Environmental Auditing and the Role of the Accountancy Profession: A Literature Review
P. DE MOOR
I. DE BEELDE
This review of the literature on environmental auditing and the potential role of accountants distinguishes between compliance audits and audits of the environmental management system. After an extensive introduction to the concept, this review focuses on the similarities and differences between an environmental audit and a financial statement audit. Except that environmental audits are largely unregulated, the general approach to both types of audits is similar. Both audits place an emphasis on the evaluation of control systems, which is an argument in favor of external auditors playing a role in environmental audits. Another argument for including external accountants, is their code of ethics. However, these professionals seem to be reluctant to enter the field of environmental auditing. It is argued that this reluctance is because of a lack of generally accepted principles for conducting environmental audits. If external accountants are engaged in environmental auditing, they should be part of multidisciplinary teams that also include scientists and engineers to avoid a too strong focus on procedures. Rather than treating these audits as totally different, it is proposed that there be a move towards integrated, or even universal, audits.
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