Department of Economic and Social Affairs Public Institutions

Supreme Audit Institutions' experts reflect on SDG audits at the 2019 Supreme Audit Institution Leadership and Stakeholder Meeting




Supreme audit institutions (SAIs) are an integral part of country-based follow up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda resolved to strengthen national control mechanisms, such as supreme audit institutions and other independent oversight institutions. The General Assembly through its resolutions A/66/209, A/69/228, and A/69/237 acknowledged the role of SAIs in promoting an efficient and accountable public administration conducive to the implementation of development priorities and the SDGs. It encouraged Member States and relevant United Nations institutions to continue their cooperation with the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI).


INTOSAI operates as an umbrella organisation for the external government audit community. It has special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). INTOSAI provides an institutionalised framework for SAIs to promote knowledge development and transfer, improve government auditing worldwide and enhance professional capacities, standing and influence of member SAIs in their countries.


INTOSAI’s Strategic Plan 2017-2022 identifies supporting and contributing to the follow-up and review of the SDGs as a cross-cutting priority. UNDESA/DPIDG is cooperating with INTOSAI to support SAIs’ engagement with the SDGs.


Auditing the Sustainable Development Goals


The INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI), in collaboration with INTOSAI’s Knowledge Sharing Committee (KSC), UNDESA/DPIDG and other partners, launched a programme on Auditing the Sustainable Development Goals in 2016. The programme (delivered in English, French, Spanish and Arabic) has supported SAIs to conduct cooperative performance audits of preparedness for implementation of the SDGs in their national contexts. Over 70 SAIs and one sub-national audit institution, from all regions, participate in the programme.


Guidance on how to audit SDG preparedness was developed as part of the programme. The audit model is aligned with the voluntary guidelines for preparation of the Voluntary National Reviews to the High Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development. SAIs will continue to receive guidance and support as they move into conducting performance audits of SDG implementation in 2019. 


The initiative has convened annual meetings of SAIs’ leadership and stakeholders to foster substantive discussions and knowledge-sharing on SAI contributions to the SDGs. Participants take stock of SAI engagement with the SDGs and share the emerging findings and lessons learned from the SDG audits.


Materials from the meetings

Joint UN-IDI meeting 2017, Report

Joint UN-IDI meeting 2018, Report

Joint UN-IDI meeting 2019, Report



Supreme Audit Institutions and Budget Credibility

The credibility of government budgets – determined by the ability of a government to meet its revenue and expenditure targets during a financial year - is essential for effective, transparent and accountable institutions. DPIDG is collaborating with the International Budget Partnership (IBP) to support supreme audit institutions in conducting analyses of the credibility of government budgets through external audits. This collaboration aims to produce a handbook on how SAIs can inform analyses of budget credibility through their audit work. 


See the concept note for this initiative (English, French and Spanish).


Virtual Event: How can external audits promote budget credibility? Leveraging the role of supreme audit institutions (25 March 2021) 



The UN/INTOSAI seminars are organised by the General Secretariat. The technical programme is designed by the General Secretariat in cooperation with the United Nations.

At the inter-regional level, 25 seminars on government auditing were organized under the auspices of the United Nations.

Proceedings and report of the 25th UN/INTOSAI Symposium

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the General Secretariat of INTOSAI are pleased to announce the publication of the proceedings and report of the 25th UN/INTOSAI Symposium. They contain valuable insights on SAIs' approaches to tackling the challenges imposed by the pandemic as well as lessons learned for the future. The proceedings can be accessed here and the narrative report here

Reports for all previous symposiums


UN Resources
Find UN materials (publications, presentations, and other materials) relevant to external auditing and the SDGs.   


Audit Reports on the SDGs