Environmental Audit is a systematic and documented verification process, used to provide objective evidence that certain activities, conditions and environmental management systems comply with the criteria set by the audit, and to communicate the results achieved during this process.
targets of an Environmental Audit are:
establishing the conformity to a standard (ISO 14001 or EMAS);
improving compliance with mandatory laws;
pursuing continuous improvement of environmental performance;
identifying potential problems;
determining whether the management system adopted is properly implemented and maintained
The reference standard that provides guidelines for proper management of the audit process is ISO 19011.
Depending on the client, the objective and scope are distinguished:
audits required the organization itself to review the status of implementation and the effectiveness of its EMS and its processes;
second-party audit performed by an organization towards its suppliers, both in the preliminary (pre-contract), both during the delivery (post-contract);
third-party audit performed by an "independent third party" and aimed at verifying the compliance with the requirements of specific rules providing for the issuance of such certification.
A systematic check carried out by the audit allows to minimize risk, provide a warranty to stakeholders (shareholders, employees, management, customers) and to define clear priorities for achieving compliance, reducing risk and improving processes.