What is Strategic Environmental Assessment

January 22, 2019 Critical Thinking

What is Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA): Strategic environmental assessment is a organized process for evaluate
the green consequences of a planned policy, plan or programmed
Proposal in order to make sure they are fully included and suitably addressed
at the initial suitable stage of assessment making on per with economical and
Social consideration.IntroductionDevelopment assistance is increasingly being provided through strategic-level interventions, aimed to make aid more efficient. To ensure environmental consideration are taken into account in this new aid context, well-known environmental assessment tools at the project level need to be complemented by approach fully modified to policies, plans and programmes. Strategic Environmental Assessment, (SEA) meets this need.

SEA provides a useful and direct means of progressing MDG 7 on environmental sustainability (agreed at the UN General Assembly in 2000). This calls for the “addition of the principle of sustainable growth into state policies and programmes”. Secondly, SEA also helps additional the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation arranged at the World Summit, on Sustainable Development in 2002, which anxious the significance of “strategic frameworks and objective decision making for advancing the sustainable development agenda”.

The Paris statement on Aid Effectiveness, adopt in 2005, commits donors to reform the way in which aid is delivered to improve effectiveness, by harmonising their efforts and aligning behind partner countries’ priorities. It also calls upon donors and partners to work jointly to “build up and apply common approach for strategic environmental assessment at sector and national levels”.

This Guidance aims to respond to these challenges. Drawing on practical experience and established “good practice”, it points to ways to sustain the use of SEA in the formulation and evaluation of development policies, plans and programmes. In view of the great variety of circumstances across different countries, it seeks to provide a commonly- agreed and shared model that allows for flexibility in developing appropriate use of SEA to the variety of needs. It is obtainable in the circumstance of a rapidly emerging framework of international and national legislation on SEA in both developed and developing countries.

Understanding SEA
SEA refers to a variety of “analytical and participatory approaches that aim to join together environmental considerations into policy, plans and programme’s and assess the inter linkage with economical and communal considerations. SEA can be described as a family of approaches which use a diversity of tools, rather than a single, fixed and prescriptive approach. A good SEA is adapted and made to measure to the context in which it is applied. This can be consideration as a range of increasing integration: at one end of the range, the principle is to combine environment, along economic and social concern, into strategic decision make; at the other end, the stress is on the full combination of the ecological, social and economic factors into a holistic, sustainability assessment.

SEA is functional at the very initial stages of conclusion making both to help prepare policies, strategies and programme’s and to evaluate their prospective development effectiveness and sustainability. This distinguishes SEA from more traditional environmental assessment tools, such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which have a proven track record in addressing the environmental threats and opportunities of specific projects but are less easily applied to policies, plans and programmes. SEA is not a substitute for, but complements, EIA and other assessment approaches and tools.

The benefits of using SEA
Applying SEA to development co-operation has benefits for both decision-making procedures and development outcomes. It provides the environmental evidence to support more informed decision making, and to identify new opportunities by encouraging a systematic and thorough examination of development options. SEA helps to ensure that the prudent management of natural resources and the environment provide the foundations for sustainable economic growth which, in turn, support political stability. SEA can also assist in building stakeholder engagement for improved governance, facilitate trans-boundary co-operation around shared environmental resources, and contribute to conflict prevention.

Towards good practice in SEA
SEA is a continuous, iterative and adaptive process focused on strengthening institutions and governance. It is not a separate system, nor a simple linear, technical approach. Instead, it adds value to existing country systems and reinforces their effectiveness by assessing and building capacity for institutions and environmental management systems.

Where SEA is applied to plans and programmes, a structured approach to integrating environmental considerations can be used. Key stages for carrying out an SEA on the level of plans or programmes include: establish the context, responsibility the needed investigation with appropriate stakeholders, informing and influencing decision making, and monitoring and evaluation. SEA applied at the policy level requires a particular focus on the political, institutional and governance context underlying decision-making processes
Application of SEA in development co-operation
The shift of emphasis away from development projects to programme and policy support has created a number of particular entry points for the application of SEA. This guidance outlines the benefits of using SEA in a range of different circumstances, and sets out 12 key “entry points” for effective application of SEA to development co-operation. It points to key questions to be addressed for each of them, accompanied by specific checklists of these questions, and illustrative case examples.

The entry points for SEA can be grouped into:
Strategic planning processes led by a developing country: These include national overarching strategies, programmes and plans; national policy reform and financial plan support programmes; sectoral policies, plans and programmes; infrastructure savings plans and programmes; nationwide and sub-national spatial growth plans and programmes and global plans and programmes.

Development agencies’ own processes: These include donors’ country assistance strategies and plans; partnership agreements with other donor agencies, donors’ sector-specific policies, and donor-supported public-private infrastructure support facilities and programmes.

Other related circumstances: These include independent Review commission and major private sector-led projects and plans.

How to evaluate an SEA
The key deliverable, of an SEA is a process with development outcomes, not a product. Quality control therefore considers how well procedures have been carried out. But in the long term, the success of development outcome, while ensuring the upholding of environmental sustainability, will be the key measure of success.

When review SEA processes, key questions anxiety: the quality of information, level of stakeholder participation, distinct objectives of the SEA, judgment of environmental impacts, planned summarize actions, and constraints.

Key questions to help evaluators, focus on development outcomes of an SEA relate to: the accurateness of assumptions made throughout the SEA; its manipulate on the PPP process, on the execution process, on development goals and on accountability; and the outcome of capacity-building activities.

Developing the capacity for effective use of SEA
Experiences of applying SEA have repeatedly highlighted two key challenges: lack of awareness of the value and importance of SEA, and, when the value is appreciated, lack of knowledge on how to implement SEA. These challenges can be significantly addressed by capacity development for SEA in both development agencies and associate countries.

For capability development in associate countries, a capacity needs assessment is the first step. Support involves activities such as technical training, awareness-raising workshops, supporting the institutionalization of the SEA process and its evaluation systems, and networking for sharing experiences.

Legal requirements for SEA
This direction is accessible in the context of an up-and-coming framework of international and nationwide legislation on SEA in both developed and developing countries. Two significant international instruments now set down the application of SEA. Firstly, the European Directive on the evaluation of the Effects, of convinced Plans and Programmes on the Environment, known as the SEA Directive, came into effect in 2004 and applies to all 25 associate states of the European Union. It requires an environmental measurement for convinced plans and programmes at various levels that are likely to have important special effects on the environment. Secondly, a similar stipulation is controlled in the SEA procedure to the Espoo Convention (UNECE Convention on EIA in a Tran’s boundary Context), agreed in Kiev in May 2003. The Protocol includes a separate article hopeful the use of SEA in the circumstance of policies and legislation. It will become effective once ratify by at least 16 countries.

Many developed and rising countries have either national legislative or other provision for SEA, e.g. statutory instruments, filing cabinet and ministerial decisions, circulars and advice notes. A number of EU countries had such provisions even previous to the above- mentioned SEA Directive taking effect. Several non-EU European countries also have legal necessities to apply SEA. The EU attainment process for candidate countries, as well as approval of the SEA Protocol to the Espoo Convention, is likely to make comparable legal requirements more widespread. In Canada, there is an administrative requirement to conduct SEA on all PPPs through a Cabinet Level Directive. In the USA, programmatic environmental evaluation is requisite for large projects and programmes.

Safeguarding environmental assets for sustainable
development and Poverty reduction
SEA enhance the prediction of protection the environment and the natural systems that are the critical foundations for human health and livelihood. The world’s poor depend most directly and heavily on natural resources both for survival and profits opportunities. Aim to ensure environmental sustainability, is a cornerstone on which strategy to reduce poverty must be built. Yet the actuality is that the “environmental assets of deprived household are under severe and increasing stress. SEA offers a systematic process to avoid or minimize adverse impacts on the environment and to enhance resource opportunities
Basic principles for SEA
To be influential and help improve policy-making, planning and decision-taking, an SEA should:
Establish clear goals.

Be incorporated with obtainable policy and planning structures.

Be supple and customised to context.

Examine the possible effects and risks of the proposed PPP, and its alternatives, against a structure of sustainability objectives, principles and criteria.

Provide explicit justification for the choice of preferred option and for the approval of significant trade-offs.

Deal with the linkage and trade-offs between environmental, communal and financial consideration.

Involve key stakeholders and encourage public involvement.

Include an effective, preferably independent, quality assurance system.

Be transparent right through the process, and converse the results.

Be cost-effective.

Build capacity for both undertaking and using SEA.In designing efective SEA approaches, practitioners need to be conscious of the following:
Planning is not linear, but a complicated process influenced by interest groups with conflicting interests and different agendas; it is therefore important to look for “window of opportunity”.

Associations between alternative options and environmental belongings are often indirect; so they need to be frame in terms relevant to all stakeholders (e.g. politicians, government agencies and interest groups). One way of doing this is by linkage environmental special effects to their specific policy priorities.

While the SEA Directive specifies where an SEA is compulsory, it also identifies circumstances under which an SEA may be required but is not necessarily compulsory. Where those plans and programmes identified in only cover small areas at local level or minor modifications, they only require an SEA. Although not legally binding, according to the European Commission SEA Guidance document the definition of “project” in the EIA Directive would apply. As noted in 0, fishing activities would arguably qualify as projects under the EIA Directive definition as “interventions in the natural surroundings”.

Given that fishing activities arguably qualify as projects under the SEA Directive, any plans and programmes that set the framework for permitting or restricting fishing would need to be screened to assess whether the activities have a significant impact on the environment.

SEA in Developing Countries:
Developing countries have limited SFA experience to date, particularly outside the context of programs and plans financed by international aid. However, there are clear signs that SFA is being studied with growing interest in many countries and some, such as South Africa, Indonesia, Chile, Colombia, and Brazil, are already developing policies or guidelines on SFA. Indeed, some of the most interesting applications of SFA have been undertaken in developing countries.

Issues related to honesty, democracy, and governance may also manipulate the rate at which SFA systems are being or will be implemented. For example, in political systems that rely on closed and no participatory traditions, it is hard to conceive of Cabinet decisions or the legislative proposal of government department being open to public scrutiny as part of an SFA (Thérivel and Partidário 1996).

Therivel, R. (2004), Strategic Environmental Assessment in Action, Earthscan: London, contains an Appendix with SEA prediction and evaluation techniques. It covers expert judgement, quality of life assessment, overlay maps, land use partitioning analysis, geographical information systems, network analysis, modelling, scenario/sensitivity analysis, cost- benefit analysis, multi-criteria analysis, life cycle analysis, vulnerability analysis, carrying capacity, ecological footprint, risk assessment, and compatibility appraisal.

Rauschmayer, F. and N. Risse (2005), A Framework for the Selection of Participatory Approaches for SEA, Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 25(6): 650-666, covers: mediation, mediated modelling, consensus conference, citizens’ juries and co-operative discourse.

Finnveden, G., M. Nilsson, J. Johansson, A. Persson, A. Moberg and T. Carlsson (2005), Strategic Environmental Assessment methodologies – Applications within the Energy Sector, Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 23(1): 91-123. This paper covers: future studies, LCA, environmentally extended input/output analysis, risk assessment of chemicals and accidents, impact pathway approach, ecological impact assessment, multiple attribute analysis, environmental objectives, economic valuation, surveys, and valuation methods based on mass, energy and area.

hérivel, R. 1997. “Strategic Fnvironmental As- sessment in Central Furope.” lmpact Assess- ment anb Pro¡ect AppraisaK 12(3).
Partidário, M. R. 1994. “Key Issues in Strategic Fnvironmental Assessment.” NA†O/FFARO (unpublished report).