Strategic Environmental Assessment
A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a systematic process for evaluating the environmental implications of a proposed policy, plan or programme and provides means for looking at cumulative effects and appropriately address them at the earliest stage of decision making alongside economic and social considerations.
The SEA assesses the extent to which a given policy, plan or programme:
- provides an adequate response to environmental and climate change–related challenges;
- may adversely affect the environment and climate resilience, and
- offers opportunities to enhance the state of the environment and contribute to climate-resilient and low-carbon development.
Ideally, an SEA should be integrated into the policy, plan or programme preparation process from its early stages and the Government must have a high degree of ownership. Public participation is also essential for a successful SEA.
Compared with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), SEA provides recommendations at a strategic level and allows a better control over interactions or cumulative effects. There is no single approach to SEA, which can take different forms according to the specific needs.
The main phases of an SEA are:
1. SEA Screening
Screening refers to the decision to undertake an SEA. SEAs are necessary for all policies, plans or programmes that, when implemented, are likely to produce significant negative impacts on the environment.
2. SEA Scoping
Scoping refers to the identification and clarification of issues to be addressed by the SEA. Scoping should take into consideration the concerns and value judgements of stakeholders, in order to ensure that these are addressed in the SEA Study.
3. SEA study
The SEA study provides the more detailed analysis of key issues and comprises several stages, such as the definition of the environmental baseline, the identification of environmental and climate change constraints and opportunities, the identification and assessment of the potential environmental impacts, an analysis of performance indicators, an appreciation of the institutional capacities to address the environmental and climate change challenges identified, and conclusions and recommendations.
Guidance and Reports on SEA
- SEA in EU development cooperation. A handful of tips to get it right! (November 2017)
- Evaluación Ambiental Estratégica en la cooperación internacional de la Unión Europea. ¡Consejos para lograr una EAE efectiva!
- EUROPEAID - booklet and guidance on SEA (April 2011)
- Model ToR for an SEA
- OECD - SEA Task Team website
- World Bank - SEA
- International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) - SEA
SEA in the European Union
- Directive 2001/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment
- DG ENVIRONMENT - Strategic Environmental Assessment
- UNECE Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (Kiev, 2003)
Examples of SEAs carried out by the EC per development sector
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