Promoting environmental auditing

Saturday, 2018-09-22 12:11:03
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The environmental issue is currently the number one global challenge.
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NDO – As the host country of the 14th Assembly of the Asian Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI 14), the State Audit Office of Vietnam (SAV) proposed the congress theme of “Environmental Audit for Sustainable Development” and received a high consensus from all of the 46 members. It is quite justifiable as the environmental issue is currently the number one global challenge, requiring the joint efforts of all nations.

Environmental auditing is not strange in modern industrial countries but relatively new for developing countries, including Vietnam. Up to now, the SAV has not yet built a team of professional environmental auditors, so the contents of environmental audits are mainly integrated in annual audits. From 2016, environmental auditing has been accelerated with the implementation of a series of audits related to the environment, such as the audit on state management over mineral resources in the period of 2014-2016 in some ministries and localities; the audit on management, exploitation, and investment in infrastructure construction and industrial parks associated with environmental protection in Hau Giang province; the audit on solutions of using ordinary plastic bags in Ho Chi Minh City; and the audit on environmental management in Bac Ninh province’s industrial parks. Notably, in its audit plan for 2019, which was recently submitted to the National Assembly Standing Committee, the SAV has embraced the topic of auditing the management of scrap imports into Vietnam.

Vietnam currently ranks fifth out of the 10 countries most severely affected by climate change. Natural disasters in Vietnam have become increasingly dangerous and unpredictable over recent years, with huge damage reported, but the sense of environmental protection for sustainable development in the awareness and action of the whole society remains somewhat limited. In the first six months of 2018, the import value of scrap into Vietnam was nearly equal to the value recorded in 2017, with an average monthly import value of nearly US$200 million. According to the inspection results, many batches of imports are classified as garbage in developed countries, such as used machinery, used equipment, and old batteries. In the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Vietnam continues to attract huge inflows of foreign investment, so if preventive measures are not taken, Vietnam will be at risk of becoming a “landfill” for the world.

In addition to the door-guarding task of functional ministries, the involvement of the SAV in environmental protection proves to be an urgent need. The early and effective implementation of environmental audits will help Vietnam anticipate the level of impacts of projects on the environment in order to prevent further harm. Environmental audits will provide an overview of the environmental management and protection situation across the country, which will help the National Assembly and Government to issue timely and appropriate policies and legislative documents.

In order to enhance the efficiency of environmental audits, the SAV sees ASOSAI 14 as an opportunity to gain experience and cooperate with members in the field of environment auditing, and to improve the capabilities of the SAV in such a new profession, thereby making the SAV become one of the active elements in environmental protection. In order to protect the environment, it is necessary to strengthen the social responsibility of units, organisations and individuals in the economy, especially enterprises. The units’ internal auditors should also pay attention to the results of environmental audits, such as providing consultations for unit leaders to apply proper measures to realise the SAV’s proposals, and proposing the Board of Directors to organise environmental audits.