Technical Articles

International Journal of Government Auditing – July 2012


Actively Emerging RWGEAs Encourage Environmental Auditing in Regions

The number of SAIs conducting environmental audits has been growing over the years. According to the 7th WGEA environmental survey, conducted by the Secretariat in spring 2012, 80 percent of the respondents reported that they had done environmental audits, and another 15 percent planned to do so in the near future.

Many SAIs have undertaken their first environmental audits in cooperation with other SAIs. Such cooperation has often been initiated by the respective regional Working Group on Environmental Auditing (RWGEA), which organizes training activities and invites SAIs to participate.

The significance of cooperation is underlined by the fact that according to the environmental survey, about 70 percent of responding SAIs had cooperated with another SAI. The lack of resources was the most common reason cited for not cooperating with other SAIs. Almost all SAIs who had cooperated with other SAIs described their experience as useful. They mentioned the possibility of exchanging information and experiences and using good auditing approaches as the main motivations for combining their efforts.

The following reports outline ways in which the RWGEAs have encouraged environmental auditing at the regional level.


First Cooperative Environmental Audits in the PASAI Region

The PASAI Cooperative Performance Audit Program

The Cooperative Performance Audit (CPA) program is conducted under the Pacific Regional Audit Initiative (PRAI), which aims to build capacity in individual SAIs through participation in cooperative performance and financial audits.

Aligned with the broad PRAI objective, the CPA program has a tiered objective: building performance audit capacity within individual SAIs through a regional approach to identify and promote improvements in the effectiveness, efficiency, and economy of public administration within the countries of the Pacific region.

At the 2008 PASAI congress, auditors general decided that the first CPA program should be environmentally focused. This was a very good fit with the WGEA work plan, which aimed to facilitate concurrent, joint, or coordinated audits in each of the INTOSAI regions, including PASAI. It also aligned with INTOSAI’s strategic objective of promoting greater cooperation among SAIs.

Planning

Initial planning work for the CPA program was undertaken between the 2008 and 2009 PASAI congresses. The SAI of New Zealand, in its role as coordinator of the Australian Council of Auditors General (ACAG)/PASAI RWGEA, surveyed PASAI members to identify suitable topics for the CPA program and find out which SAIs would be interested in taking part.

The survey favored solid waste management as the topic for the first cooperative performance audit, with freshwater management a close second and fisheries the third choice. Many SAIs expressed interest in taking part in the program.

Planning for the CPA program relied heavily on the WGEA guidance for conducting cooperative audits to determine the appropriate form of cooperation and the level of support required.

Photo: Auditors observed traditional water collection on North Tabiteuea, one of the outer islands in Kiribati, during the cooperative performance audit on access to safe drinking water.
Auditors observed traditional water collection on North Tabiteuea, one of the outer islands in Kiribati, during the cooperative performance audit on access to safe drinking water.

The CPA program was planned and conducted as a series of coordinated audits—that is, the same audit topic was undertaken in each jurisdiction, with audit teams coming together at the critical planning and report writing points in the audit cycle. Each SAI was expected to report in its own jurisdiction, and a regional report was to be compiled to present to the subsequent PASAI congress and then released more widely to donor organizations, stakeholders in the region, and the general public.

CPA Program Outcomes

The first cooperative performance audit, on solid waste management, was completed in 2010. Ten Pacific SAIs participated: the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Fiji, Guam, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), the Republic of Palau, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu. The consolidated regional report of these audits is now available on the PASAI website: www.pasai.org. Eight individual SAI audit reports are in the public domain and are on the SAIs’ websites.

The second cooperative performance audit, on access to safe drinking water, was completed in 2011.

The third cooperative performance audit, on managing sustainable fisheries, is to be completed in 2012. It was by far the most challenging audit topic to date. Eleven SAIs participated: the Cook Islands, FSM, Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, and the FSM State Audit Office of Yap and new teams from the SAIs of Nauru and the Solomon Islands.


Future Directions

The participants in the ACAG/PASAI RWGEA April 2012 meeting in Sydney concluded that it would be advisable to adopt the coordinated audit approach used by 14 SAIs around the world to audit their governments’ management of climate change. (The report on this audit was released in November 2010.) By adopting this model, Pacific SAIs would cooperate in the design of the regional audit, focusing thereafter on how their individual governments are planning to adapt to climate change and managing natural disaster risks and recovery.

For additional information, contact Jonathan Keate, the regional coordinator of ACAG/PASAI WGEA (jonathan.keate@oag.govt.nz).


Enthusiasm for Cooperative Environmental Audits in the EUROSAI Region

Several cooperative environmental audits are in progress in the EUROSAI region. Three of these projects will be finalized this autumn.

The Cooperative Audit on Adaptation to Climate Change

The partners in this audit are the SAIs of Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, and Ukraine and the European Court of Auditors (ECA). The EUROSAI WGEA Secretariat is the project leader.

The project’s aim is to contribute knowledge to policy makers and other stakeholders on how (1) adaptation policies are implemented on national levels in Europe (2) risk and vulnerability assessments are applied in decision making, and (3) strategies and plans are implemented to prepare for climate change impacts. The cooperative project addresses how coordination of adaptation issues is ensured on a governmental level. The study also evaluates potential results and impacts of the adaptation policies. The cooperative audit will identify European governments’ challenges related to adaptation to climate change and provide common conclusions and recommendations.

For additional information, contact the EUROSAI WGEA Secretariat (herdis.laupsa@riksrevisjonen.no).

The Nordic-Baltic-Polish Cooperative Audit on Emissions Trading

The Nordic-Baltic-Polish Cooperative Audit on Emissions Trading was initiated by the respective auditors general in August 2011. Norway and Denmark are coordinating the audit, and Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Sweden will also contribute to the joint report. The European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) is a key policy instrument to mitigate climate change in Europe and has a large economic significance. All the Nordic countries—with the exception of the Faroe Islands, the Baltic countries, and Poland—are part of the EU ETS. Most of the Nordic-Baltic-Polish SAIs have performed one or more performance audits addressing climate change and emissions trading. The cooperative audit is based on finalized or ongoing individual national audits and includes the following three sub-topics:

  • the effectiveness of the EU ETS in reducing national emissions/fostering technology development;
  • the effectiveness of registry systems for emissions trading—operation, measurement, and reporting; and
  • the efficiency of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI) programs.

The joint report is planned for October/November 2012.

For more information, please contact Kristin Rypdal (Kristin.Rypdal@Riksrevisjonen.no).

Cooperative Audit on Shipment of Waste

The SAIs of Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, and the Netherlands are conducting a cooperative audit on the enforcement of the European Union (EU) Waste Shipment Regulation (EWSR). This audit was launched in 2010 by the Contact Committee of the heads of the EU SAIs. The EWSR has been set up to control international waste movements to prevent illegal shipment or dumping of hazardous waste.

The objective of the audit is to improve the enforcement of the EWSR by providing insight into differences in enforcement strategies and performance in terms of results and the achievement of the intended effects among countries.

The participants agreed upon a common audit approach and a design matrix. They also agreed upon nine audit questions, a set of standards, necessary information, and an indication of the method of data analysis. The standards address good governance, cooperation, enforcement, quality of information, and standards arising from the EWSR.

Photo: SAIs in European Union countries are conducting a cooperative audit on the shipment of waste.
SAIs in European Union countries are conducting a cooperative audit on the shipment of waste.

Besides national reports, a joint report will be published toward the end of 2012.

For additional information, please contact Jan Willem van de Wardt (j.vandewardt@rekenkamer.nl).


Other Regions Encourage Cooperation in Environmental Auditing

ASOSAI

Several SAIs in the ASOSAI region (including China, Indonesia, South Korea, and Malaysia) have knowledge about cooperative environmental audits, but few have actually conducted cooperative environmental audits. Parallel audits seem to be preferred. SAIs have noted challenges related to language and technology that have hindered cooperation.

A number of ASOSAI countries (namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, and Thailand) participated in the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI) Transregional Program on Environmental Issues in Forestry.

Russia and China held a joint seminar on environmental auditing in Russia in September 2010. They discussed a wide range of topics and explored possibilities for cooperative environmental audits.

For additional information, contact the ASOSAI WGEA ( cnao@audit.gov.cn).

OLACEFS

The OLACEFS region stands out for its ability to involve a number of SAIs in auditing vital environmental issues.

Coordinated Performance Audit on Implementing the Commitments of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

In April 2009, the eighth meeting of the Special Technical Commission on the Environment (COMTEMA), the RWGEA of OLACEFS, was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At that meeting, the participants decided to carry out a cooperative audit to examine the compliance of regional governments with commitments related to the UNFCCC. The project involved the SAIs of Argentina, Brazil (coordinator), Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Panamá, Paraguay, and Peru.

To support the national audits, an audit approach framework was developed that was similar to the one adopted in the INTOSAI WGEA coordinated international audit. Each SAI designed, carried out, and domestically reported national audits, in accordance with its internal practices and standards, to respond to its country’s climate change priorities. The topics covered governance of climate change efforts, elaboration and communication of greenhouse gas inventories, and elaboration and implementation of mitigation and adaptation policies.

The preliminary report reflected the different analytical perspectives and approaches of the audit teams of the SAIs involved. These differences were also evident at the final meeting to discuss the coordinated audit. Thus, even with the commitment of the participants, it was a challenge to achieve a homogeneous and cohesive report.

Coordinated Performance Audit on Environmental Management to Conserve Natural Resources in the Amazon Region

The participating SAIs were Brazil, Colombia (coordinator), Ecuador, and Peru.

The participating SAIs derived the audit criteria from the Amazon Cooperation Treaty, and the audit partners decided to distribute the research topics among themselves:

  • Ecuador: Protection of indigenous people
  • Peru: Fulfilment of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty
  • Brazil: Macro-zoning
  • Colombia: Protected Areas and Ecotourism

For additional information, contact the OLACEFS WGEA (relacionesinstitucionales@agn.gov.ar).

AFROSAI

The SAI of Tanzania, regional coordinator of the AFROSAI RWGEA, has called upon SAIs of the region to undertake coordinated audits to address regional issues, such as waste management, deforestation, water management, and protection of nature.

The ongoing regional audits in the AFROSAI region focus on analyzing the environmental problems of common water bodies. The coordinated audit of Lake Victoria is a joint effort of East African countries (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi), and the joint report is due in 2012. Experience gained in the audit of the Lake Victoria basin will be used in an audit on Lake Chad headed by the SAI of Chad, which will be implemented by the AFROSAI Technical Capacity Building Committee.

For additional information, contact Robert Cheyo at the AFROSAI WGEA ( rcheyo@nao.go.tz).