the Agenda 2030 applies to all countries in the world. […] We have a joint responsibility to achieve the SDGs, to protect global public goods and to eradicate famine and fight poverty.” Around 80 participants including members of the National Assembly, the National Population Council and from various ministries of the Sudan were present. They exchanged their views and experiences with Dr Guenther Bachmann, Secretary General of the German Council for Sustainable Development, Mr Gijs de Vries from the London School of Economics and Political Science, Mr Francis Bekemen of the General Secretariat of AFROSAI, and Mr. Abdel Rahman Ghandour from UNDP.
According to GFG in Africa Programme Manager, Dr Barbara Dutzler, the SDGs require a shift of paradigm in the way government policies are developed and implemented. In her presentation she highlighted that each country has to develop its own unique approach and vision to achieve sustainable development. She explained that governments across the world will have to adopt sector-wide approaches and open up to stakeholders to ensure development is inclusive and sustainable. The National Audit Chamber of Sudan has the important function to hold the government accountable for achieving the SDGs and making sure that all Sudanese benefit from effectively managed public finances. In this endeavor the National Audit Chamber will have to closely cooperate with parliament to ensure follow-up of recommendations.
Participants emphasised the critical role that good governance will play in reaching the SDGs. AFROSAI demonstrated that Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) can contribute to the SDGs in different ways, one of them being to assess the performance of SDG related programmes. SAIs can also assess whether government has set up the necessary structures to ensure successful implementation. This includes looking at the existence of monitoring mechanisms and the availability of reliable data. By auditing the way public finances are managed auditors contribute to SDG 16 which relates to transparent and efficient institutions. Last but not least, SAIs need to lead by example and report on their own performance.
The conference was a first step towards achieving greater awareness on the challenges in the realisation of the SDGs. The National Audit Chamber and GIZ will now explore the possibilities of jointly addressing the challenges to promote sustainable development in Sudan. This development falls amid the expansion of GIZ’s activities in Sudan, which was concluded in May during the trilateral government consultations of the Governments of Germany and the Sudan as well as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Khartoum.