Strengthening of external financial control in the environmental field

Project description

Title: Strengthening of external financial control in the environmental field
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Brazil
Lead executing agency: Tribunal de Contas da União (TCU)
Overall term: 2016 to 2020

Brazil: Audits of administrative action are expected to lead to improved measures for protecting biological diversity and adapting to climate change. © Werner Rudhart/GIZ


Environmental and climate policies require comparatively complex governance structures because the state has to take cross-sectoral action to implement them. Conflicting objectives for economic growth, environmental protection and social development make it difficult to carry out environmental measures and to achieve sustainable development goals. One of the pillars of environmental governance is effective financial control of public expenditure by audit institutions. 

External financial control on issues relating to the environment is complex due to the intricate governance structures involved. Brazil’s Federal Court of Accounts (Tribunal de Contas da União – TCU) and the other 21 members of the Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Supreme Audit Institutions (Organización Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Entidades Fiscalizadoras Superiores – OLACEFS) help to conserve ecosystems, most notably by carrying out environmental audits. However, the institutional and technical capacity of these bodies to conduct such audits and to institutionalise them is still very limited.


Brazil’s supreme audit institution and related institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean perform their task of auditing administrative action in the environmental field more effectively. 


The project is being implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It operates in three fields of activity:

  • Stronger auditing tools at TCU: 
    Innovative models, methods and instruments are adapted and refined for environmental audits. Overarching aspects of sustainable development are also integrated into the audits. 
  • Improved cooperation among OLACEFS members and an expanded range of services offered: 
    Measures such as coordinated audits, peer reviews, seminars and workshops are adapted in terms of content and methodology for monitoring governance in the environmental sector. In addition, the project aims to introduce innovations as regards conducting audits jointly with other audit institutions in Latin America.
  • Strengthening audit institutions in their internal and external communications with stakeholders: 
    A strategy that takes due account of the individual target groups is being developed, with the aim of delivering positive results in environmental policy and in the overall social situation.
Mexico: XXVth General Assembly of OLACEFS, Querétaro, 2015.  © GIZ


The project contributes to cooperation between Germany and Brazil in the area of sustainable development. In addition to supporting environmental audits and administrative action on the part of the state for ecosystem and biodiversity conservation, the project encourages climate change mitigation and adaptation and promotes sustainable resource use.

It gives particular consideration to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Auditors are made aware of the importance of the 2030 Agenda as a cross-cutting issue and are given tools and insights on how to audit the Agenda implementation.

The project has promoted initiatives in the area of the strategic interests of the supreme audit institutions of Latin America and the Caribbean, including by way of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). It has also supported the introduction of new technologies (such as the analysis of thematic geodata and georeferencing for the governance of transboundary matters) for sharing methods and expertise. These approaches promise a considerable gain in terms of efficiency.

The project has also supported the conceptual planning of a programme to develop and foster the skills of OLACEFS members. One result of this has been to make key decision-makers within TCU and OLACEFS aware of how to communicate the audit results and their implementation in a manner that is appropriate for the target group.