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Thứ Năm, ngày 30/06/2022

Provisions on environmental audit in law on environmental protection 2020

08/01/2022

    For the first time, the content of environmental audits has been specified in Article 74 of the Law on Environmental Protection (LEP) in 2020. The goal is to encourage the application of environmental audit tools at production, business and services establishments to meet the requirements of environmental protection and improve the efficiency of environmental protection at the establishment.

    Regulations on environmental audits in the LEP 2020

    The content of environmental audit has been recorded in Article 6, LEP 2014. However, because it has only been recorded without specific regulations and guidelines, so far the implementation of this content has not been implemented in practice.

    The LEP 2020 has more specific provisions on the content of environmental audit than in the LEP 2014. Specific provisions include:

    In terms of definition: environmental audit is the systematic and comprehensive review and assessment of the effectiveness of environment management and pollution control of production, business and service establishments.

    In terms of content: The main content of environmental audit for production, business and service establishments includes the use of energy, chemicals, raw materials and scrap imported from abroad as production materials and pollution control and waste management.

    In addition to the above provisions, the content of environmental audit in the LEP 2020 also contains provisions suitable to the characteristics and development level of production, business and service establishments. The LEP 2020 stipulates to encourage production, business and service establishments to carry out environmental audits. The above regulation is appropriate as well as does not affect the development and create additional burden for production, business and service establishments. With self-awareness of the benefits that environmental audit brings, production and service establishments will actively choose and apply environmental audit as an effective solution for environmental management.

    With the desire that environmental audit regulations are implemented in practice, providing more knowledge and guidance for production and service establishments to conduct environmental audits themselves, the LEP stipulates that the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment provide technical guidance on environmental self-audit activities of production, business and service establishments. When issued, this is considered the first official document for production, business and service establishments to research and apply in the process of conducting environmental audits at their facilities.

    Some regulations on environmental audit in some countries around the world

     In the world, some countries have regulated the content of environmental audit in the LEP such as in Australia, Uganda, Malaysia, Myanmar or there is a Law on environmental audit such as in Turkmenistan.

    In Australia

    Environment Protect Act 2019 stipulates the content of environmental audit in Articles 142 to 156. The provisions include the purpose of environmental audit, regulations on environmental audit reports, regulations on auditors.

    According to this Act, an environmental audit is a documented assessment of an action and its environmental impact (including an assessment of management practices, systems and factory) for any one of the following purposes: (1) to provide information to managers on compliance with legal requirements and policies related to environmental protection; (2) assessment of the nature, type, intensity and extent of environmental impacts; (3) evaluate whether measures to minimize or remediate environmental impacts or to restore the environment have been taken or have been effective.

    According to the provisions of this Law, the implementation of environmental audit is carried out in enterprises and the head of the enterprise, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the person who directly directs the implementation of the environmental audit at the enterprise. The CEO can designate organizations and individuals who are qualified to carry out environmental audits.

    Law No. 122-VI on environmental audit (Law of Turkmenistan of March 2, 2019 No.122-VI) defines the legal basis for conducting environmental audit in order to achieve the environmental and ecological objectives of the country which applies to the subjects of economic activities and the objects prescribed by law. According to this Law, environmental audit is the assessment of documents on compliance with the requirements of the laws of Turkmenistan, standards and regulatory documents in the field of ecological environmental protection according to international standards; conclusions and recommendations on improving environmental management.

    The law stipulates that the environmental audit at production, business and service establishments is mandatory or voluntary, depending on the regulations of the management agency. Management agencies encourage organizations/individuals to implement this tool. Environmental audits are performed by organizations and individuals with experience and knowledge in the relevant fields. The Law also stipulates a number of contents on technical methods for carrying out environmental audits and data for carrying out environmental audits.

    Uganda

    In Uganda, the National Environment Act 2019 defines environmental audit as the process of assessing a project, the management system of an organization, factory and equipments on environmental protection efficiency, in accordance with the provisions of this Act and other regulations.

    Within the scope of the environmental audit regulation, carrying out an environmental compliance audit is required for some projects. The implementation of environmental compliance audit aims to protect the environment and prevent health impacts.

    In addition, the Act also stipulates that the National Environment Fund provides financial support for the implementation of environmental audits.

    Malaysia

    The Environmental Quality Act of Malaysia, amended in 2006 in Article 33A, regulates environmental audit. Environmental audit is a systematic, independent assessment process with the goal of assessing compliance with regulations on environmental protection, assessment of environmental protection system and environmental risk assessment of organizations, production facilities and building.

    The Minister of Environment shall prescribe a list of owners of vehicles, ships, production facilities and buildings that must carry out environmental audits and send environmental audit reports to the management agency. The environmental audit must be performed by fully functional organizations and individuals who licensed to operate by state agencies.

    Myanmar

    Environmental Conversation Law 2012 stipulates the content of environmental audit. Accordingly, environmental audit is a periodical, systematic and objective assessment to determine the level of compliance with legal regulations on environmental protection, environmental management system and environmental risks of a building or a project.

    According to this definition, an environmental audit would include: (1) Auditing of the environmental management system; (2) Auditing compliance with legal regulations on environmental protection; (3) Auditing and assessing environmental risks.

    Indonesia

    Indonesia's Environmental Protection and Management Act No. 32/2009 stipulates that the Government encourages individuals and organizations to conduct environmental audits to improve the effectiveness of environmental protection.

    The Minister of Environment shall stipulate the implementation of environmental audit for organizations, production and business establishments with high risk of causing environmental pollution; organizations and individuals that do not comply with regulations on environmental protection; activities with a high risk of causing environmental pollution will be carried out regularly. To carry out environmental audits, the Minister has the authorization to appoint an independent third party to perform environmental audits.

    Benefits of performing environmental audit

    The results of environmental audits in many countries show that the implementation of environmental audits has brought about combined environmental and economic benefits.

    Performing environmental audits not only helps businesses comply with regulations, but also helps businesses better implement regulations on environmental protection. The implementation of environmental audit helps organizations, production facilities, business services accurately identify problems and risks related to environmental management at all stages of production and business. Thematic audits will identify specific issues, helping businesses operate better and better.

    Organizations and enterprises often have to pay expenses for environmental protection activities such as costs of treatment and remediation of pollution, costs of compensation for damage caused by environmental pollution, costs of environmental insurance. According to the assessment, these costs account for a large proportion of the total operating costs of the enterprise. In many cases the environmental costs are higher than the profits achieved by the business. Therefore, performing an environmental audit will help businesses reduce these costs.

     In business activities, many businesses realize benefits from environmental protection activities such as contributing to improving the image of the Company, helping to increase competitiveness in the market. Besides other tools, environmental audit is a tool for the Company to be proactive in implementing environmental protection.

    Comparison of regulations on environmental audit in the LEP 2020 and legal documents of some countries

    From the synthesis of regulations on environmental audit in the legal documents of some countries, it can be seen that the regulations are basically consistent with the theoretical and scientific contents of environmental audit.

    Depending on the country, the object of environmental audit will be regulated in accordance with the objectives of environmental management. In some countries, the object of environmental audit is only industrial production facilities. However, in some other countries, the implementation of environmental audit applies to projects, management systems of organizations, establishments or other entities according to regulations.

    Environmental audit content focuses on auditing compliance with environmental protection policies, auditing of environmental management systems, thematic audits (energy, raw materials, materials and waste, biodiversity... ). The main purpose when performing an environmental audit is to evaluate the effectiveness of the environmental management system, assess the compliance with the legal regulations on environmental protection, and create favorable conditions for control and prevention of environmental pollution in production, business and service establishments.

    A comparison table of some provisions on environmental audit in the LEP 2020 and legal documents of some countries around the world

No

Legal documents of countries

Subjects of application

Features

Mandatory

Voluntary

1

Vietnam's LEP 2020

Production, business and service establishments

 

X

2

Australia, Environment Protection Act 2019

Manufacturing enterprises

X

 

3

Law of Turkmenistan 2019

Production, business and service establishments

X

X

4

Uganda, The National Environment Act 2019

Organizations, production, business and service establishments

X

 

5

Malaysia, Environmental Quality Act

Production facilities, buildings

X

 

6

Myanmar, Environmental Conversation Law 2019

Project, building

Not specified

7

Indonesia, Environmental Protection and Management Act, 2009

Organizations, production, business and service establishments

 

X

 
References
  1. LEP of Việt Nam in 2020
  2. Australia, Environment Protection Act 2019 (No. 31 of 2019).
  3. Law of Turkmenistan 2019 (No.122-VI).
  4. Uganda, The National Environment Act, 2019.
  5. Indonesia, Environmental Protection and Management Act (32/2009).
  6. Myanmar, Environmental Conversation Law 2019.
  7. Malaysia, Environmental Quality Act.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phạm Van Loi

MSc. Han Tran Viet

Institute of Environmental Science

(Source: Vietnam Environment Administration Magazine, English Edition IV-2021)

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