On March 16, 2021, the Law No. ZRU-678 “On Environmental Audit” was adopted (Hereinafter – “the Law”), which defines such an audit as a systematic, documentary, independent assessment of economic and other activities for compliance with the requirements of regulatory documents in the field of technical regulation and regulations on environmental protection and reasonable use of natural resources.
An environmental audit is not a substitute for environmental inspection; however, in case of a positive conclusion of the audit, an business entity is not subject to an inspection by the State Committee on Ecology for one year, except for accidents and emergencies, as well as in connection with the investigation of criminal cases or by order of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan or the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
The Law sets out the following main features of an environmental audit:
First, an environmental audit can be carried out on a voluntary form by businesses with low or insignificant (local) risk of environmental impact or on a mandatory form on an annual basis for businesses with high and medium risk of environmental impact.
Second, there are the following requirements for the environmental audit report:
- It shall contain recommendations on the elimination of identified non-compliances and on the improvement of environmental protection measures;
- It is a confidential document and is not subject to disclosure without the consent of the environmental audit customer.
Third, environmental audit organizations can be established and carry out their activities in any organizational and legal form, except for joint-stock companies, and they are subject to state registration at the Public Services Agency under the Ministry of Justice.
Environmental audit organizations cannot be established by state and administrative bodies, or by local state authorities.
Fourth, the following requirements are established for an environmental auditor:
- Citizenship of Uzbekistan;
- Having higher education in a relevant field;
- Work experience in the field of environmental protection or related fields for not less than three years in a row;
- Qualification certificate for an environmental auditor.
An environmental auditor has the right to carry out the declared activity only in one environmental audit organization.
Fifth, the official website of the State Committee on Ecology provides registers of environmental audit organizations and auditors.
The Law also defines the rights and obligations of an environmental audit organization, auditor, customer and the subject of environmental audit, the responsibility of an audit organization, and the restrictions on carrying out environmental audits.
The Law comes into force on March 16, 2022.