The environmental impacts of development can rarely be predicted with certainty. The precise levels of uncertainty – the confidence limits on predictions of various types – are important in development decisions and environmental management programmes. Retrospective review of predicted and actual impacts is termed environmental audit.
By testing the predictions made in environmental impact assessment (EIA), environmental audit shows where and how predictions fail, and enables the refinement and improvement of scientific understanding and predictive models. It benefits industry by improving operations: the process of environmental audit enables companies and other development agencies to review the performance of their past and present environmental management systems, and revise and improve them accordingly. Environmental audit provides feedback to governments which helps (1) regulating operations; (2) monitoring ongoing environmental management; and (3) ensuring compliance with standards. For the public, the benefit of environmental audit, if published in a systematic and regular way, is as an indicator of government performance.
So called "economic externalities", which cause damage to ecosystems, are growing faster than those which generate "economic value". The term externalities does not do justice to the internal impact. What is happening is that we are losing "natural capital". We are losing social values as people and systems have to be protected with more and more regulations from externalities like pollution. We are impoverishing culture and cultural development as resources have to be primarily invested in survival strategies.