The first Senior Officials Meeting of the Supreme Audit Institutions-20 (SAI20) Engagement Group under India's G20 Presidency began today in Guwahati. Girish Chandra Murmu, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, chaired the meeting, leading the deliberations.
In his opening address, CAG Murmu emphasized that the 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. He noted that the world was facing multiple challenges, with sustainable development and climate change being the most daunting ones. CAG Murmu further stated that climate change and its impact on biodiversity, food security, and emerging challenges threatened sustainable development goals, and the global community needed to address these problems to ensure a secure future for all.
CAG Murmu highlighted that the SAI20's priority areas, "Blue Economy" and "Responsible Artificial Intelligence," represent new-age opportunities and concerns that underline the need for genuine cooperation. He informed that, in an effort to understand 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 the government and private sectors and conducted seminars on these themes last month.
CAG Murmu explained the criticality of the priority area of Blue Economy, stating that it 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. He 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 Murmu explained that unplanned and unregulated development in coastal areas needed to be highlighted in the 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 do not get adversely affected.
Speaking about the second priority area, Responsible Artificial Intelligence(AI), CAG Murmu highlighted that the democratization of AI technologies is inevitable and that AI could be used to benefit citizens and the country through targeted and timely intervention. He also emphasized 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, etc.
CAG Murmu emphasized 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 areas for improvements and opportunities. He stressed that Blue Economy and Artificial Intelligence were both emerging areas, and therefore, Supreme Audit Institutions could not afford to ignore these prominent sectors. CAG Murmu 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 Murmu 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 program will be rolled out at the end of April.
The meeting saw the participation of 39 national and international delegates from G20 member SAIs, Guest SAIs, and WB as an invited organization. Delegates from G20 member countries, guest countries.
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