Legarda Calls on State Auditors to Protect Environment

September 30, 2014

Senator Loren Legarda today called on state auditors from all over the world to ensure accountability and judicious use of natural resources by leading an environmental audit in their respective nations, noting that the urban population of the world contributes to 80 percent of global carbon emissions.


Speaking at the Assembly Meeting of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions Working Group on Environmental Auditing (INTOSAI-WGEA), Legarda told 150 officials from audit institutions worldwide that there is a need to look at how nations are carrying out their commitments and implementing policies towards sustainability.


“Our ecosystems have been altered more rapidly in the name of development, but the poor have remained poor and their numbers are increasing notwithstanding the emergence of megacities and the increasing GDPs of nations. This only underscores the need to establish accountability for environmental issues,” said the UN Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific.


In the 24 ecosystem services examined during the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment between 2001-2005, 15 or approximately 60 percent were degraded or used unsustainably.


A report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on keeping track of the changing environment showed that half of the seven billion human population live in urban areas and account for 75 percent of global energy consumption as well as 80 percent of global carbon emissions.


Moreover, the global use of natural resource materials has already increased from 42 to almost 60 billion tons annually; the primary forest area has decreased by 300 million hectares since 1990; and global fish stocks continue to decline.


Legarda said that in the global effort to address environmental issues, numerous international instruments were passed such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).


At the local level, numerous laws have also been introduced not just to demand accountability for environmental issues but to also provide impetus to incorporate environmental concerns into planning and policy making.


“The presence of these international agreements and local laws, however, does not automatically guarantee results. This is the value that your organization brings. You have a key role in making this happen.  Somebody needs to look at these issues with an objective lens and with a keen eye for details. You need to train your skills on environmental matters as these affect the financial statements of government, businesses and even private individuals,” Legarda told members of the INTOSAI-WGEA.


Legarda has already proposed in the Senate for an environmental audit covering the performance of relevant national agencies and local government units in relation to their enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and compliance guidelines to identify where implementation can be supported and how to remove barriers to implementation.


She noted that the Commission on Audit, led by Chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan, has already taken on the enormous task of ensuring accountability and judicious use of government and public resources in the Philippines.


The COA has done an assessment of disaster risk reduction and management practices in the Philippines in light of the tragedy brought by Supertyphoon Yolanda. It showed that the country needs to do more in the area of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management. The level of disaster preparedness at the local level has improved, but much more needs to be done in the area of response and recovery efforts. There is also a need to adopt a “preventive” mindset by ensuring that building standards are strictly enforced so that better infrastructure and housing are built even before disasters strike.


“Environmental audit here in the Philippines and in other nations is a vital step in achieving our sustainable development goals. We need an audit not merely to know how well or how bad we are doing.  We need to audit to exact accountabilities and to establish environmental stewardship as a way of life,” said Legarda.