Image showing half of a forest with the other half showing a freshly mowed lawn.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 interconnected social, economic, environmental and institutional targets to be achieved by 2030 that were agreed upon by all UN member countries in 2015.

Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) are assessing progress made by their governments toward achieving the SDGs. Around the world, SAIs are working in collaborative and innovative ways to examine how effective their governments have been at integrating the SDGs into national development plans and in assessing progress that is being made on issues like climate change, gender equality and poverty reduction.

This report explores how SAIs examine the challenges presented by the SDGs in government decision-making and why their ability to hold governments to account on this ambitious agenda matters.

Governments need to move rapidly and use the SDGs to tackle many pressing problems that are now too urgent to ignore. These include the rising frequency of  destructive climate change-related events, such as extreme weather, flooding and drought, the impacts of increasing natural capital destruction and species extinction. 

They also include interconnected issues of worsening inequality and the growing difficulties for many in earning a living through work that is becoming more precarious and insecure. The defining challenge of the next decade will be building the systems that the SDGs need for delivery.

From the practicalities of achieving SDG-related policy coherence across different parts of government, to validating new data sources and establishing agreed-upon metrics where gaps exist, making delivery a reality requires genuine and ongoing commitment. That’s why the work of SAIs is so important in assessment and evaluation of countries’ preparedness to take on the SDG-related challenges and their progress towards achieving them.