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Biodiversity is a growing concern within the international community—the loss of different species of animals, plants, and micro-organisms is accelerating. Life on Earth depends on nature. Humans need the diversity of nature for important services, such as food and water resources. Nature is also a source of economic opportunities. Protecting biodiversity is in everybody’s interest because its loss could eventually lead to the

  • Extinction of species,
  • Loss of genetic diversity,
  • The global spread of common plants and animals, and
  • Major changes in the way the ecosystems—which are essential to humans (for example, pharmaceutical products, food, timber and air and water purification)—function.

In recent years, biodiversity has been one of the most frequently audited subjects among Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs). Many SAIs intend to conduct audits of biodiversity in the future. For this reason, the WGEA established biodiversity as the central theme for its work in 2005-2007.

In addition to developing a guidance document about auditing biodiversity issues, the WGEA decided to make information on biodiversity accessible to all INTOSAI members and the general public. This homepage describes how to audit biodiversity issues and may be a useful starting point for SAIs that are planning audits in this area. 

Comments, suggestions and material related to biodiversity and audits on biodiversity can be sent to:
Elaine Ferreira Souza Dantas (SAI of Brazil)
Carolle Mathieu (SAI of Canada)
INTOSAI WGEA Secretariat
The Audit Board of the Republic of Indonesia (BPK RI)
Gedung Baru Lantai 5
Jl. Gatot Subroto No 31 Jakarta 10210
Phone: +62 21 57854098
Fax : +62 21 57953198
The INTOSAI WGEA would like to thank the SAIs of Brazil and Canada for their efforts developing this web page.


How to audit biodiversity issues?

Biodiversity is a broad and diverse subject area, selecting an audit topic can be challenging for SAIs. Once the topic has been selected, it may be difficult to know where to start, because there are many factors to consider

    • Scopes (for example genetics, species, and ecosystems)
    • Threats (for example habitat loss, pollution, and urbanization), and
    • Government responses to these threats (for example, international conventions, national parks, and environmental impact assessments).

The document Auditing Biodiversity: Guidance for Supreme Audit Institutions is an indispensable resource for audit practitioners, describing

    • What biodiversity means and its scope,
    • Why it is important,
    • What threatens it, and
    • How can biodiversity be protected.


The following four-step process gives an approach for choosing and designing audits of biodiversity 

Further information and useful case studies can be found in the guidance document Auditing Biodiversity: Guidance for Supreme Audit Institutions available in four different languages.


International agreements

Since many environmental issues do not respect national borders,  they require the concerted action of many countries working together.  Various bilateral, regional and international environmental agreements (IEAs) have been developed to conserve natural heritage. SAIs can play a major role by auditing how these agreements are carried out and reminding governments of their obligations under them.


To learn more about international conventions and treaties in general, see the following WGEA publication

The Division of Environmental Law and Conventions (DELC) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) undertakes activities to support the implementation of international accords for biodiversity protection:
Regional Biodiversity Agreements
Regional environmental agreements are also signed by countries to deal with more specifics concerns. More information about them is found below.
International Environmental Agreements
The main international environmental agreements related to biodiversity are described below. All of the information provided was taken from the websites indicated: 
    • Convention on Biological Diversity
    • The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
Climate Change
    • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
    • The Kyoto Protocol
Endangered species
    • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
    • United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
    • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
    • Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (also known as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands)
    • International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments
    • Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)
    • World Heritage Convention (WHC)
    • International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)
    • Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement (SPS)
    • Millennium Development Goals
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was the first international agreement to address all aspects of biodiversity. It was also the first to address the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. It entered into force on 29 December 1993. It has 3 main objectives:
1.      The conservation of biological diversity
2.      The sustainable use of its components
3.      The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources.
National biodiversity strategies and action plans as well as progress reporting are some of the key features of the Convention. You can have access to these documents for any countries on the CBD Web site.
In 2002, the Conference of the Parties of the CBD adopted a strategic plan “to achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level, as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth.” Parties (countries) to the convention committed to achieving the 2010 Biodiversity Target.
The Strategic Plan encourages parties and other actors to review their activities, especially their national biodiversity strategies and action plans. The Conference of the Parties adopted a framework with specific focal areas, goals, and targets for assessing progress towards the 2010 Biodiversity Target. These goals and targets could be a source of criteria for auditors.
Thematic Programmes and Cross-Cutting Issues of CBD:
The Conference of the Parties (COP) has established seven thematic programmes of work which correspond to some of the major biomes on the planet. Each programme establishes a vision for, and basic principles to guide future work. They also set out key issues for consideration, identify potential outputs, and suggest a timetable and means for achieving these. They are:
    • Agricultural Biodiversity
    • Dry and Sub-humid Lands Biodiversity
    • Forest Biodiversity
    • Inland Waters Biodiversity
    • Island Biodiversity
    • Marine and Coastal Biodiversity
    • Mountain Biodiversity
The COP has also initiated work on key matters of relevance to all thematic areas. These cross-cutting issues correspond to the issues addressed in the Convention's substantive provisions in Articles 6-20, and provide bridges and links between the thematic programmes. Some of them are: 
    • Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit-sharing
    • Biodiversity for Development
    • Climate Change and Biodiversity
    • Impact Assessment
    • Protected Areas
    • Sustainable Use of Biodiversity
More information about CBD programmes can be found at:
On 29 January 2000, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a supplementary agreement to the Convention known as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The Protocol seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. It establishes an advanced informed agreement (AIA) procedure for ensuring that countries are provided with the information necessary to make informed decisions before agreeing to the import of such organisms into their territory.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement that aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Roughly 5,000 species of animals and 28,000 species of plants are protected through the convention against over-exploitation through international trade. They are listed in three Appendices. Species are grouped in the Appendices according to the degree of protection they need.
The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (also known as CMS or Bonn Convention) aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. Since the Convention's entry into force, its membership has grown steadily to include 112 (as of 1 August 2009) Parties from Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
This international convention provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

Negotiated through the 1960s by countries and non-governmental organizations that were concerned at the increasing loss and degradation of wetland habitat for migratory waterbirds, the treaty was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975. It is the only global environmental treaty that deals with a particular ecosystem, and the Convention's member countries cover all geographic regions of the planet.
Each signatory to the Ramsar convention is obliged to select at least one wetland site for inclusion in the “List of Wetlands of International Importance”, in accordance with the Criteria for Identifying Wetlands of International Importance set out in the convention.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.
UNESCO's World Heritage mission is to:
    • encourage countries to sign the World Heritage Convention and to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage;
    • encourage States Parties to the Convention to nominate sites within their national territory for inclusion on the World Heritage List;
    • encourage States Parties to establish management plans and set up reporting systems on the state of conservation of their World Heritage sites;
    • help States Parties safeguard World Heritage properties by providing technical assistance and professional training;
    • provide emergency assistance for World Heritage sites in immediate danger;
    • support States Parties' public awareness-building activities for World Heritage conservation;
    • encourage participation of the local population in the preservation of their cultural and natural heritage;
    • encourage international cooperation in the conservation of our world's cultural and natural heritage.
To date, close to 900 properties have been selected for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List based on their cultural and/or natural heritage values.
There are several marine conventions that address marine pollution. This is the first agreement that deals specifically with harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens contained in ship ballast water and sediments. The Convention seeks to prevent, minimize and eliminate the transfer of organisms and pathogens into the marine environment from these sources. Management and control requirements for ships as well as standards are set out in the Annexes to the Convention. Parties to the Convention should ensure that ballast water management practices do not cause greater harm than they prevent to their environment, human health, property or resources, or those of other States. Parties are also given the right to take more stringent measures, consistent with international law. .
This convention was adopted in 2004 but has not yet entered into force.
Social and economic issues, including food security and political stability are closely linked to land degradation and drought. So are environmental concerns, such as climate change, loss of biodiversity and reduced freshwater supplies. The objective of this Convention is to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa.
The Convention is being implemented through action programs. At the national level, they address the underlying causes of desertification and drought and identify measures to prevent and reverse it. National programs are complemented by subregional and regional programmes.
The Convention entered into force in 1996. More than 190 countries are parties to the Convention.
Biodiversity and climate change are closely linked, and each impacts upon the other: biodiversity is threatened by human-induced climate change, but the growth of biodiversity resources can reduce the impacts of climate change on population and ecosystems.
The Framework Convention on Climate Change establishes an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change. It recognizes that the climate system is a shared resource whose stability can be affected by industrial and other emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The Convention enjoys near universal membership, with 192 countries having ratified.
Under the Convention, parties:
    • gather and share information on greenhouse gas emissions, national policies and best practices
    • launch national strategies for addressing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to expected impacts, including the provision of financial and technological support to developing countries 
    • cooperate in preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate change
The Convention entered into force on 21 March 1994.
The Kyoto Protocol cover page of the document is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012.
The major distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that while the Convention encouraged industrialized countries to stabilize GHG emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so.
Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”
The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. 184 Parties of the Convention have ratified its Protocol to date.
Navigational rights, territorial sea limits, economic jurisdiction, legal status of resources on the seabed beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, passage of ships through narrow straits, conservation and management of living marine resources, protection of the marine environment, a marine research regime and, a more unique feature, a binding procedure for settlement of disputes between States - these are among the important features of the treaty. In short, the Convention is an unprecedented attempt by the international community to regulate all aspects of the resources of the sea and uses of the ocean, and thus bring a stable order to mankind's very source of life.
This convention is an international agreement on plant health with 172 current signatory countries (Dec. 2009). It aims to protect cultivated and wild plants by preventing the introduction and spread of pests and to promote appropriate measures for their control. The Secretariat of the IPPC is provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
This agreement entered into force with the establishment of the World Trade Organization on 1 January 1995. It concerns the application of food safety and animal and plant health regulations. 
In September 2000, 191 countries adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration that led to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs are a set of specific targets for poverty reduction, health, education, gender equality, environmental sustainability and global partnerships to be reached by 2015.
Goal 7 of the MDGs is to ensure environmental sustainability. One target (target 2) specifically concerns biodiversity. The target is to reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss.
Regional Biodiversity Agreements
Here we present some of the regional agreements by geographic area. Web links are provided where available.
  • Europe
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • South Pacific Islands
  • South and Central America
  • Caribbean
  • Africa
  • Asia
Plant protection
Marine habitats and their resources
  • South Pacific Islands
Nature Conservation
Marine habitats and their resources
  • South and Central America
Forest resources
Marine habitats and their resources
  • Caribbean
Marine habitats and their resources

International Organizations and E-Reousrces

The information provided below was sourced from the organizations’ web sites.

1. General
Conservation International (CI) is a nonprofit organization headquartered in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, that seeks to protect Earth's biodiversity "hotspots", high-biodiversity wilderness areas as well as important marine regions around the globe. The group is also known for its partnerships with local non-governmental organizations and indigenous peoples.
IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network - a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and non-governmental member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries.
IUCN’s supports scientific research, manages field projects all over the world and brings governments, non-government organizations, United Nations agencies, companies and local communities together to develop and implement policy, laws and best practice.
The IUCN also publishes a “Red List” of species threatened with extinction worldwide. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species.
The goals of the IUCN Red List are to:
    • identify and document those species most in need of conservation attention if global extinction rates are to be reduced; and
    • provide a global index of the state of change of biodiversity.
The IUCN Red List is updated regularly. IUCN Red List of species threatened with extinction worldwide can be found:
The Nature Conservancy is a conservation organization that works around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people.
WWF is one of the world’s leading conservation organizations, working in 100 countries and supported by 1.2 million members in the United States and close to 5 million globally. WWF's mission is the conservation of nature.
WWF works to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth and the health of ecological systems by
    • protecting natural areas and wild populations of plants and animals, including endangered species;
    • promoting sustainable approaches to the use of renewable natural resources; and
    • promoting more efficient use of resources and energy and the maximum reduction of pollution.  

United Nations Environment Programme - UNEP

UNEP is the United Nations system’s designated entity for addressing environmental issues at the global and regional level. Its mandate is to coordinate the development of environmental policy consensus by keeping the global environment under review and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action.

ECOLEX is a database providing a comprehensive, global source of information on environmental law. ECOLEX is operated jointly by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), IUCN and UNEP.
2. Marine habitats and their resources
Protect Planet Ocean is a collaborative website between many global conservation partners, maintained by the IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas (Marine). Their mission is to inspire and inform better protection of our ocean, through the establishment of a global, representative network of successfully managed Marine Protected Areas.
3. Trade of endangered species
The wildlife trade monitoring network known as TRAFFIC works to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature.
TRAFFIC was established in 1976 and is governed by the TRAFFIC Committee, a steering group composed of members of TRAFFIC's partner organizations, World Wild Life (WWF) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). A central aim of TRAFFIC's activities is to contribute to the wildlife trade-related priorities of these partners.

Government Initiatives and Biodiversity Strategies

Some examples of national strategies on biodiversity are described below. You can access these strategies and others through the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) web site:

The World Resource Institute also provides information on biodiversity and protected areas by country


Democratic Republic of Congo
New Zealand
United Kingdom
United States

If you have good examples of government initiatives to protect biodiversity or national strategies on biodiversity to share with the INTOSAI community, you can send the information to project leaders. We would prefer it if the documents were provided in English.

Other Studies and Articles

The information provided about the studies and articles was taken from the web pages provided.

The TEEB study is a major international initiative to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity, to highlight the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and to draw together expertise from the fields of science, economics and policy to enable practical actions moving forward.

The MA was called for by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000. Initiated in 2001, the objective of the MA was to assess the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and the scientific basis for action needed to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of those systems and their contribution to human well-being. The MA findings, contained in five technical volumes and six synthesis reports, provide a state-of-the-art scientific appraisal of the condition and trends in the world’s ecosystems and the services they provide (such as clean water, food, forest products, flood control, and natural resources) and the options to restore, conserve or enhance the sustainable use of ecosystems. One of the synthesis report “Biodiversity Synthesis” is specific to biodiversity.

The fourth report in the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) series from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) provides a comprehensive, scientifically credible, policy-relevant and up-to-date assessment of, and outlook for, the state of the global environment. Environment for Development is the GEO-4 underlying theme and the report pays special attention to the role and impact of the environment on human well-being as well as to the use of environmental valuation as a tool for decision-making.
The Chapter 5 of the GEO-4 is specific to biodiversity.

Publication released by UNEP, that profiles Africa’s environmental resources as an asset for the region’s development. The report highlights the opportunities presented by the natural resource base to support development and the objectives of the African Union (AU) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The report underscores the need for sustainable livelihoods, and the importance of environmental initiatives in supporting them. Emphasis is put on what should and can be done with existing (remaining) environmental assets, in the context of identified constraints (issues), rather than focusing on what has been already lost. Chapter 7 of the AEO-2 focus on biodiversity issue.
Other UNEP publications can be found at:

Global Biodiversity Outlook is the flagship publication of the Convention on Biological Diversity and preparations are currently underway for the production of its third edition. Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 will be formally launched in 2010, the year proclaimed as the International Year of Biodiversity.

Audit Reports on Biodiversity

When planning an audit on biodiversity issues, it may be useful to see how other SAIs approached these topics.

Hundreds of audits have been conducted in the area of biodiversity.

Any audit that deals with ecosystems, watersheds, forests, agricultural practices, marine environments could be considered as an audit of biodiversity. Past audit reports on these topics and others are listed in the WGEA database, Environmental Audits Worldwide. Some audit reports may be accessed directly through the database.

Biodiversity issues have also been of interest to regional working groups such as the EUROSAI regional Working Group on Environmental Auditing.

If your SAI has conducted an audit on biodiversity which is not listed in the WGEA database, please send the information to the WGEA Secretariat at 


Through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, governments around the world are dedicating significant resources to combat the threats posed by climate change. The INTOSAI WGEA guidance materials on auditing the government response to climate change aim to inspire auditors to conduct more climate change audits and to provide useful information on how to design such audits.
The guidance materials are based on a four-step approach to design climate change audits, with a particular emphasis on risk analysis. It focuses on both, mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to the impacts of climate change.
The Guidance materials consist on three main outputs:
  • Guide "Auditing the Government Response to Climate Change"
  • E-Learning Course
  • Training Course
The Guide "Auditing the Government Response to Climate Change: Guidance for Supreme Audit Institutions" includes background information on climate change, its causes and impacts; an overview of the main international commitments; criteria for good governance in relation to climate change policy; and an overview of possible risk areas and audit questions.
The E-Learning Course consists of six Modules.
Module 1 gives an introduction to the climate change issue and aims to illustrate why climate change is an important field to audit.
Modules 2 through 4 go through the four-step process, based on fictional cases for both mitigation and adaptation.
Module 6 is a do-it-yourself tool, where auditors will be invited to apply the four-step approach on their own national climate change issues. The E-Learning also comes with a glossary, which can be accessed by pressing the ABC-button in the Modules.
We strongly recommend that participants take the Course going through the Modules in consecutive order.
The Training Course consists of presentations of the four-step approach, along with cases, quizzes and questions for group discussions. It is produced for implementation at regional workshops, but it can also be a useful tool for individual SAIs, especially if used with the Guide and the E-Learning Course.

You can download the materials of the Training Course here 


We hope you will enjoy the guidance materials we have prepared for "Auditing the Government Response to Climate Change", that you will be inspired to conduct more climate change audits, and that these audits will be targeted towards improving governments' response where it matters the most.


The INTOSAI WGEA would like to thank the SAI of Norway for the efforts of making the publication, the e-learning tool and the training materials available to all users.

E-Learning Course

Module 1: Introduction to Climate Change
The purpose of this module is to understand what climate change is and why it is important to audit the government's response to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the future climate changes.

Module 2: Plan a Mitigation Audit When the Response Involves Several Ministries
The purpose of this Module is to assist the auditor when identifying risks and designing an audit where there have been identified climate threats in several sectors, and different sector ministries are involved. How should the auditor prioritize among the different emission sectors, when deciding the scope of the audit? It is useful to have finished Module 1 before solving this case.

Module 3: Plan an Adaptation Audit Covering the Overall Framework of Policies
The purpose of this Module is to introduce to the auditor to the need of sufficient information and governance in the overall level. How to design an adaptation audit covering the overall level? It is useful to have finished Module 1 before solving this case.

Module 4: Plan a Mitigation Audit Focusing on Certain Policy Instruments
The purpose of this Module is to give an introduction to marked based policy tools, such as the flexible mechanisms developed under the Kyoto Protocol. How should the auditor consider economy, efficiency and effectiveness when auditing the government's use of those instruments? It is useful to have finished Module 1 and 2 before solving this case.

Module 5: Plan an Adaptation Audit Focusing on a Certain Sector
The purpose of this Module is to help the auditor understand the importance of also focusing on the sectors most affected by climate change. How to prioritize the sector the most affected and where the risks are most material? It is useful to have finished Module 1 and 3 before solving this case.

Module 6: Plan a Climate Change Audit Relevant in Your Country
The purpose of this Module is to assist the auditor when designing a country-specific mitigation or adaptation audit. The questions correspond to the key questions described in the guide. The first Step is about identifying climate change related problems and its impacts. For this Step there is a specific document you can download in the Module to describe the findings and save for later use. In the next Step you are supposed to map the government's response. This is done by asking key questions, and documenting the answers in another document you will find in the Module. Step 3 is about prioritizing risks and finding the audit objective. A risk analysis form you must open will help you ask relevant questions. Finally, in Step 4 you are supposed to fill out the design matrix document presented in the Module.

Global Audit on Climate Change

The Climate is Changing - Key Implications for Governments and their Auditors  


Governments around the world acknowledge the dangers posed by climate change and point to actions they are taking in response. But are they doing what they say they are doing? Are their actions having the intended effect? Fourteen Supreme Audit Institutions, who are the external auditors of their governments, have joined in a first of a kind cooperative audit of their governments’ climate change related policies and practices. They have jointly reported, today, that there has been some progress, but that climate change remains a formidable challenge for governments to address better.
The audits found a wide variety of efforts underway across developed and developing countries and overall reported that:
  • Emission reduction targets, objectives or commitments are generally in place in countries addressed by this report but they are not always supported by comprehensive and specific national, regional or sectoral strategies and plans. Some countries’ strategies and plans are relatively short-term and are not therefore a good basis for achieving sustained success in the long-term.
  • Conflicts between programs in other areas and climate change targets, objectives, or actions have impeded effectiveness. For example, agriculture policies can undermine efforts to reduce the loss of forests.
  • Work to assess risks from climate change and plan for adaptation is at an early stage despite long-standing international commitments to plan for adaptation. Many governments have not fully completed the risk management process and started to plan for adaptation to climate change.
  • Emissions trading, Joint Implementation, and the Clean Development Mechanism, which are important policy tools under the Kyoto Protocol, have not yet led to a significant reduction in emissions. Many of the audits have highlighted the difficulties in designing and implementing emissions trading and the Clean Development Mechanism in some developing countries has been slow and is not yet driving the transfer of technology and funds,
  • Climate Change mitigation and adaptation require action at, and coordination between, all levels of government, but the report notes that some countries have not defined clear roles and responsibilities for the numerous national government agencies involved.


  • High-quality information on climate change efforts is important but often lacking. Evaluation of key policy choices and instruments was not always in place.
Mr Mihkel Oviir, Auditor General, Riigikontroll, Estonia and chair of the INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing:
“Climate Change is already having a severe effect on some of us and is likely to increasingly disrupt our lives going forward. Governments are committed to addressing climate change; and their climate change policies, programs, and projects are highly material. But, our audits have shown that our Governments can do much better. We have brought together our findings, from Supreme Audit Institutions from 14 developed and developing countries around the world, to highlight key challenges our governments face and the unique role that Supreme Audit Institutions can play through bringing their governments to account and facilitating scrutiny of their performance by their legislatures. We hope this report will encourage more Supreme Audit Institutions to undertake such audits and lead to further improvements by our governments towards meeting the common global challenges."
Mr Terence Nombembe, Auditor-General of South Africa and host for the 2010 conference of Supreme Audit Institutions:
“Supreme Audit Institutions add value to society by being responsive to issues that affect the public since government has to address matters that affect the lives of citizens in any democracy. Climate change is one of those issues that impact all. This collaborative audit on climate change addressed one of the most fundamental areas of the 21st century that affect developed and developing countries. The audit covered the various different commitments, responsibilities and perspectives of climate change. Reports tabled in the individual countries will assist the various governments to take action and implement the necessary plans to address mitigation and adaptation issues, while the collective insight captured in this joint report will assist the world to address this topic. The collaborative audit involved 14 countries across 6 continents, which provides a platform from which even better collaborative audits can be conducted in the future.”


You can also read the Project Leader's Final Report: Process Chronicle and Lessons Learned here.


According to the United Nations, fraud and corruption represent one of the most serious challenges faced by the world community today. The economic, social and political costs they bring upon societies are enormous and affect people in both rich and poor countries, although evidence shows that the latter suffer the most severe consequences. Furthermore, there is a growing body of evidence which clearly indicates that the negative impacts of fraud and corruption also are substantial in the environmental and natural resource sectors.

Since the middle of the 1990s and especially during the last few years, INTOSAI has focused increasingly on the challenges posed by fraud and corruption, and on the roles of individual SAIs in coping with these challenges. The fight against corruption is also one of INTOSAI’s five strategic priorities in its Strategic Plan for the period 2011-2016.

The Working Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA) adopted fraud and corruption as one of the central themes of its work plan for 2011–2013. The WGEA decided to make information on fraud and corruption accessible for all of INTOSAI members and the general public. The "Focus on fraud and corruption" page provides information on how to address these issues when auditing environmental and natural resource management and may be a useful starting point for SAIs that are planning to integrate fraud and corruption issues in environmental audits.

Note: we provide several e-links to other web sites through this home page. We cannot guarantee the quality of the information provided by these sources.


How To Address Fraud and Corruption In Environmental and Natural Resource Management

The INTOSAI WGEA prepares guidance and environmental auditing tools. The paper "Addressing Fraud and Corruption Issues when Auditing Environmental and Natural Resource Management" gives an overview of fraud and corruption risks in the environmental and natural resource sectors and gives SAIs the information they need to address these risks when conducting environmental audits.

The paper presents

  • Examples on possible impacts of fraud and corruption in the environmental and natural resource sectors, with focus on forestry, fisheries, water management and biodiversity
  • Central definitions and concepts relating to fraud and corruption
  • Basic questions relating to internal controls and fraud and corruption illustrated with a case from the oil sector
  • The most important elements in a fraud and corruption risk assessment illustrated with examples from the environmental and natural resource sectors
  • Audit procedures to follow up identified fraud and corruption risks illustrated with five scenarios relating to land management, procurement in coal extraction, allocation of public grants to tree planting, climate mitigation measures (CDM-project) and management of oil revenues

Links to the fraud and corruption paper:

English version            Arabic version

Training courses on addressing fraud and corruption in environmental and natural resource management:

EUROSAI WGEA training seminar on fraud and corruption in Prague, Czech Republic, on Monday 14 October 2013

A one-day training seminar on fraud and corruption in the environmental and natural resource sectors was organized by the EUROSAI WGEA Secretariat in Prague, Czech Republic, on 14 October 2013. The main purpose of the seminar, which was held in connection with the 11th annual meeting of EUROSAI WGEA, was to introduce the participants to the new guideline through various group exercises. The exercises included fraud and corruption risk assessments, identification of internal controls, suggestions on possible audit procedures, as well as communication with other authorities and reporting of findings. Fisheries management had been chosen as a focal point.

Report from the Prague-seminar on fraud and corruption

Other training materials

As courses in the fraud & corruption-field to some extent have to be 'tailor-made', it is difficult to develop elaborate training materials in this field which are entirely generic. Still, it is possible to describe some of the basic elements which a course based on the guideline should contain - irrespective of topic. Instructors' notes, based on the framework used in the Prague-seminar are therefore enclosed.

Instructors' notes


International organizations and website focusing on fraud and corruption and environmental crimes

The information provided below was sourced from the organizations’ web sites.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime - UNODC

UNODC was established in 1997 and operates in all regions of the world through an extensive network of field offices. Corruption is one of the five main priority areas of the organization and UNODC mobilizes governments, business, civil society, the media and citizens around the world to fight corruption and promote a culture of transparency and integrity in both the public and the private sectors.

As guardian of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), UNODC provides technical assistance to States parties and signatories by helping them ensure judicial integrity, improve legislation, share good practices and develop strategies to fight corruption effectively. In connection with the fourth Conference of States Parties to UNCAC, in Morocco, October 2011, UNODC also organized a special event on corruption, environment and UNCAC. 

The INTERPOL Environmental Crime Programme

The INTERPOL Environmental Crime Programme was established in 2009 and leads global and regional operations to combat environmental crimes that affect areas such as wildlife, pollution, illegal logging and the theft of natural resources. The Programme also coordinates and develops international law enforcement best practice manuals, guides and other resources.

U4 Anti-Corruption Centre

U4 is a web-based resource centre established in 2002 for development practitioners who wish to effectively address corruption challenges in their work. U4 aims to provide users with relevant anti-corruption resources; including the centre's own applied research, publications, a helpdesk service and online training. Corruption in natural resource management and corruption associated with schemes aimed at Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) are among the main work themes of the centre.

Transparency International - TI

TI is an international non-governmental organization established in 1993 to stop corruption and promote transparency, accountability and integrity at all levels and across all sectors of society. TI consists of more than 100 national chapters – locally established, independent organisations – that address corruption in their respective countries. Among other things, TI produces a wide array of unique research on a range of corruption topics, from global public opinion surveys to detailed sectoral analysis at the national level. Water, oil and gas, forestry and climate change are among the central focus areas for TI.

Global Witness

Global Witness is a non-governmental organization established in 1993 which focuses particularly on the 'resource curse', that is, the paradox inherent in the fact that many countries which are resource-rich at the same time are home to some of the poorest and most dispossessed citizens on the planet. Global Witness investigates and campaigns to expose the systems that enable corruption, resource-fuelled conflict and environmental destruction. The oil, gas and mining sectors, as well as forestry and land management are among the main issues Global Witness works on.


For general information or to give feedback on the Focus on fraud and corruption webpage, please contact:

Kjell Kristian Dørum (SAI of Norway)

To enhance information dissemination, exchange, and learning in this field, information on audits focusing on fraud and corruption in the environmental and natural resource sectors is very much appreciated. Such audits can be sent to:

INTOSAI WGEA Secretariat
The Audit Board of the Republic of Indonesia (BPK RI)
Gedung Baru Lantai 5
Jl. Gatot Subroto No 31 Jakarta 10210
Phone: +62 21 57854098
Fax : +62 21 57953198


Waste is a growing problem that affects local communities, cities, and regions and is increasingly becoming a global concern. When it is not handled properly, waste poses a great threat to the well-being and health of humans and animals and can cause major deterioration of the environment.

Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) all over the world have recognized this problem and have chosen to increase the authorities' awareness and responsibility by exposing the insufficient waste management in their countries. This awareness will help improve the quality of waste management and, as a result, improve public health and the environment.

The Working Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA) adopted waste as the central theme of its work plan for 2002–04 and extended it for the 2005–07 plan. The WGEA decided to make information on waste accessible for all of INTOSAI members and the general public. The Focus on waste home page provides information on how to audit waste and waste management and may be a useful starting point for SAIs that are planning audits on waste issues.

The following are links to other relevant homepages on waste issues. We do not guarantee the quality of the information the links provide.  

How to audit waste issues

The INTOSAI WGEA prepares guidance and environmental auditing tools. The paper "Towards Auditing Waste Management" gives an overview of waste management issues and gives SAIs the information they need to conduct audits of waste issues.

The paper presents

  • concepts and definitions related to waste,
  • the environmental and health problems caused by waste,
  • examples of waste management systems in several different countries, and
  • experiences gained in the INTOSAI community from waste management audits.

It also contains a large selection of problem areas and gives some ideas for selecting the scope for an audit on waste management.

The following figure is in the paper on waste and gives auditors an overview of key areas and possible approaches for auditing waste management. An auditor may choose the focus for an audit by defining types of waste, by selecting from the various stages that waste passes through in the waste stream, or by choosing the generic audit topics or questions that are to be analyzed.


Links to the waste paper:

Towards Auditing Waste Management (Paper with pictures), English (14441k)

Towards Auditing Waste Management (Paper without pictures), English (1132k)

Towards Auditing Waste Management (Paper without pictures), French (1274k)

Towards Auditing Waste Management (Paper without pictures), German (1286k)

Towards Auditing Waste Management (Paper without pictures), Arabic (2490k)


Environmental audit reports on waste

When planning an audit on waste issues, it may be useful to see how other SAIs have approached this topic. A significant number of audits on waste issues have been conducted in the last decade. Some of the audit reports and their summaries are available in English in the INTOSAI WGEA Environmental Audits Worldwide database.

Audits from 2003 and beyond are available on general waste, hazardous waste, municipal, solid, and non-hazardous waste, radioactive waste, contaminated sites and soil pollution and other waste issues. Audits prior to 2003 on general waste, solid waste, and hazardous waste are available at  waste. Audits prior to 2003 on radioactivity, including radioactive waste, are available at radioactivity. Audits that are not available from this database may be made available through the individual SAIs.

If your SAI has conducted an audit on waste  which is not listed in the WGEA database under Environmental Audits Worldwide, please send information on your audit to the WGEA Secretariat at (see How to submit audit reports ).

International agreements on waste

Pollution does not recognize borders. It is transported freely between countries and continents. The international community has recognized this fact, and a number of international agreements have been established in the last few decades, which SAIs can use to develop audit criteria for auditing waste issues and waste management systems. Links to the most relevant agreements on waste and to overviews of participating countries are listed on this page.

Agreements regarding radioactive waste

The Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (1997)was the first legal instrument to directly address spent fuel and radioactive waste management on a global scale. The Convention entered into force in 2001.

The objectives of this Convention are to

  • achieve and maintain safety worldwide in spent fuel and radioactive waste management through the enhancement of national measures and co-operation;
  • ensure that there are effective defences against potential hazards during all stages of spent fuel and radioactive waste management; and
  • prevent accidents with radiological consequences and to mitigate their consequences, should they occur.

A list of the signatories and contracting parties is available at Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.

The Convention on Nuclear Safety (1994) is a global agreement that was adopted in Vienna in 1994 and entered into force in 1996. Its aim is to legally commit participating states that operate land-based nuclear power plants to maintain a high level of safety, by setting international benchmarks.

All countries with operating nuclear power plants are now parties to the Convention. The list of contracting parties is available in the list under the Convention on Nuclear Safety.

Agreements regarding hazardous waste

The Basel Convention (1989) is a global agreement addressing the problems and challenges posed by hazardous waste. Its objectives are to

  • minimize the generation of hazardous waste, according to quantity and level of hazardousness;
  • dispose hazardous wastes as close to the source of generation as possible; and
  • reduce the movement of hazardous waste.

A central goal of the convention is environmentally sound management (EMS) which means addressing the issue through an "integrated life-cycle approach". This approach involves strong controls from the time the hazardous waste is generated to its storage, transport, treatment, reuse, recycling, recovery, and final disposal.

A list of which countries are parties to the convention is available at: Ratifications.

The Bamako Convention (1991) is an agreement controlled by the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes that was adopted in Bamako, Mali, on 30 January 1991 and aims to prohibit the importing of any hazardous wastes (including radioactive) and products that have been banned, cancelled, or withdrawn from registration for environmental or health reasons.

The following link lists the countries that have implemented or ratified the ban: parties to the convention.

The Waigani Convention (1995) is an agreement that came into force in 2001 to ban the importation of hazardous and radioactive wastes into Forum Island Countries and to control the transboundary movement and management of hazardous wastes within the South Pacific Region.

The aim of this treaty is to prohibit each Pacific Island that is a party to the convention, from importing all hazardous and radioactive wastes from outside of the convention area. Australia and New Zealand are prohibited from exporting hazardous or radioactive wastes to all other South Pacific Forum Island countries.

A ist of countries who are parties to the convention is available in the Table of countries.

Agreements on waste and oceans

The London Convention (1972) on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter is a global agreement that was drawn at the Intergovernmental Conference on the Dumping of Wastes at Sea in London in 1972.

The objective of the convention is to prevent pollution of the sea, by the dumping of waste and other matter, which is likely to

  • create hazards to human health,
  • harm living resources and marine life,
  • damage amenities, or
  • interfere with other legitimate uses of the sea.

The list of parties to the London convention is available at Parties to the London convention as of April 2006 .

The MARPOL 73/78 Conventionis the main international convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. Its key objectives are to

  • eliminate pollution of the sea caused by the discharge of oil, chemicals, harmful substances in packaged form, sewage, garbage, and other harmful substances;
  • minimize the amount of oil that is accidentally released by ships; and
  • improve the prevention and control of marine pollution from ships, particularly oil tankers.

In December 2001, 161 countries were parties of the convention. The latest accessions and ratifications are available at latest ratifications.

Agreements including non-hazardous or solid waste

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD) has instituted binding agreements, OECD decision C(2001)107/FINAL, for its member countries that regulate the transboundary movements of waste destined for recovery operations. The agreements are compatible with the Basel Convention.

Several acts have been adopted covering waste identification and definition, and control of transboundary movements of waste. The control system aims to facilitate the trade of recyclables in an environmentally sound and economically efficient manner. It uses a simplified procedure and introduces a risk-based approach to assessing the necessary level of control of materials.

General agreements included waste

The Stockholm convention on persistent organic pollutants (pops) is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from POPs, which circulate globally and can cause damage wherever they travel. The convention

  • sets up a system for tackling chemicals that are identified as unacceptably hazardous,
  • seeks to ensure that special efforts are made to phase out certain chemicals for certain uses,
  • points the way to a future free of dangerous POPs, and
  • tries to reshape our economy's reliance on toxic chemicals.


A list of the 90 countries that have joined as Party and the status of the national implementation plans submitted by each party is available at parties and status of national implementation plans.

Database for international environmental treaties and agreements

This ENTRI Environmental Treaties and Resource Indicators website is a comprehensive online service for accessing multilateral, environmental treaty data. It is possible to search for each country's environmental treaty profile, including waste, through this site.

The Division of Environmental Conventions under the United Nations Development Program

The Division of Environmental Conventions under the United Nations Development Programme provides links to multilateral agreements, including agreements on waste.

International organizations and websites

Information about waste and waste management is available on websites of international organizations, where there is a glossary and information on

  • waste causes, effects, indicators, and statistics;
  • instruments to improve waste management;
  • possible solutions;
  • life-cycle of waste; and
  • other waste issues, including solid waste, hazardous waste, and radioactive waste.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

UNEP—Vital Waste Graphics

UNEP Waste Management - Production and Consumption Unit

UNEP United Nations System—Wide Earthwatch

UNEP—Agenda 21, Chapters on Waste

World Bank

World Bank—Urban Solid Waste Management

World Health Organization (WHO)

World Health Organization—Waste Management

World Health Organization—Healthcare waste

World Health Organization—Regional Office for South-East Asia

Europe and the European Union (EU)

EUROPA European Commission—Waste

EUROPA: European Union—Summaries of Legislation for Waste Management

European Topic Centre on Resource and Waste Management

European Environment Agency—Waste

European Environmental Bureau—Waste

Other International or Regional Organizations

IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency—Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety

Nuclear Energy Agency

OECD Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development—Waste

OECD Nuclear Energy Agency—OECD—Radioactive waste management

South Pacific Regional Environment Programme—solid waste management

Links to information bases where you have to search on waste

European Environment Information and Observation Network

The Asian Network for Prevention of Illegal Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste

Links to capacity builders

The WGEA and the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI) entered into a partnership to develop and deliver a two-week training course on environmental auditing for SAIs in 2002-03. Waste was one of the four key environmental issues covered in the course. Information about the training program is available at IDI/WGEA—Environmental auditing Training Program. SAIs may contact IDI to receive the training material for the two-week workshop UNITAR United Nations Institute for Training and Research on chemicals waste and Environmental Governance.

Examples of national government on waste management

All countries experience waste-related problems, which require policies and practical solutions. The waste management systems vary between countries. The following links to national governments and agencies illustrate how waste management policies and systems work in different countries.


Federal Environmental Agency—Umweltbundesamt—Waste management


Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage—Waste and recycling

Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training—Radioactive Waste Management

Australia Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency


Public waste agency of Flanders


Environment Canada—Waste Management

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME)—Waste Management

Nuclear Fuel Waste Bureau

Nuclear Waste Management Organization


State Environmental Protection Administration of China

China / Hong Kong

Environmental Protection Department—Waste


Danish Environmental Protection Agency—Waste and recycling


Estonian Environment Information Centre


Ministry of the Environment—Waste management

Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK)—nuclear waste


National Radioactive Waste Management Agency


Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety


Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government—Waste Management

Environmental Protection Agency—Waste


Ministry of Environmental Protection


Ministry of the Environment—Waste and Recycling

Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO)

Korea (republic of)

Ministry of Environment—Waste Management


Ministry for Rural Affairs and the Environment

The Netherlands:

Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment—Waste Policy

New Zealand

Ministry of the Environment—Waste


Stat of Environment Norway—Waste


National Environment Agency—Waste Management

South Africa

South African Government Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism


Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Body


Federal Office of the Environment (FOEN)—Waste

The United Kingdom

Environment Agency—Waste

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)—Waste and Recycling

Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CORWM)

The United States

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—Wastes

The Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM)


EU-China Network for Capacity Building on Municipal Waste Management


Freshwater is essential for the environment and for people all over the world. However, there are ongoing concerns about the quantity and quality of water resources. They include the lack of access to freshwater and sanitation, water pollution from agricultural and industrial activities, flooding, desertification, and the loss of biodiversity. Safeguarding water resources in a sustainable way—one that enables future generations to meet their own needs—a public responsibility.

Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) all over the world have chosen to audit water issues to increase the authorities' awareness of and responsibility for freshwater, to enhance the quality of water management, and to improve public health and the environment.

The Working Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA) adopted water as the central theme of its work plan for 1996-2001, and extended it for the 2005-07 plan. The WGEA has decided to make information accessible and available to all INTOSAI members and the general public. The "Focus on Water" home page provides information on how to audit water and water management and may be a useful starting point for SAIs that are planning audits of water issues.

The following are links to other relevant home pages on water issues. We do not guarantee the quality of the information the links provide.

How to audit water issues?

The INTOSAI WGEA prepares guidance and environmental auditing tools. The paper "Auditing Water Issues, Experiences of Supreme Audit Institutions" gives an overview of water management issues and gives SAIs the information they need to conduct audits of water issues.

The following paper summarizes the collective experience of SAIs around the world, draws on the lessons learned from more than 350 audits, and provides practical tips for SAI’s.

Links to the water paper:

Auditing Water Issues: Experiences of Supreme Audit Institutions, English (871k)

Auditing Water Issues: Experiences of Supreme Audit Institutions, French (858k)

Auditing Water Issues: Experiences of Supreme Audit Institutions, German (777k)

Auditing Water Issues: Experiences of Supreme Audit Institutions, Arabic (2725k)

Link to the water presentation:

The following presentation was made during the eighth meeting (WG8) of the WGEA in Warsaw in June 2003.

Auditing Water Issues: Experiences of Supreme Audit Institutions

ARABOSAI WGEA working papers on auditing water issues:
Package of materials (.zip-file, 338 KB)

Environmental Audit Report on Water

When planning audits on water issues, it may be useful to see how other SAIs have approached this topic. A significant number of audits on water issues have been conducted in the past decade. From 1997 to 2002, INTOSAI members conducted more than 400 audits on water issues. Some of the audit reports and their summaries are available in English in the WGEA database. Audits on freshwater (for example, audits on drinking water, water quality, rivers, and lakes) and saltwater (for example, marine pollution) are available through the links audits on freshwater and audits on saltwater. Any audits that are not available in this database may be made available through individual SAIs.

The EUROSAI WGEA has also gathered abstracts of national audits on water protection.

If your SAI has conducted an audit on water, and it is not listed on the WGEA database, under Environmental Audits Worldwide, you can send information on your audit to the WGEA Secretariat at (see How to submit audit reports ).

International organizations and environmental institutions

Most of the international agreements have a secretariat or a coordinating bureau that gathers and publish all kinds of useful information (for example, how the agreement should be interpreted and implemented and on the performance of member states). The secretariats are also involved in monitoring, evaluating, and organizing conferences. Most secretariats provide guidance on how to implement agreements, and some can even advise and actively help signatories. These secretariats can be a very useful source of information for SAIs that are preparing and executing audits.

United Nations

UNEP United Nations System - Wide Earthwatch Freshwater

Under the United Nations (UN) framework, there is the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP). This system-wide freshwater programme, conducted by 23 UN agencies and commissions, is committed to monitoring progress on water-related targets for health, food, ecosystems, cities, industry, energy, risk management, economic evaluation, resource sharing, and governance.

The WWAP reports to the international community on the state of the resource at regular intervals. The first World Water Development Report, Water for People – Water for Life report was made in March 2003 and includes contributions from each agency, country tables, and seven pilot case studies of watersheds in different socio-economic and environmental settings. Information about each partner agency, the assessment programme, and the case studies is available on the WWAP website.

All of these organizations are engaged in activities and programmes relating to water and the environment. The programmes often help national governments develop their environmental policies, by providing information and practical guidance to national and regional authorities, particularly to developing countries. These organizations are also active in monitoring and evaluation. The information that SAIs get from these international organizations can help them audit their governments to determine whether they make good use of the possibilities offered by these international organizations and programmes.

The following are examples of activities and programmes developed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)are:

  • The Dams and Development Project promotes dialogue on improving the decision-making, planning, and management of dams and their alternatives and is based on the World Commission on Dams core values and strategic priorities.
  • The Global Programme of Action for the protection of the marine environment from land-based activities prevents the degradation of the marine environment due to land-based activities.
  • The Mediterranean Action Plan protects the environment and fosters development in the Mediterranean Sea . The plan covers coastal zone management, pollution assessment and control, protection of ecosystems, and preservation of biodiversity.
  • A total of 69 countries, all over the world, participate in UNEP's Global Environmental Monitoring System's freshwater quality programme. It is a multi-faceted water science programme for understanding freshwater quality issues throughout the world. Major activities include monitoring, assessment, and capacity building. The programme provides an annotated digital atlas of global water quality, with data on water quality in 84 major river basins.

The following are examples of activities and programmes developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are:

  • The UNDP and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) implemented the Partnership for environmental management for the seas of East Asia (PEMSEA). One of the programme's main components is integrated coastal management.
  • The UNDP Sustainable Water Management Programme is concerned with the development of global and regional strategies for sustainable water management. The UNDP Millennium Development Goals to reduce poverty and child mortality also include two specific water-related goals: to reduce by half the proportion of people who are unable to reach or afford safe drinking water by the year 2015, and to stop the unsustainable exploitation of water resources, by developing water management strategies that promote both equitable access and adequate supplies at regional, national, and local levels.
  • The UNDP established the Drylands Development Centre to implement the Convention to Combat Desertification and support countries affected by desertification and drought. The Centre provides assistance to countries in ways that include policy advice, technical support, and institutional capacity development, etc.
  • The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) hosts the International Programme for Technology and Research in Irrigation and Drainage (IPTRID). This internationally funded programme promotes technology and research in irrigation and drainage technology in developing countries. Its objectives are to improve technology and management to increase food production and agricultural commodities, to enhance food security, and to help eliminate poverty—and still give due regard to the needs of the environment.

More information about international projects, organizations, and international agreements can be found at the UNESCO Water Portal. The site provides simple access to the websites of secretariats, agreements, and regional offices of UN international organizations.

World Bank

World Bank; Topic water

World Health Organization (WHO)

World Health Organization, Health topics: water

Europe and the European Union

EUROPA European Commission - Water

European Environment Information and Observation Network (EIONET) - Water

European Environment Agency - Water

European Environmental Bureau - Water

Other International or Regional Organizations

OECD Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – Water

South Pacific Regional Environment Programme – The International Waters Project

Links to capacity builders

The WGEA and the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI) entered into a partnership to develop and deliver a two-week training course on environmental auditing for SAIs in 2002-03. Water was one of the four key environmental issues covered in the course. Information about the training programme is available at IDI/ WGEA – Environmental Auditing Training Program. SAIs may contact IDI to receive the training material for the two-weeks workshop

Seminars and workshops on water

The WGEA and some of the regional working groups have organized workshops and seminars to share information and their latest auditing findings. Presentations on water audits and links to presentations and papers, those that are available to the public, are listed in the following table.

Presentation of water audits at meetings of the INTOSAI WGEA Assembly





WG10, Moscow, Russia, 27 October 2005



Auditing of Tsunami Funds with Geophysical and Environmental Perspectives




The Management and Protection of Water Resources




Environmental Audit on the Water Quality Improvement Projects: Four major Rivers of Korea


Slovak Republic


The Importance of the Audit in the Area of Waste Water Treatment




Audit of Implementation of Provisions of the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area -The Helsinki convention

WG9, Brasilia, Brazil, 31 May 2004


Potable Water for Human Consumption in Rural Localities - Office of the Comptroller General of Chile - Regular Environmental Auditing, 2003

Potable Water for Human Consumption in Rural Localities - Office of the Comptroller General of Chile - Regular Environmental Auditing, 2003



Facing New Challenges

Auditing Creation and Expansion of Urban Sanitation System Plan

WG8, Warsaw, Poland, 24 June 2003



Environmental audits 2001/2002 - The audit of water and waste water management




Review of the Action Taken by the Ministry of the Environment and Waters Following Performance Audit on the Implementation of the Provisions of the Danube River Protection Contention



Audit of the Provisions of the Convention on Cooperation for the Protection and Sustainable Use of the Danube River

Audit of the Provisions of the Convention on Cooperation for the Protection and Sustainable Use of the Danube River



Surveillance of oil pollution on the sea

Surveillance of oil pollution on the sea




Summary of a CAO's Audit Report on the Extent of Appropriateness and Soundness of the Potable Water 2000/2001




Auditing the Irrigation Networks Plans




Preventing and Dealing with Pollution from Ships




Management of Water Resources - Seriousness of the Problem and the SCC's Experiences from the Audits Carried out




Water Protection Audit




Audits of water resources, carried out by the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation on the national and international levels


Slovak Republic


The Activities of the Supreme Audit Office of SR in the Field of International Environmental Auditing


United Kingdom


Department of International Development: Maximising Impact in the Water Sector


United States

Improved EPA Guidance and Support can Help States Develop Standards that Better Target Cleanup Efforts

Improved EPA Guidance and Support can Help States Develop Standards that Better Target Cleanup Efforts



For general information or to give feedback on the Focus on water website, send an email to

Visiting address:

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The Hague
The Netherlands

Postal address:

Postbus 20015
2500 EA, the Hague
The Netherlands


+ 31 70 3424344


+ 31 70 3424130

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