The Role of SAI in Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals – Board of Audit of Japan

The Role of SAI in Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals – Board of Audit of Japan

Board of Audit of Japan

1. Introduction

 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) listed in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are universal goals applicable not only to developing countries but also to developed countries, intending to involve all the relevant stakeholders in the implementation process. In response to these developments, INTOSAI has included in its Strategic Plan its willingness to support member SAIs in auditing SDGs-related government programs. ASOSAI has also discussed what kind of efforts it could make, including how to reflect it in the ASOSAI Strategic Plan, to help member SAIs that intend to support the governments’ implementation of SDGs through their audit.

The Board of Audit of Japan (the Board) welcomes each government’ efforts for sustainable development and INTOSAI’s and ASOSAI’s efforts toward the SDGs, and would like to continue cooperation with each SAI both within INTOSAI and ASOSAI. Regarding the audit work in Japan, the Board has conducted audits in many areas which SDGs have targeted. However, since the Government of Japan proceeds in the coming years with implementation of SDGs-related policies and measures with substantial amount of expenditure, the Board is considering conducting SDGs-specific audits in addition to its current audits. We are well aware that the Board needs to be well-prepared for the future possibility to conduct such audit.

The roles of each government and SAI in implementing SDGs would vary depending on the situation in each country. We would like to explain the preparedness of the Government of Japan and the roles of the Board as follows. We hope it will serve as a reference case when each SAI considers its role in implementation of SDGs.

2. Efforts toward the SDGs of the Government of Japan

The preparedness of the Government of Japan can be explained as follows, using INTOSAI SDG preparedness model.

Step1: Political commitment

Following the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s speech at the UN Summit in September 2015 expressing Japan’s willingness to implement the SDGs, the Government of Japan has demonstrated so far high-level commitment by establishing a Cabinet body, the SDGs Promotion Headquarters, headed by the Prime Minister himself and composed of all ministers on May 2016, in order to ensure a whole-of-government approach to implementing the 2030 Agenda in a comprehensive and effective manner. As Prime Minister stated in a meeting on June 9, 2017, this year’s Basic Policies on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform, a major document of the government that guides its economic and fiscal policies which was adopted shortly after this meeting, has incorporated various measures to further promote the SDGs. At the same meeting, he also asked relevant ministers to accelerate initiatives for the SDGs.

Step 2: Public awareness and participation

To promote public awareness and participation for more effective and inclusive implementation of the SDGs, the government holds regular round table meetings which are attended by NGOs/NPOs, academia, the business community, international organizations and other entities. These meetings are designated to “encourage dialogue and participation of different stakeholders”. Major newspapers regularly report on what SDGs are and how they are relevant to our daily lives, thus contributing to improved awareness of the general public. Discussions on SDGs at the Diet (the Parliament) are occasionally held, reflecting the interest of some of the Diet members although the discussions so far remain to be of general nature.

Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, attend at the UN High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July, 2017, and expressed the determination that by coordinating efforts between private and public sectors, Japan will take concrete actions, both at home and abroad based on the concept of “Public Private Action for Partnership (PPAP).”

Step 3: Allocation of responsibility

A large number of government programs in wide-raging areas on “Japan’s SDGs Implementing Guiding Principles” (hereinafter “Implementing Guiding Principles”) was adopted by the Cabinet in December 2016. The programs are listed together with the responsible ministries and agencies; however, allocation of financial resources among them as well as involvement of other important stakeholders has not been specified in the published documents, which is thought to be left to consideration by the responsible ministries and agencies.

Step 4: Detailed plans

While “Implementing Guiding Principles” represents the government’s basic policy to address the major challenges in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda; its appendix “Specific Measures to Achieve the SDGs” lists more than 160 programs in eight priority areas. Each program is linked to one or more SDGs targets together with indicators for measuring progress. Most of the programs are compilation of smaller measures which are not specified in the appendix. In addition, “Implementing Guiding Principles” include a certain number of overseas measures to support the implementation of SDGs in developing countries including those measures under Official Development Assistance (ODA) program.

Step 5: Measuring and monitoring systems; and Step 6: Setting of baseline

The Headquarters made clear that it will focus on monitoring and reviewing the progress of measures taken in line with the “Japan’s SDGs Implementation Guiding Principles” including adjustments of and addition to the current indicators, based on the monitoring results (follow-up and review). According to the “Implementing Guiding Principles”, in order to appropriately monitor the progress of SDGs-related measures in Japan, the government will make use of the relevant statistical data, Earth Observation Data and other data, while considering introducing concrete indicators which can serve as key performance indicators (KPIs) to the extent possible. The SDGs global indicators will be utilized in these KPIs as much as possible, as well. The progress of the measures listed in the Implementation Guiding Principles will be reviewed based on these indicators.

Step 7: Monitoring and reporting arrangements

According to the “Implementing Guiding Principles,” the government will participate in and contribute to the global follow-up and review process through participation in the HLPF. Japan participated in Voluntary National Reviews of the HLPF in July, 2017 and presented efforts of Japan. The government will consider participating in its subsequent reviews and completing the first round of follow-up and review of the present Implementation Guiding Principles by 2019, looking towards the session of the HLPF to be convened by the President of the General Assembly in the same year. Subsequent to the 2019 HLPF, follow-up and review will be conducted, taking into account the four-year cycle of the HLPF organized by the President of the General Assembly.

3Efforts of the Board related to Audit on SDGs

(1) The Board’s Audits and Audit on SDGs

The SDGs-related measures are included in almost all of the government’s measures, and the Board has conducted its audits on programs that now fall on SDGs-related areas from the objectives of economy, efficiency and effectiveness (3E). Hence, if any improper financial management comes to light in the course of its audits on SDGs-related programs, the Board will present its opinions on the financial management to, or demand appropriate measures with regard to the financial management from, the head of the relevant department or to/from the relevant parties. As such, the Board will be able to contribute to the implementation of SDGs.

(2)  Efforts toward SDGs-related Audit in future

As mentioned, the Board will be able to contribute to implementation of SDGs through its audits on each of SDGs-related programs from the objectives of 3E, but in addition to the audits, the Board considers that in future the Board might need to conduct audits specifically focusing on the government’s efforts toward SDGs, such as audit on the efforts toward SDGs by the SDGs Promotion Headquarters and all of the other related Ministries and Agencies, or crosscutting audit related to multiple Ministries and Agencies on the achievement of SDGs, in response to increased interests in society and progress of the government’s SDGs-related measures.

In order to prepare for such situation, the Board will check the SDGs Promotion Headquarters’ efforts on monitoring of the Implementing Guideline Principle, and follow-up and review of the Implementing Guideline Principle, including establishment and modification of indicators based on the monitoring, as mentioned in 2. Especially, the Board will collect information on how efforts toward the Implementing Guideline Principle are checked, and how each project conducted for measures indicated in its appendix is implemented.

Besides, the Board considers collecting information on the moves in UN or INTOSAI, Diet deliberation in Japan, reporting by media, views of related organizations, scholars etc., and share them with the divisions related to SDGs in the Board.

Based on the collected information, the Board will examine the indicators of each measures listed in the appendix. Then, it will analyze whether there are any issues to be focused for the audit on the achievements of the indicators, and would make decision on whether we should conduct audit focusing on the government’s efforts toward SDGs.

Furthermore, the Board would be able to respond to interest of various stakeholders who are interested in SDGs by publicizing and explaining the results of the Board’s audits on these SDGs-related measures. It is also expected that the fact that the Board is able to contribute to implementation of SDGs through its audit could be conveyed to the general public.

(3) International Cooperation

  1. Contribution to implementation of the Goal 9 in SDGs

The Board has cooperated with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in its training on Government Audit on Public Construction Works that is implemented as one of the Knowledge Co-Creation Program since 2001. It is important to audit by not only verifying the accounting aspects, such as the compliance of the payment of public works to the contractual provisions, but by also reviewing the general adequateness of budget use in all processes throughout the project, including the designing, cost estimation, construction and usage. In this point of view, by providing the Board’s experience and knowledge on audit on public construction works systematically, the program aims to enhance audit capacity of participating SAIs on public construction works, and contribute to improvement of social infrastructure that is necessary for the countries to make further development.

The Board considers that the training can contribute to achievement of the Goal 9 “resilient infrastructure.” Especially, taking into account that the budget for infrastructure in developing countries is expected to increase in future while constructing infrastructure tends to be a hotbed of corruption, the role of SAIs in this area is expected to be more and more important. In addition, infrastructure is expected to be high-quality and resilient to disaster caused by climate change, etc. In this regard, the Board would like to cooperate in implementing the training and contribute to implementation of SDGs.

  1. The Board’s Cooperation to ASOSAI and INTOSAI

The Board, which has been ASOSAI Capacity Development Administrator since 2000, plans ASOSAI capacity development activities based on ASOSAI members’ needs, and will take into account strong needs towards audit on implementation of SDGs for designing and implementing ASOSAI capacity development activities. In 2017, ASOSAI seminar targeting middle-to-senior management of SAIs will be held on the theme “Improvement and Innovation of Audit Process – including Audit on Preparedness of Sustainable Development Goals.” Also, the Board will contribute to enhancement of audit capacity of member SAIs on SDGs by providing administrative support for KSC-IDI cooperative performance audit Programme on Preparedness for Implementation of SDGs.

In addition, the Board will be able to contribute to other SAIs by sharing the Board’s audit results or case studies on SDGs-related programs if the Board is requested to share such information by INTOSAI, ASOSAI etc.

  1. Conclusion

The Board welcomes that ASOSAI and each member SAIs become actively involved in the efforts towards SDGs in response to inclusion of the SDGs in INTOSAI Strategic Plan 2017-2022. In Japan, while the government has prepared Implementing Guiding Principles and established nation-level strategy, the roles of the Board for implementation of SDGs are as follows.

  • Contribution to achievement of the goals of SDGs-related measure through audits on the SDGs-related programs from the objectives of 3E, and audits specifically focusing on the government’s efforts toward SDGs
  • Responding to interest of the general public and various stakeholders on SDGs, and conveying the fact that the Board can contribute to achievement of SDGs through its audit
  • Contribution to the other SAIs through sharing information on audit results and case studies with INTOSAI and ASOSAI as well as through ASOSAI capacity development programs, and contribution to enhancement of audit capacity of SAIs through cooperation with JICA in training on Government Auditing on Public Construction Works

The Government of Japan will promote implementation of SDGs-related programs with huge amount of expenses. Though the Board considers that it would be able to make sufficient contribution to implementation of SDGs through the current audit practice, the Board will make full preparation, assuming that it would conduct audit focusing of SDGs.

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