ASOSAI SEMINAR ON ENVIRONMENTAL AUDITING
Environmental auditing is relatively a new area to Audit Department, Negara Brunei Darussalam’s Supreme Audit Institution (SAI). As of date, Audit Department has not conducted any environmental audit.
Through this seminar, Audit Department hopes to gain knowledge and experiences on environmental auditing from other participating SAIs.
National Environmental Policy And The Actions Adopted
Environment And Development Profile
Negara Brunei Darussalam is located near the equator on the north-west coast of the island of Borneo. It is bounded on the North by the South China Sea and on all the other sides by the Malaysian state of Sarawak which divides the country into two parts, the eastern part is the Temburong district and the western part consists of the Brunei Muara, Tutong and Belait districts. Negara Brunei Darussalam is endowed with relatively clean environment and extensive natural resources. The country’s forests occupy almost 80 per cent of the land area and encompass a wide biological diversity. Marine and coastal areas have generally pristine environmental quality with rich living and non living resources. Its soils are quite fertile. The citizens are prosperous and healthy, have a fairly satisfactory standard of living and enjoy good quality of life.
Environmental protection and conservation continue to be the integral component’s of the country’s development process to ensure sustainable development in line with the long term objective of maintaining a clean and healthy environment. In the previous National Development Plans (NDP), environmental issues had been identified, for example in the 5th NDP (1986-1990), the policy on conservation and protection of tropical forest and bio-diversity was formulated to protect the natural resources, while in the 6th NDP ( 1991-1995) and 7th NDP (1996-2000), directions and policies for better environmental management and the formulation of a comprehensive national environment strategy were prepared. The Forestry Conservation and Protection Policy, pollution control measures and solid waste management programmes had been implemented, an extensive programme for landscape improvement launched. There is growing public awareness of these issues, and regional and international co-operations are increasing. These policies and programmes not only need to be continued, but several other environmental management policies and measures need to be introduced to keep the environmental quality in Negara Brunei Darussalam healthy.
Need For Environmental Strategy (NES)
The National Environment Strategy of Brunei Darussalam formulated in 1993, is intended to support implementation of national policies and programmes on environmental and natural resource conservation and management. It can also be seen as a national response to the recommendations of Agenda 21 adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), the Earth Summit held at Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, requesting the governments to adopt a national strategy for sustainable development, which should build upon and harmonise various sectoral economic, social and environmental policies and plans of the country. It also attempts to take into account the ASEAN concerns and goals, as identified by various ministerial resolutions and the ASEAN Strategic Plan of Action on the Environment 1995-2000.
The NES of Negara Brunei Darussalam introduces a coordinating and unifying framework for strengthening and building on existing initiatives. It addresses the strengths and weaknesses of existing initiatives, and promotes practical actions where suitable instruments are lacking, or where existing mechanisms are not implemented to their full potential. It also proposes strengthening of existing institutional and legislative framework for environmental protection, and seeks to more effectively integrate environmental concerns into all relevant socioeconomic sectors and increase environmental awareness and public participation in environmental management efforts.
The NES presents an innovative and proactive approach to promote environmental management and wise use of the natural resources of the country. It addresses all the environmental issues and their nuances in a synergetic manner. It also promotes the integration of environmental and natural resources concerned into all relevant economic and social sectors. It complements and supplements the implementation of existing measures and identifies additional actions that need to be taken.
Among the aims of the strategy are;
to fulfil basic needs through the sustainable and equitable management and utilisation of resources at all levels;
to conserve biological diversity and maintain essential ecological process and life support systems namely land, water, air, flora and fauna;
to promote environmental health and well-being of all citizens;
to reinforce development and build capacities of institutions, technologies and human resources to secure well being of all citizens;
On 1st January 1992, an Environment Unit was been established under the Ministry of Development. With a view to improving coordination and assigning responsibilities, the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Dipertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam had established an inter-agency National Committee for the environment in 1993. With the establishment of the National Committee, the Environment Unit served as a secretariat to the National Committee for improving the environmental management efforts and implementation of Agenda 21 of UNCED (as mentioned in para b) above).
On 1st May 2002, the Environment Unit was expanded and converted into the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation. This department acts as a coordinating agency in environmental protection and management, and at the same time as an agency to enforce the national environmental acts and regulations.
The Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation during its conception, promulgated the Environmental Policy in carrying out its functions:-
Prevention and control of pollution and environmental degradation
Enhancement of public and private sector role in environmental protection and management
Sustainable utilization of natural resources
Integration of environmental consideration in development planning and development
Strengthening administrative and institutional mechanism
Active participation in regional and global efforts in environmental and conservation
State Of The Environment
Progress In The 7th National Development Plan (NDP), 1996-2000
In general, the air quality as measured by the Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) was in good conditions except during the haze episode in 1997 and 1998.
Several technical, institutional and legal measures have been introduced to manage air pollution problems in the country:-
The National Committee on Haze was established in February 1998 to address haze problems
Air quality monitoring system was also established in the four districts to monitor air quality
Legal provision relating to open burning was enforced in May 1998
An environment disaster fund was introduced with private sector co-operation and
The full utilization of unleaded gasoline was enforced since March 2000
The petroleum industry had taken several measures to protect the environment including monitoring gaseous emissions from its operations and geared all its operations and management systems to satisfy the internationally recognized standards for environment management such as the ISO 14000.
The total number of vehicles increasing from 167,790 in 1995 to 202,244 in 1999, the severity of the air pollution from exhaust emissions had been reduced with the full use of unleaded gasoline beginning March 2000 as well as the existence of an effective road traffic system. However, diesel fueled vehicles made up of 15% of the total vehicles registered in 1995 which increased to 25.5% in 1999, therefore, required tight controls on vehicle exhaust emissions need to be taken.
Provisions of adequate treated water supply to the whole population remain the priority of national development. To safeguard the source, water catchment areas had been gazetted and designated as protected areas.
Pollution in the Brunei water is caused by direct disposal of solid waste and effluents. A pilot scheme for garbage collection was introduced in the 6th and 7th NDP. Thus, appropriate measures would be taken in the 8th NDP to ensure that these rivers remain clean.
Drainage systems without planning could cause flooding, and the cutting of hill slopes not in accordance with rules and guidelines could result in soil erosion and landslides. Consequently, the requirement for environmental impact assessment (EIA) was introduced in the 7th NDP to ensure all projects are implemented in compliance to the EIA requirement.
Urbanisation brings about social and economic challenges in the provision of recreational areas, parks and gardens, in maintaining the environment and cleanliness as well as in solid wastes collection and processing.
Specific areas are allocated in all districts for the purpose of garbage disposal. In the Brunei Muara District, the existing garbage disposal area is almost reaching its capacity and therefore, new area has yet to be identified.
Prospects And Programmes In The 8th NDP, 2001-2005
The sources and signs of pollution to the environment, either to air, land or to eco-system need to be monitored and acted upon. This is important as deterioration in the quality of the environment can affect the socio-economic development and threaten the safety, health and well-beings of the people. Therefore, steps to incorporate the environmental aspects, as stipulated in the EIA requirement, in national development process are crucial to ensure a sustainable socio-economic development.
To achieve this, the following initiatives were implemented in the 8th NDP (2001-2005);
Ensuring sustainable utilization of natural resources;
Preventing and reducing the negative impacts on the environment arising from increase in population and human activities
Ensuring a balance between socio-economic development objectives and the importance of maintaining quality and sustainable environment;
Enhancing the appropriate use of the latest, effective and environmentally friendly technology;
Strengthening the regulation and enforcement measures;
Enhancing public awareness and support; and
Improving the existing facilities and services
In the 8th NDP, the NES focused on the following activities;
Enhancing environmental awareness
Integrating environmental dimensions in socio-economic planning and development
Improving environmental assessment and natural resource system
Strengthening improvement programmes for urban and rural environments
Strengthening environmental quality
Protecting coastal and marine environmental resources
Strengthening regional and international cooperation
The National Environment Strategy had been approved by the National Committee for the Environment and the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Dipertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam. The major goals and actions of the strategy had been incorporated in the 8th National Development Plan. The total allocation for the implementation of environmental related projects is B$91.9m (US$54.1m) or 1.26% from the total development allocation for the 8th NDP(2001-2005).
d) Actions Adopted On Environmental Issues
A number of studies had been undertaken by the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Dipertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam either on its own or with support from international organisations such as the International Centre on Living Aquatic and Marine Resources (ICLARM), Manila and the ASEAN Secretariat. ICLARM had prepared two detailed reports - one on the Coastal Resources of Brunei Darussalam - Status, Utilization and Management and the other on the Integrated Management Plan for the Coastal Zone of Brunei Darussalam. Both these studies were extensively used in formulating the National Environment Strategy.
The Government had also prepared the Negara Brunei Darussalam Master Plan (NBDMP) in 1984 together with the sectoral reports. More recently, it has prepared several local development plans such as Kampong Ayer (Water Village) Improvement Plan, Bandar Seri Begawan Central Area Improvement Plan, Subok Ridge Heritage Work Plan etc. Very useful information on environmental quality was collected during the preparation of these plans.
At present monitoring and assessment of environmental parameters are not being undertaken by the government on a regular basis. Consequently, information on environmental quality of the country is inadequate. This report emphasises the urgent need for filling this information gap. In general terms, action plans and programmes should not be formulated in a situation either where specific information is lacking or where policy coordination is weak. However, of many reports produced by the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Dipertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam, for example the Coastal Resources of Brunei Darussalam - Status, Utilization and Management, and the Integrated Management Plan for the Coastal Zone of Brunei Darussalam, can be helpful for assessing the environmental situation. Nevertheless, the NES suggests some policy direction and provide constructive steps to build on. In the future, the recommendations will be refined as more information becomes available and as government clarifies and enforces more comprehensive policies and guidelines.
Despite many efforts which had been implemented, signs of threat and pressure on the environment still exist. Therefore, continuous attentions and actions need to be taken, and closer cooperation amongst all concerned be strengthened at national and regional levels. Consequently, this is one area of concerns to Audit Department.
However, as mentioned above, the environmental auditing is a relatively new area to Audit Department. Unfortunately, due to the department’s limited manpower, no expertise has been developed in environmental auditing and consequently, this area of audit has not been embarked. Nevertheless, environmental auditing is one potential area where Audit Department should gear our resources to in the near future.