Environmental Audit

Many initiatives have been taken with an environmental focus for the AFROSAI-E region. We have had several interventions on environmental auditing in the region and courses, audits, guidelines, working paper templates and training exercises focused on introducing environmental auditing within the region. These interventions are the course in Arusha, Tanzania in 1999, the workshop in Nelspruit, South Africa in 2002 and the course in Nairobi, Kenya in 2004.

Furthermore a guideline relating to compliance auditing of medical waste has been utilised since 2002 in various SAI’s within the region. SAI’s from Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius and South Africa participated during 2005 in an audit looking at solid waste management. Technical update meetings in Durban, South Africa in 2007 and in George, South Africa in 2008 were held where guidelines on Environmental Auditing were developed and/or updated and presented to the participants. In 2009 a regularity audit workshop was held in Johannesburg and working paper templates, and a training exercise related to environmental matters were part of the regularity audit model file and the participant’s notes.

The 2009 guideline is concerned with government entities that may be categorised into three groups; Government entities with the power to make or influence environmental policy formulation and regulation – whether internationally, nationally or locally, Government entities which have the power to monitor and control the environmental actions of others, and Government entities whose operations impact/affect the environment (directly or indirectly), whether that is positive or negative – such as by rehabilitation or (conversely) pollution and utilisation. Specific working paper templates, as well as system description and reliance on control working paper templates have been compiled together with three examples of completed working papers. These examples cover a Provincial Hospital, a Military Air Force Base and a Government garage, whose operations directly or indirectly impact/affect the environment by pollution.

When planning its audit the SAI should consider the risks and materiality of the Government environmental programme or activity, taking account of the resources involved, the importance of the environmental problem to be addressed, and the magnitude of the intended effect.

The skills of the regularity auditors must be utilised and they must be prepared to look beyond auditing financial statement. The AFROSAI-E guidelines, supported by the international audit standards, provides an opportunity for the regularity auditors to move towards non-financial information in a systematic manner.