CSE releases pan-Africa study report on environmental audit systems

Environmental regulators from 15 African countries participate in release-cum-orientation programme

Dar es Salam (Tanzania), January 25, 2024: Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a global think tank based in New Delhi, India released a pan-Africa assessment report on existing environmental audit systems in African countries here today. The report was released at a workshop and training programme, and was attended by officials of environmental regulatory authorities from 15 African countries.

An environmental audit is a series of activities undertaken with respect to the operations of a facility or an organisation to evaluate its environmental performance. It is not a one-time step but an ongoing activity that aims to identify and correct environmental issues that arise during the operation of a project and improve operating and environmental conditions in industries.

Speaking at the event, Nivit Yadav, Programme Director, Industrial Pollution, CSE, said: “A thorough environmental audit allows industries to analyse the ambiguities in the implementation of management plans and take corrective measures. It also helps industries improve the process efficiency by optimising the usage of resources and increasing production, leading to monetary benefits.”

On the regulatory front, a comprehensive audit report can be helpful as it assesses the compliance status of the industry and understands its environmental performance. Comparing data of two to three years can ascertain whether the performance of an industry is improving or declining, adds Yadav.

While preparing this assessment report, CSE reviewed legislation and environmental audit reports from eight countries. The laws and legislations were reviewed to understand the applicability and detailing expected to be provided in the audit report; a review of the audit reports was done to evaluate the actual implementation of the legislations on the ground and to identify the gaps.

The assessment notes that the information provided in the audit reports of most of the reviewed countries contains insufficient data. Says Yadav: “Most of the reviewed audit report provided detailed information about industry manufacturing process, but lacks basic data like the production capacity, energy and water consumption and quantity of wastewater and solid waste generated. None of the reports reviewed have historical data. Historical data represents data of industry’s operation for the last two-three years. This data helps in analysing whether the performance of the industry has improved or deteriorated and also helps to understand the effectiveness of proposed measures by the developer in previous audits. With the absence of the data, the whole audit process becomes ineffective.”

The assessment also points at weak enforcement from regulators in many cases where water-polluting industries are being allowed to operate without adequate treatment facilities.

Key recommendations

CSE has proposed a few amendments on the regulatory front to help in strengthening the whole audit system.

  1. Develop an eligibility criteria for environmental audit: Currently, non-polluting industries are also undergoing audits – this is not required. The countries need to develop an eligibility criteria for industries for audits.
  2. Create and enforce sector-specific guidelines: Countries should consider developing sector-specific guidelines detailing all the requirements needed in the audit report for a particular type of industry. It will set a boundary for an auditor and will result in precise audit reports.
  3. Invest in capacity building programmes: The review of audit reports indicates there is clear a lack of understanding among auditors in terms of information required in the report. In order to get good quality reports, regular capacity building is required for both developers and auditors to make them aware about the benefits of comprehensive audits. Additionally, training programmes for reviewers should also be conducted to enhance their understanding on aspects to be reviewed in the report.

Speaking at the event, Dr Menan Jangu, Director, National Environment Management Council (NEMC), Tanzania, said: “Apart from being of immense use for project proponents and experts in conducting audits, this report would also be useful for the regulatory bodies to review submitted audit reports.”

To know more about the report, please contact:

Nivit Kumar Yadav,
Email: nivit@cseindia.org,
Mobile: +91 11 99680 23535


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