The audit, carried out by the Palestine Audit and Administrative Control Bureau, reveals a “strong” SDG commitment from the Palestinian government, but notes the need to strengthen communication with stakeholders and improve public awareness of the Goals.
The audit report was released in June 2018, ahead of Palestine’s presentation of its voluntary national review (VNR) at the HLPF in July 2018.
April 2019: Palestine’s State Audit and Administrative Control Bureau conducted a review of the Palestinian government’s preparedness to implement the SDGs by 2030. The audit was carried out in the context of Sharaka, a cooperative programme implemented by the Netherlands Court of Audit and several supreme audit institutions (SAIs) from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The audit was conducted in 2017 and the report titled, ‘Review of the Palestinian Government Preparedness for the Sustainable Development Goals,’ was released in June 2018, ahead of Palestine’s presentation of its first voluntary national review (VNR) during the July 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).
At the institutional level, the report cites the establishment of a national team to coordinate and follow up on SDG implementation, and consideration of the SDGs in Palestine’s national policy agenda – the “reference document” for priorities and policies. Per the report, at the time of the audit, the national policy agenda did not include specific information about financial means necessary to implement the SDGs.
The audit found a “strong” SDG commitment from the Palestinian government, and noted that 17 working groups composed of governmental and non-governmental actors had been established, one for each SDG. However, the report also notes a lack of communication channels between the government and civil society regarding the SDGs, and a lack of effort from the Palestinian government to raise public awareness of the Goals. The report says that no structural program has been put in place to communicate the Goals through media or other communication tools.
On monitoring implementation, the report indicates that a working team on the SDGs was formed within the Central Bureau of Statistics to lead the coordination and localization of SDG indicators. It adds that at the time of the audit, the Bureau had prepared a preliminary plan on SDG indicators, established a database of available indicators and sources of data, and reviewed indicators for sectoral plans in terms of their availability and accuracy.
On SDG reporting, the Ministry of Local Government set a reporting framework for SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), the report says, and the VNR report involved the participation of almost 500 institutions from the government, civil society institutions and the private sector. SDG 11 was one of the Goals reviewed in depth during the 2018 HLPF.
In line with the observations resulting from the audit, the report recommends to, inter alia:
- Develop public awareness initiatives on the SDGs, including all age groups and geographical areas, and set communication channels on the Goals with civil society organizations;
- Include representatives of civil society and the private sector in the national team to coordinate and follow-up on SDG implementation;
- Ensure availability of financial resources for SDG implementation;
- Prepare annual reports to monitor progress; and
- Ensure coordination between strategic plans at the local level and the national policy agenda, and the development of “proper and complete” indicators for all sectoral and cross-sectoral plans.
According to the report, the audit was based on the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions’ (INTOSAI) seven-step model for reviewing governmental SDG preparedness. INTOSAI, an umbrella organization for the external government audit community, has also proposed four approaches to SDG audits and reviews, namely: 1) assessing the preparedness of national governments to implement the SDGs; 2) undertaking performance audits in the context of the SDGs; 3) contributing to the implementation of SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions); and 4) promoting the use of transparency and accountability in SAIs’ own operations.
Other SAI SDG initiatives have also been undertaken by Argentina, the Czech Republic, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru. Information on these initiatives is included on the INTOSAI website. [Publication: Review of the Palestinian Government Preparedness for the Sustainable Development Goals Final Report] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Sharaka programme]