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Introduction to Strategic Environmental Assessment


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The Purpose, Principles and Process of SEA

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Introduction to Strategic Environmental Assessment

  1. 1. Introduction to Strategic Environmental Assessment - SEA Purpose, Principles and Process 1 ICEM - International Centre for Environmental Management
  2. 2. Main points to be covered • The aims and scope of SEA • Major trends and challenges • Principles of good practice • Steps and elements of the SEA process • Emerging directions 2
  3. 3. Some commonly asked questions • What is SEA, what is it used for? • Why is it important, what is the valued added? • How does SEA relate to EIA, what are the similarities and differences? • What are the basic principles and steps of SEA? • Who does what in SEA, how long does it take? ( for discussion with Vietnamese participants) 3
  4. 4. What is SEA? • Systematic, open process of analyzing the impact of policies, plans, programs and other strategic initiatives on the environment • Undertaken to ensure that environmental considerations are taken into account and integrated into decision-making in support of sustainable development • Applied to all strategic proposals that have a potentially significant impact on the environment • Because these relatively diverse, SEA approaches are more diverse than EIA although the same basic principles apply 4
  5. 5. Why is SEA important? • EIA typically does not cover higher level decisions, including those that determine type/location of projects • SEA focuses on the upstream source of environmental problems not just their downstream impacts • In doing so, responds to sustainable development agenda, e.g. WSSD and MDG 7 to ensure environmental sustainability • Emphasis of international lending and cooperation is changing from projects to policy-based and budgetary support, sector programming, regional planning etc 5
  6. 6. How does SEA add value? • Ensures critical resource and environmental assets are protected • Supports sustainable development and poverty alleviation, e.g. in reinforcing MDG 7 which underpins all others • Identifies development opportunities and potentials that otherwise might be missed, e.g by thorough examination of options • Prevents costly mistakes and avoids risks by eliminating environmentally damaging options and taking account of cumulative impacts at an early stage in decision-making • Streamlines and focuses any follow-on SEA or EIA process by: - clarification of scope and context - reducing the time and effort needed for review 6
  7. 7. Wider or secondary benefits of SEA • Provides a means of ‘mainstreaming’ the environment across all levels and sectors of decision-making • Builds environmental accountability in development agencies • As a systematic, evidence-based approach, SEA helps to improve the quality of policy and plan-making • Procedural requirements of SEA help to strengthen good governance and the credibility of decision-making • Public and stakeholder engagement promote greater transparency and openness in decision-making and help to build civil society 7
  8. 8. SEA IN RELATION TO EIA SEA EIA Policy Plan Programme Projects 8
  9. 9. • Takes place at end of decision- making cycle • Well-defined process, clear beginning and end • Reacts to specific development proposal • Detailed, cause-effect analysis of the impact of project components • Considers limited range of feasible alternatives (how to carry out projects) • Limited opportunity to address cumulative impacts at project level • Emphasis on mitigating and minimising impacts • Focus on do no/least harm SEA and EIA compared • Takes place at earlier stages of decision-making cycle • Multi-stage process with variations e.g. policy v plans/programmes • Pro-active, out-in-front approach to development proposals • Broad level of analysis, e.g. focus on cross-sector links and issues • Considers potentially wide range of development alternatives • Gives early warning of cumulative impacts (sector or region wide) • Emphasis on meeting goals and safeguards for the environment • Focus on ‘do most good’ SEA EIA 9
  10. 10. Key trends in SEA (1) • SEA still at a relatively early stage of development • Three main stages in process evolution 1) early, formative phase to 1990, limited use of SEA 2) wider adoption, greater differentiation 1990 -2001 3) toward standardization and extension, 2001 onwards • EC Directive (2001) and UNECE SEA Protocol (2003) established new international legal regime • EIA-based procedure applied to plans/ programs 10
  11. 11. Key trends in SEA (2) • Today, approx 50 countries are estimated to have some provision for SEA with increasing number of developing countries • Several different procedural models, e.g. EIA-based, appraisal- type approaches, integrated assessment, SEA-like approaches (para SEA) • Some countries have different SEA systems for policies and regulations compared to plans and programmes • New generation of SEA and SEA-type processes applied by international agencies and donors • New OECD Guidance to harmonise these approaches in accordance with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness 11
  12. 12. Key principles of SEA good practice (1) Aspirational - not necessarily always practised • Integrated -- with existing policy frameworks and planning structures (not stand-alone, + to help improve both over time) • Adaptive – customized to context and issues at stake • Relevant – focus on the potential impacts and risks that matter (don’t study everything) • Examine alternatives + evaluate significance of impacts for each one • Proactive – be forward-looking, and look for environmental gains and opportunities as well as constraints 12
  13. 13. Key principles of SEA good practice (2) • Sustainability oriented – consider linkages and trade- offs among environmental, social and economic considerations • transparent -- clear, easy to understand requirements • participative -- provides for input from all stakeholders, including public involvement • accountable -- implemented fairly, impartially and professionally and in accordance with designated responsibilities • cost-effective -- meets objectives within time and budget limits 13
  14. 14. Some factors to help achieve initial success in SEA practice • Promote SEA as a bonus not a burden • Tailor the approach to the needs of clients • Provide as much start-up help as possible • Use the simplest procedures and methods consistent with the task • Learn by doing and build a knowledge base from case experience • Pilot and demonstrate – don’t try and apply it comprehensively all at once 14
  15. 15. Main steps in the SEA process (1) • PRELIMINARY STEPS  Screening to determine whether or not an SEA is needed and at what level  Scoping to identify key issues and alternatives, set objectives and develop terms of reference for SEA  Identification of alternatives, including no action • CONTINUES THROUGHOUT  Identify and carry out defined roles & responsibilities  Inform and involve the public – to identify the views and concerns held by stakeholders  Scoping can also be applied at regular points in the SEA 15
  16. 16. SEA steps (continued) • DETAILED ASSESSMENT  Analyse and evaluate the impacts to identify the significant effects of selected alternatives and measures for mitigation and follow-up  Report to provide the information for decision-making  Review the quality of the information to ensure it is clear, sufficient and relevant to the decision being taken • FOLLOW-UP  Undertake follow up to check on implementation, and track any arrangements for subsidiary SEA or EIA.  Monitoring and review to see if outcomes are as expected 16
  17. 17. Quick screening guide to check if SEA is needed • Is the proposal known to have environmental effects, e.g. energy, transport, housing? • Does the proposal involve or relate to issues known to be environmentally significant?, eg:  use of resources (energy, land, water)?  waste or pollution (including CO2 emissions)? • Does the proposal initiate actions that will have evident and direct environmental effects? If yes, an EIA-based approach may be suitable • Alternatively, does the proposal raise broad environmental issues, or is it likely to have indirect effects? If yes, environmental appraisal may be appropriate. This is particularly likely for broad policies 17
  18. 18. Key challenges for SEA • Being accepted at senior and decision-making levels and adopted for use • Assessing cumulative impacts • Addressing cross-boundary & trans-national issues • SEA at the policy level (how to integrate with political functions, and processes?) • Integrating with planning and across sectors • Effective public & stakeholder participation 18
  19. 19. Future directions – strengthening the family of approaches Env SEA Social Econ Econ Social Env Econ Env Social Increasing integration of environmental, social and economic considerations Social assessment tools Economic assessment tools 19
  20. 20. RESPONSE FROM PARTICIPANTS • Based on this presentation – how does it relate:  In general to Vietnamese experience and to the legislation on SEA?  Specifically to roles & responsibilities for implementing the required processes and doing SEA? 20