The First Senior Officials Meeting of the SAI20 Engagement Group under India’s G20 Presidency began today in Guwahati. Girish Chandra Murmu, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India , as the Chair of the Supreme Audit Institutions-20 (SAI20) Engagement Group, led the deliberations.
In his opening address, CAG highlighted that SAI20 Senior Officials Meeting 2023 is a symbol of global cooperation and collective efforts of the Supreme Audit Institutions of the member G20 countries, to ensure inclusive development and wellbeing of all. CAG highlighted that the world was seized of multiple challenges and the most daunting ones being sustainable development and climate change. CAG further stated that climate change and its impact on biodiversity, food security are emerging challenges threatening the sustainable development goals. He highlighted the need for the global community to address these problems to ensure a secure future for all.
While recognizing the importance of sustainability, growth and role of emerging technologies, he informed that the SAI20, priority areas – “Blue Economy” and “Responsible Artificial Intelligence” represents the new-age opportunities and concerns and these underline the need for genuine cooperation, CAG informed that in an effort to understand the global experiences and initiatives and to know how external stakeholders view the role of Audit in these areas, they interacted with many domain experts from government and the private sector and conducted seminars on these themes on last month.
While explaining the criticality of the priority area of Blue Economy, CAG stated that Blue economy is an economic system that encompasses a spectrum of policy and operational dimensions aimed at conserving marine and freshwater environments while promoting their sustainable use, producing food and energy, supporting livelihoods, and acting as a driver for economic advancement and welfare.
CAG emphasized that a successful balance between these two goals must be achieved to ensure sustained growth of the blue economy over time, especially as the Blue Economy could make all the difference to Planet earth and sustenance thereon.
CAG explained that the unplanned and unregulated development in the coastal areas needed to be highlighted in audit and at the same time, Governments had to be shown with evidence the importance of ensuring that the livelihoods of the people living in these areas does not get affected adversely.
While speaking about the second priority area – Responsible Artificial Intelligence(AI), CAG highlighted that democratization of AI technologies is inevitable and AI could be used to benefit citizens and the country through targeted and timely intervention. CAG also highlighted that AI had the potential to solve issues related to areas like Healthcare, retail, finance, agriculture, food, water resources, environment and pollution, education, special needs, transportation, energy, public safety, disaster management, judiciary.
Highlighting the mandate of Supreme Audit Institutions to provide independent and objective examination of public services and serve as the much-needed feedback mechanism for policymakers in identifying the areas for improvements and opportunities, CAG emphasized that Blue Economy and Artificial Intelligence were, both emerging areas, and therefore, Supreme Audit Institutions could not afford to ignore these prominent sectors. CAG further stressed that it was imperative for leading SAIs to start working on an auditing framework and granular checklists so that auditors not only have broad guidelines but also specific toolkits to audit these two sectors in a meaningful way.
CAG also informed that SAI India’s International Centre for Environment Audit and Sustainable Development (ICED), which serves as global training facilities, has been established as a Centre of Excellence for the Blue Economy and the first national training programme will be rolled out at the end of April.
The meeting saw participation of 39 National and International delegates from G20 member SAIs, Guest SAIs and WB as invited organisation. The delegates from G20 member countries, guest countries and other International Organizations also attended the SAI20 event. SAIs of Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Oman, Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Türkiye, and UAE also participated.