Strategic Environmental Assessment

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 the European Union

Examples of SEAs carried out by the EC per development sector

Sector Country Document title
Agriculture Bolivia

Evaluación Ambiental Estratégica de la Estrategia de Desarrollo Integral Sustentable con Coca (ENDISC). Informe final -- Resumen ejecutivo

Aquaculture and Fisheries Cambodia Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Strategic Planning Framework for Fisheries in Cambodia
Agriculture and Food Security Burkina Faso Evaluation Environnementale et Sociale Stratégique - Programme de Sécurité Alimentaire et Nutritionnelle.
Agriculture and Food Security Rwanda SEA of the Agricultural Sector in Rwanda.
Agriculture Swaziland SEA of the 11th EDF Programme's Focal Sector Agriculture in Swaziland
Climate change Montenegro Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of Montenegro’s National Climate Change Strategy
Climate change Montenegro Strateška procjena uticaja na životnu sredinu za Nacionalnu strategiju u oblasti klimatskih promjena u Crnoj Gori
Energy Rwanda Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Energy Sector Policy in Rwanda.
Industrial development Democratic Republic of the Congo Evaluation Environnementale Stratégique (EES) de l’exploration/exploitation pétrolière dans le nord du Rift Albertin (Provinces du Nord-Kivu et de l’Orientale) Phase 1: Etude de cadrage.
Infrastructure Guyana SEA of the Sea Defences Sector Policy in Guyana.
Sugar sector reform Guyana SEA of the implementation of the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol Countries affected by the reform of the EU Sugar Regime in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
Sugar sector reform Jamaica SEA of the Implementation of the Multi-annual Adaptation Strategy of the Sugar Industry 2006-2015 of Jamaica
Sugar sector reform Malawi SEA of the Sugar Sector in Malawi
Sugar sector reform Mauritius SEA of the Implementation of the Multi-annual Strategy for the Mauritian Sugarcane cluster (2006-2015)
Sugar sector reform Swaziland SEA of the National Adaptation Strategy to the EU Sugar Reform, Swaziland.
Sugar sector reform Trinidad & Tobago SEA of the implementation of the National Sugar Adaptation Strategy for Trinidad & Tobago.
Sugar sector reform Zambia Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Sugar Sector in Zambia.
Transport Ghana SEA of the Transport Integration Plan of Ghana.
Transport Mali Evaluation Environnementale Stratégique du Projet d’Appui au Programme Sectoriel des Transports au Mali (PAPS).
Waste management Montenegro Strateška procjena uticaja na životnu sredinu za Nacionalnu strategiju u oblasti klimatskih promjena u Crnoj Gori (Montenegrin)
Waste management Montenegro

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the National Waste Management Plan in Montenegro




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last update
29 November 2021

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