This edition of Greenlines celebrates our success in implementing the INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA) work plan for 2002-04. Members involved in the implementation have worked hard to carry out the projects of the plan.
The 2002-04 work plan for the WGEA was approved at XVII INCOSAI in Seoul, Korea, October 2001. The defined priorities of the 2002–04 work plan include:
The SAI of Canada assumed the role of Chair of the WGEA and head of its Secretariat in October 2001. Mrs. Sheila Fraser, Auditor General of Canada, is the Chair, and Ms. Johanne Gélinas, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Canada, is the Associate Chair.
Auditor General of Canada
Chair of the WGEA
Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development
Associate Chair of the WGEA
The WGEA started out with 12 countries and has since grown to a membership of more than 50, making it the largest INTOSAI working group. Regional working groups on environmental auditing are in place in six of the seven INTOSAI regions (CAROSAI region does not have a regional working group). Here are the chairs of the regional working groups on environmental auditing:
ASOSAI – China – Mr. Li Jinhua, Auditor General
AFROSAI-E – South Africa - Mr. Shauket A. Fakie, Auditor-General
EUROSAI – Poland – Mr. Mirosław Sekuła, President
SPASAI – New Zealand – Mr. Kevin Brady, Controller and Auditor-General
ARABOSAI – Egypt – Dr. Mohammed Gawdat Ahmet El-Malt, President
OLACEFS – Brazil – Mr. Valmir Campelo, President
A Steering Committee to the WGEA was formed in 2002. The Steering Committee focusses on managing the ongoing activities and products of the WGEA and makes recommendations to the full WGEA Assembly as required. The Steering Committee has met on three occasions since then and has largely contributed to the implementation of the 2002-04 work plan and the drafting of the new plan for 2005-07.
The Steering Committee met three times during the past three years. The United Kingdom National Audit Office hosted the WGEA Steering Committee’s inaugural meeting in June 2002. The Comptroller General’s Office of Costa Rica hosted the second meeting in January 2003. The Contraloria General de la Republica of Peru hosted the third meeting in February 2004. These meetings were vital in advancing the work of the WGEA.
|First Steering Committee Meeting
London, United Kingdom, 8-9 April 2002
|Participants at the
First Steering Committee meeting
|Welcome Reception: Chris Shapcott, United Kingdom; Abdulman Eric Harid, Zimbabwe; John Reed, Canada; Gareth Ellis, New Zealand.|
|Second Steering Committee Meeting
Heredia, Costa Rica, 13-15 January 2003
|Participants at the
Second Steering Committee meeting
|Press conference with Mr. Pacheco de la Espriella, President de la Republica of Costa Rica.|
|Third Steering Committee Meeting
Lima, Peru, 2-4 February 2004
|Participants at the
Third Steering Committee meeting
|Welcome remarks by Mr. Genaro Matute Meija, Contralor General de la Republica of Peru.|
The 8th Meeting of the INTOSAI WGEA was hosted by the Supreme Chamber of Control of Poland in June 2003 in Warsaw. The meeting included for the first time a two-day seminar/workshop on environmental auditing, concentrating on the themes of Waste Management, Water Management, and Sustainable Development. More than twenty presentations on audit experiences were made by SAIs. The meeting benefited from keynote presentations by representatives of the United Nations Environment Program and the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development. The very good evaluation of the first WGEA interactive workshops encourages us to continue on this path. Here are some of the participants’ comments:
“The content is extremely well prepared and conveyed with skill and thoughtfulness to participate.”
“The Global Perspective session was greatly helpful to get information on the global state of the environment and the World Summit on Sustainable Development.”
“The workshops are a unique chance to talk and discuss with colleagues all over the world.”
|Eighth meeting of the WGEA General Assembly
Warsaw, Poland, 23-28 June 2003
|Participants at the
Eighth meeting of the WGEA General Assembly
|Interactive workshop: Teyib Ali Mohammed, Ethiopia; Steven Elstein, United States; Malgorzata Romanowicz, Poland; Rob de Bakker, Netherlands.|
The 8th meeting also included two days of business matters, including approval of working group documents. About 75 people from the WGEA and regional working groups from more than 35 countries attended the meeting.
The 9th Meeting of the INTOSAI WGEA was held May 31–June 3, 2004 in Brasilia, Brazil, hosted by the Tribunal de Contas da União (TCU) of Brazil. It was the most-attended WGEA meeting ever, with more than 120 participants from 50 countries. This meeting too featured a seminar/workshop portion and a business portion. The seminar portion included presentations by SAIs and interactive small group discussions on topics related to biodiversity; regularity auditing; concurrent, joint, and co-ordinated audits; and meeting new challenges.
The following is an excerpt of questions raised by participants to be discussed during small group discussions.
"How can a SAI overcome inadequate funds and resources or a lack of expertise in environment?" Swaziland
"When do you start an environmental audit? Is it when the environmental program is fully implemented?" Qatar
"How do you verify the quality of data received during an environmental audit? How do you deal with the absence of information?" The Netherlands"
After the group discussions, participants shared lessons learned. As the following quotations indicate, the learning experience was diversified.
“I learned that we can perform environmental audit even if we don’t have a mandate for performance auditing. We can do it by financial audit and regularity audit. It is very important for our future audits.”
“I learned from my colleagues from Peru and Paraguay that the NASA offers satellite photos for free. I also learned how the Paraguay SAI has used satellite photos (excellent evidence!) to document gradual and illegal deforestation in protected areas.”
“Auditors do not really need to be experts in technical fields to do environmental audits. They can seek the help of experts.”
“When organizing a concurrent audit: make out a contract with the other partners. …by making out a contract every partner knows exactly when, what and how to deliver.”
“The presentation on biodiversity brought home the urgency and need for the human species to protect every other species on the planet to make his own habitat sustainable.”
|Ninth Meeting of the WGEA General Assembly
Brasilia, Brazil, 30 May-2 June 2004
|Participants at the Ninth Meeting of the WGEA General Assembly.|
|Workshop at the Ninth Meeting of the Working Group on Environmental Auditing||WGEA Business Meeting|
The business portion of the meeting focussed on discussing and approving the proposed 2005–07 work plan and the communication plan associated with it. This work plan will be presented for approval and adoption at the XVIII INCOSAIcongress in Budapest, Hungary, October 2004. Proposed products and services for this period include:
The 9th Meeting was held in conjunction with the International Conference on Environmental Auditing, hosted and organized by the Brazilian Tribunal de Contas da União. The conference, which attracted more than 400 participants, was opened by the President of Brazil Mr. Luis Inacia Lula Da Silva. The event proved to be a very informative event. Mr. Gabriel Azevedo, Co-ordinator of Sustainable Development and Social Development, World Bank; Prof. Ignacy Sachs, an imminent researcher; and Ms. Marina da Silva, Minister of the Environment of Brazil, were among the keynote speakers.
The WGEA secretariat organized a session for the International Conference on “ SAIs approaches to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).” The speakers presented different and useful ways to audit issues related to the WSSD.
|International Conference on Environmental Auditing, session on
"SAIs approaches to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)"
Brasilia, Brazil, 3 June 2004
|Speakers: John Reed, Canada; Ewa Borkowska-Domańska, Poland; Marcus Popplewell, United Kingdom; Knut Aarhus, Norway; Shahzado Shaikh, Pakistan; and Peter McVay, Australia.|
The Brazilian SAI published a special edition of the TCU Journal in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, including presentations made at the conference. The issue contains 14 articles on environmental auditing to improve the actions on ecological protection. The conference papers will be available on the TCU Web site at www.tcu.gov.br.
The WGEA has recently finalized two papers.
The WGEA General Assembly unanimously recommended at its 8 th Meeting in Poland that these papers be proposed as formal INTOSAI documents. Both papers are currently available on the Working Group’s Web Site in all INTOSAI languages. The INTOSAI Governing Board concurred with our plan to have these papers adopted at the XVIII INCOSAI in Budapest, Hungary, October 2004.
These papers have been translated, with the support of SAI members, into the five INTOSAI languages and circulated among the full INTOSAI membership, in accordance with INTOSAI procedures. Appropriate changes were introduced and the translations finalized.
Two other papers that support environmental audit work by SAIs have been approved as working group documents but will not be presented as formal INTOSAI documents. Both papers are currently available in English in final format on the WGEA’s Web site. Some WGEA members agreed at the 8th Meeting to translate these papers for regional distribution. The translated documents will be posted on the Web site as they are complete.
The WGEA and the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI) worked together to develop and deliver a two-week training course on environmental auditing for SAIs. This takes advantage of the WGEA subject-matter expertise and the IDI’s expertise in training course design and delivery.
The first pilot course Environmental Auditing Workshop was successfully delivered in Antalya, Turkey, November 3–17, 2003, hosted by the SAI of Turkey. A total of 29 participants from 15 SAIs in the ASOSAI region attended the course, which nine IDI training specialists and three subject matter experts facilitated. The course was a great success based on participant evaluations, the quality of the outputs produced by the students, and the general observations of instructors and subject-matter experts. The overall architecture and teaching methods worked well.
|IDI/WGEA Training - First pilot workshop
Antalya, Turkey, 3-17 November 2003
The second pilot was delivered in Nairobi, Kenya, February 16–27, 2004, hosted by the SAI of Kenya. A total of 30 participants from 19 countries attended the course—including 27 participants from AFROSAI, 2 from SPASAI, and 1 from ASOSAI. The course was facilitated by a team of six IDI training specialists and two subject-matter experts. This second pilot was as successful as the first one.
|IDI/WGEA Training - Second pilot workshop
Nairobi, Kenya, 16-27 February 2004
The OLACEFS region and the IDI have translated the course material in Spanish. The first workshop will be delivered in Bogotá, Colombia, from 29 November to 10 December 2004 for the OLACEFS members from South Africa. Another one is planned, 11-22 April 2005 for Central America SAIs. Consult the IDI Web site for more information on these workshops.
The Chair and Secretariat have been active in improving networking and information sharing among SAIs.
The WGEA Web site was completely redesigned in 2003 and launched on May 13, 2003.
The Secretariat prepared an information stand (kiosk) for the next INCOSAI meeting in Budapest and for other events organized by the WGEA. The Chair, Sheila Fraser, will host a special reception for auditor generals (AGs) on the topic of environmental auditing during the week. The following AGs have accepted to present a brief remark:
Dr. Genaro Matute Mejía, Comptroller General of the Republic of Peru
Mr. Mirosław Sekuła, President of the Supreme Chamber of Control of Poland
Mr. Sarath Chandrasiri Mayadunne, Auditor General of Sri Lanka
Mr. Shauket A. Fakie, Auditor General of the Republic of South Africa
Mr. Liu Jiayi, Deputy Auditor General of the National Audit Office of the People’s Republic of China
Almost 100 participants have confirmed their attendance for this promising event, which will be a great opportunity for AGs to share experience in the field of auditing environmental and sustainable development issues.
INTOSAI International Journal of Government Accounting. The General Accounting Office (GAO) of the United States and the SAI of Canada (on behalf of the WGEA) agreed to make environmental auditing one of the central themes in the International Journal of Government Auditing. The special Journal edition was published in the spring of 2004, with contributions from Mr. Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program and more than 15 SAIs.
The survey was sent to all INTOSAI members in June 2003. We received responses from 114 countries. The results of the survey were used to develop the WGEA work plan for 2005–07. The full report is available in English, and the Executive Summary has been translated into the five INTOSAI languages. Some of the key findings include the following:
This continues to be a priority for many SAIs in the environmental field and for the WGEA in the 2005-07 period. SAIs from Europe in particular have been collaborating in the audit of international environmental accords and ecosystems. In order to facilitate such audits in the future, the SAI of United Kingdom, the WGEA Secretariat, and the Steering Committee have prepared a simple template to capture future audit plans in the area of environmental protection and sustainable development. This information will allow SAIs to be aware of planned audits by other SAIs, with a view to identifying shared interests.
Following the 8th WGEA meeting in Poland in June 2003, the Chair received correspondence from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) inviting collaboration in a number of areas.
In March 2004, a representative of the WGEA Secretariat attended a capacity-building workshop organized by the UNEP Global Environment Outlook (GEO) in Geneva, Switzerland. After the meeting, both organizations discussed future collaboration in the following areas:
In addition, the Chair has made informal inquiries with international financial institutions (such as the World Bank) about the possibility of financial assistance for WGEA activities. There are encouraging signs.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) was held in August 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa. This was a major gathering of countries around the world intended to develop global consensus on concrete actions needed to implement sustainable development. The Steering Committee entrusted the Chair to represent and increase the profile of the WGEA at the World Summit. Four Canadians attended together with representatives from the SAIs of China, Norway, and South Africa, and members of the AFROSAI–E working group on environmental auditing.
During the summit, representatives from the attending SAIs spread awareness about the INTOSAI WGEA and the role of SAIs in conducting environmental audits. Key events included the following:
The 2002–2004 period has been a busy one for the WGEA and the SAI of Canada. The WGEA work plan has been successfully implemented, thanks to the support and hard work of many SAIs. It seems that the work of the WGEA is of great interest and value to SAIs, and the future appears promising. We look forward to working with our many colleagues in the working group and the steering committee to implement the 2005–2007 work plan.
Greenlines is the electronic news bulletin of the INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing.
The International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) is the professional organization of supreme audit institutions (SAI) in countries that belong to the United Nations or its specialized agencies. INTOSAI was founded in 1953 and has grown from the original 34 countries to a membership of over 180 SAIs.
Secretary General Vivi Niemenmaa
Email: vivi.niemenmaa (at) vtv.fi
Deputy Secretary General Tiina Väänänen (on parental leave)
Email: tiina.vaananen (at) vtv.fi
International Affairs Planner India Roland
Email: india.roland (at) vtv.fi
Trainee Simon Hämäläinen
Email: simon.hamalainen (at) vtv.fi
Trainee Meeri Tarvainen
Email: meeri.tarvainen (at) vtv.fi