The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
In 2015, the United States and 192 other members of the United Nations (UN) signed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which seeks to address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are 17 SDGs and 169 targets that address global challenges, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. The 17 SDGs are integrated—they recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development includes a balance of social, economic and environmental sustainability. As of June 2022, the United States has made available a repository of SDG indicator data.
Audit Work and the SDGs
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development noted that governments have responsibility to follow-up and review the progress made in implementing the SDGs and targets at national, regional and global levels.
The 197 members of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), including the U.S. GAO, play an important role in reviewing progress toward the SDGs, as reflected in the INTOSAI Strategic Plan. One of INTOSAI’s Strategic Priorities is to contribute to the follow-up and review of the SDGs within the context of each nation’s specific sustainable development efforts and SAIs’ individual mandates.
Through audits and consistent with its mandates and priorities, the U.S. GAO conducts work that can help U.S. policymakers understand progress, monitor implementation, and identify improvement opportunities across the full set of the SDGs and the nation’s development efforts. Although the U.S. GAO has not been asked to conduct audits specifically focused on the status of SDG implementation, the agency has issued reports that are relevant to all 17 SDGs across a broad range of government programs.
In fiscal year 2021, GAO issued a variety of products relevant to all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In total, GAO issued 383 products relevant to UN SDGs, representing 68% (383 of 563) of the total products issued that year.
Examples in the table below are taken from our review of products that were relevant to SDGs. Note that GAO products may pertain to multiple SDGs.
UN Sustainable Development Goal and Examples of Related GAO Work
Source: GAO analysis; United Nations (icons).