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The 55th ASOSAI Governing Board virtual meeting took place successfully under the chairmanship of the SAV, the ASOSAI Chairman for the 2018 – 2021 term. Sharing with the press after the meeting, the Auditor General of Vietnam, Dr. Ho Duc Phoc affirmed that the SAV as Chairman of ASOSAI has been step by step making efforts to take on the leading role of ASOSAI in successfully completing the goals of the Strategic Plan during the period 2018 – 2021 and commitments stated in Hanoi Declaration on the environmental audit for sustainable development and sustainable development goals.

SAV’s Auditor General Ho Duc Phoc, Chairman of the ASOSAI for 2018 – 2021 tenure

♦ Excellency Mr Auditor General, could you please tell us the achievements of the SAV after the half-term implementation of the role as Chairman of ASOSAI? What does the 55th ASOSAI Governing Board Meeting mean to ASOSAI as a whole and its members in particular amid the complicated COVID-19 epidemic in many Asian countries today?

Nearly 2 years after it assumed the post, the SAV has made significant important in the leading role of ASOSAI Governing Board and all its member SAIs to achieve common goals set in the ASOSAI Strategic Plan during the 14th ASOSAI Assembly, especially for the implementation of commitments stated in Hanoi Declaration on the environmental audit for sustainable development and sustainable development goals.

Specifically, apart from reviewing activities conducted since the 54th ASOSAI Governing Board Meeting, its members also discussed and reached an agreement on many important issues of the ASOSAI such as: Capacity development and ASOSAI’s cooperation with regional organizations; ASOSAI Strategic Plan for 2022 – 2027; Work Plan of Working Group on Environmental Audit during 2020 – 2022, including 02 cooperative audits on sustainable transportation and water issues in Mekong River Basin in some ASEANSAI members and 01 research project on climate change.

The Governing Board also agreed to continuously extend the term of ASOSAI Secretary General (SAI China) for the period of 2021 – 2024.

The 55th Governing Board virtual meeting was a great success with the completion of all 24 agenda items. Especially, at the meeting, the member SAIs focused on discussing many new issues, including the establishment of the ASOSAI Working Group on SDGs. This is a pioneer decision of ASOSAI, among 7 INTOSAI Regional Working Group, to implement the INTOSAI strategic objectives towards achievement of sustainable development goals.

In addition, the Governing Board shared many initiatives, approaches, methods and action plans for supporting member SAIs to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Accordingly, the Governing Board proposed to establish a working group on managing the emerging issues related to global pandemic, especially the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. This is an example to reaffirm the organisation’s and its members’ responsibility, capacity and role in addressing the regional emerging issues.

It can be said that in the context that the COVID-19 epidemic is still spreading at a dizzying pace throughout the world, the ASOSAI and all individual SAIs have actively adjusted their operations by applying information technology in organizing the meetings, workshops and training courses.  This helps to carry out the planned activities in an effective manner and at the same time, demonstrates proactive precausions of ASOSAI and its members in response to COVID-19 outbreak in the Industry 4.0 era.

♦ Could you please tell us, what are the initiatives and actions taken by the SAV in order to implement Hanoi Declaration?

After nearly 2 years in the role of ASOSAI Chairman for 2018 – 2021, the SAV has demonstrated its leading role in guiding 47 member SAIs, especially 12 ones of the Governing Board to achieve the goals of the Strategic Plan during 2018 – 2021 and implement the commitments stated in Hanoi Declaration on environmental audit for sustainable development and sustainable development goals.

Furthermore, the SAV took the initiative to request the ASOSAI Governing Board to vote on approval of the ASOSAI cooperative environmental audit in Southeast Asia during the period of 2020 – 2021 with the topic “Audit the water resource management in the Mekong River Basin in line with the implementation of sustainable development goals”. This initiative aims to propose the governments of Mekong River Basin countries to manage water resources, contributing to ensure a healthy life for hundreds of millions of residents and national sustainable socio-economic development.

Recognizing the importance of environmental protection for national and regional sustainable development and in order to demonstrating the SAV’s role and responsibility in environmental protection, the SAV has been concentrating its resources on conducting environmental audits with the diversified topics of forest, land, fresh water management, waste disposal, mineral exploration, low-carbon transition. Environmental audit is also a focus of concern of the SAV included in its development strategy until 2030.

In addition, the SAV has initiated and presided over the conduct of documentary film “ASOSAI for sustainable development” expected to be shown at the 15th ASOSAI Assembly in 2021 in Thailand; sent its report and video clip “the SAV: Environmental auditing for a green planet” to participate in the Green Vision Award established by the ASOSAI Working Group on Environmental Audit (WGEI) with an aim at encouraging and promoting environmental protection and environmental auditing activities in the ASOSAI community according to multiple criteria: positivity, creativity, technological innovation, focus on SDGs and contributions to the region.

It can be said that with concrete and practical initiatives and activities, the SAV together with member SAIs has clearly demonstrated its responsibility in promoting the successful implementation of the Hanoi Declaration as well as the UN’s SDGs and addressing global environmental challenges. It will help the SAV to fulfil its mission and role of ASOSAI Chairman for the term 2018 – 2021.

♦ May you, Excellency Mr Auditor General please provide more information on the cooperative audit with the topic “Audit the water resource management in the Mekong River Basin in line with the implementation of sustainable development goals”?

Currently, the world and the region are facing enormous challenges on climate change and environmental pollution. Especially, in recent years, the lands in the lower Mekong River Basin are facing the risk of water insecurity with the increase of drought, saltwater intrusion, landslides, storm surges...due to climate change, less rainfall, reduction of river flows. 

Mekong River is one of 12 largest rivers in the world with a total length of nearly 5,000 km, flowing through 6 countries including Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Especially, located at the end of the Mekong River Basin, Vietnam is currently experiencing the direct negative effects of water resource management. For example, the increase of upstream hydropower dam projects on exploiting and using water both on the mainstream and tributaries is also a main cause of major river flow changes, affecting the downstream area of Mekong River. This will lead to a variety of negative impacts upon lives of dozens of millions of people living in the Mekong River Basin and socio-economic development of relevant countries.

Mainly stemming from that fact, as the ASOSAI Chairman for 2018-2021 and an active member of the ASOSAI WGEA, the SAV proposed the implementation of the cooperative audit on water resources-related topics in the Mekong River Basin during 2020 – 2021. The cooperative audit is expected to provide analysis, evaluation and solutions for the sustainable development of living environment of nations around the Mekong River Basin.

Therefore, after consulting the competent authorities and Party and State leaders, the SAV proposed ASOSAI members, especially Governing Board ones for their support in the audit of Mekong River Basin water resource management. When raising this issue, the SAV has received concensus of SAIs of Malaysia and Thailand. At the 55th ASOSAI Governing Board Meeting, 12 members and 2 observers approved the proposal of conducting the cooperative audit.

Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the kick-off meeting for the cooperative audit is expected to be held online in the fourth quarter of 2020. The remaining activities such as training, sharing experiences for participating SAIS, the conduct of the audit shall be implemented in 2021.

Especially, after the completion of the cooperative audit, an audit review workshop will be organized with the participation of ASOSAI members, organizations and research institutes in the field of environment and sustainable development and  leading international experts. This is an opportunity for SAIs to share not only the results and recommendations of the cooperative audit but also international experiences and best practices on environmental and sustainable development goal auditing./.

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