In 2007 the National Audit Office broke through to the international level: at the XIX congress of INTOSAI, an organisation uniting the national audit offices of the world, held in Mexico the Estonian National Audit Office took over from Canada the management of INTOSAI’s Working Group on Environmental Auditing that operates under the aegis of the UN. The candidature of the Estonian National Audit Office for the presidency of the working group was strongly supported by the United States, Austria, Canada, Norway and Great Britain.
The Working Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA) was established in 1992. The working group comprises the supreme audit institutions of over 70 countries and it is the largest working group of the world organisation of nearly 200 members.
In essence the work and responsibility which Estonia has been entrusted with among national audit offices can be compared to holding the presidency in the European Union. The difference lies in the fact that among national audit offices presidencies are divided by areas and Estonia took over the global promotion of environmental audits. Thus, while Estonia contributes to ensuring international security via NATO with the help of its troops and to cyber defence with the help of its IT specialists, the National Audit Office contributes to environmental audits of the world and to raising awareness of environmental issues.
The goal of WGEA is to promote environmental audits in the member states as well as in countries that are not members of the WGEA. The work of the WGEA is led by a Steering Committee that comprises 18 audit institutions.
The Secretariat of INTOSAI WGEA is managed by Tõnis Saar, the Director of the Estonian National Audit Office. In addition to him the Secretariat has two senior advisors: Kaire Kesküla and Tuuli Rasso.
Work plan of INTOSAI WGEA
For the period of 2011-2013, the WGEA work plan foresees initiation and implementation of following projects:
- research project on land use and land management practices (led by Morocco):
- research project on the topic of environmental data (led by Canada and USA);
- research project on environment and sustainability reporting (led by Finland);
- research project on environmental issues associated with infrastructure (led by United Kingdom);
- research project on the impact of tourism on wildlife (led by Lesotho);
- an update of the 2004 guidance material on auditing water issues (led by USA);
- guidance material on integrating fraud and corruption issues into environmental auditing practice (led by Norway);
- training modules on the topics of auditing forestry and mining (led by Indonesia and Tanzania);
- provision of a global training facility on environmental auditing (in cooperation with India);
- conduction of the WGEA’s seventh survey on environmental auditing and annual collection of environmental audits.
Duties of the Secretariat of INTOSAI WGEA
- To coordinate implementation of the work plan and ensure regular updating of the plan.
- To represent INTOSAI WGEA at the international level in sustainable development discussions (INTOSAI Congress, World Summit, Millennium Report, etc.).
- To organise the working meetings of INTOSAI WGEA and prepare their working materials (incl. the agenda), minutes.
- To get an overview of the environmental audits of the member states and to analyse the development trends of the methodology in cooperation with the environmental audit team of the National Audit Office.
- To modify and comment on the materials and reports of draft work plans in cooperation with the environmental audit team of the National Audit Office.
- To organise editing the project reports of INTOSAI WGEA in English and translation of the materials submitted to INTOSAI into the five official working languages (English, French, German, Spanish and Arabic).
- To administer the database of environmental audits.
- To administer and develop WGEA’s website http://www.environmental-auditing.org.
- To edit and disseminate the electronic newsletter Greenlines.
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