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Auditors had a look at the key international Slovak commitments in UN Agenda 2030

Bratislava 21st December, 2018 – The Supreme Audit Office of the Slovak Republic (SAO SR) has assessed whether our country is ready to meet the UN goals 2030 for sustainable development (SDGs). Slovakia has not defined its national goals, its financial envelope for practical implementation, nor the national indicators that have been set up for three years since the adoption of this key agenda, neither how to continually measure their achievement. On the other hand, the auditors perceive positively that in June 2018 the Government of the Slovak Republic approved six priority areas of sustainable development in Slovakia by 2030, but the national targets were not defined. The national targets must then build on indicators that serve the competent institutions to measure progress and achieved commitments. These were to be drafted by May 31st, 2018, but the Government shifted the deadline to April 30th, 2019 until the Vision and Development Strategy of the Slovak Republic by 2030 will be put together. Coordination of the sustainable development agenda in the Slovak Republic was charged to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for Investment and Information Technology (ODPMIIT). The Statistical Office of the SR is the coordinator in the field of indicators and monitoring.

The SAO SR points out that the process of setting a national sustainable development strategy is of a key strategic decision. Fragmented limited financial and material resources over a number of areas does not have to be effective. It is desirable to end the national vision process in the shortest possible time so the process of implementing the steps towards its fulfillment can be started. The SAO SR considers it necessary to point out that the individual Ministries should not only remain in general declarations, but must define tangible steps, measures in co-operation with the ODPMIIT and Statistical Office. In Slovakia, there are over 300 sectorial and cross-sectorial strategies that are partial, often not interconnected and non-complementary. They are not adequately monitored and often lack measurable indicators, which SAO SR considers to be a non-transparent and ill-conceived approach.

The goals of Agenda 2030 are complex; it is not just stopping the devastation of the planet, eliminating extreme poverty and hunger, but also creating democratic institutions, good governance, or respect for human rights. Each country adjusts the choice of objectives to focus as much as possible on their own needs and sustainable development. Agenda 2030 is not legally binding, but its respect is a natural duty of advanced states, to which Slovakia undoubtedly belongs. To meet key sustainable objectives, it is often necessary to intervene in several sectorial and cross-cutting policies. Therefore, it is essential to apply a governmental approach where intensive inter-agency cooperation is necessary.

UN agenda 2030 represents a historic opportunity for Slovakia to define relevant long-term national targets by 2030, and to set the sub-objectives of the sectorial strategies. This is important to determine the amount of financial resources needed, because if it is not determined what we want to do, it cannot be quantified how much it will cost. Decisions on long-term national targets must be based on relevant, verifiable and comparable data, and the principle of value for money must be respected in achieving the objectives. The SAO SR repeatedly identifies shortcomings in the monitoring the strategic documents in public policy audits and one of the decisive steps is the creation of a system of measurable national indicators. In April 2019, the Slovak Republic will have only 11 years to fulfill the Agenda 2030 goals, so the SAO SR draws attention to the need for active coordination guaranteeing that national targets will be developed by 30 April 2019. At the same time, they will be assigned national indicators for which the Statistical Office of the SR is responsible. The auditors have repeatedly emphasized that the existence of quality indicators is important for the targeted, effective implementation of individual sustainable strategies.

The SAO SR is of the opinion that for the successful, sustainable long-term development of the Slovak society, it is essential that the legislative and executive power, the public administration, as well as the academic community, civic organizations and also the wider lay public would identify not only with the proposed national strategic objectives. The SAO SR therefore recommended that the ODPMIIT should develop a communication strategy for all target groups. The commitment of all stakeholders is important for the successful long-term development of Slovakia. During the audit, the SAO SR also cooperated with the Supreme Audit Office of the Czech Republic. The SAO SR will monitor the entire process of implementing the national sustainable development objectives of Slovakia by 2030. The follow-up audit in this area is planned for 2020.