Strategic Environmental Assessment in Development Practice

Strategic Environmental Assessment in Development Practice

A Review of Recent Experience You do not have access to this content

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14 Feb 2012
9789264166745 (PDF) ;9789264166738(print)

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The principles of sustainable development play an integral role in making development assistance work at the level of policies, plans and programmes. In response to the  Paris Declaration call to "… develop and apply common approaches for ‘Strategic Environmental Assessment’ at sector and national levels" among donors and partners, the Guidance on Applying Strategic Environmental Assessment was endorsed in 2006 by members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee, representatives of developing countries receiving aid, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Bank and many other agencies. Since then, a growing number of countries at all levels of development have legislation or regulations prescribing the application of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)  and many more are introducing it as part of their policy tools. This is creating unique opportunities for better policy making and planning by incorporating environmental considerations into high-level decision-making and opening new mechanisms to build consensus on development priorities within governments themselves and between governments and societies.

Many development co-operation agencies and their partners are already making good progress in applying SEA. This publication presents the nine most interesting case studies of SEA in progress, selected from a total 100.  These nine cases highlight that SEA can:
• Safeguard environmental assets for sustainable poverty reduction and development;
• Build public engagement in decision making;
• Prevent costly mistakes by alerting decision-makers to potentially unsustainable development options at an early stage in the decision-making process;
• Speed up implementation of projects and programmes;
• Facilitate co-operation around shared environmental resources and contribute to conflict prevention.

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  • Mark Click to Access
  • Foreword and Acknowledgements
  • Acronyms
  • Executive summary
    This report has three objectives: Firstly, it illustrates how SEAs can be applied in development co-operation by presenting nine detailed case studies. Secondly, it reviews the outcome of these nine SEAs by examining how the SEA process changed original policies, plans and programmes. Finally, it concludes with lessons that can be learned from these case studies, for future practice.
  • Policy Statement on Strategic Environmental Assessment
    Poor people in developing countries are often the first to suffer from the results of poor policy, planning or investment decisions which undermine development and lead to resource degradation. The quality of development policy and planning processes will affect the long-term success of development and play a significant part in our progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The seventh MDG, in particular, commits us to ensuring environmental sustainability by making the principles of sustainable development an integral part of our policies and programmes.
  • Introduction
    This report has three objectives: Firstly, it illustrates how SEAs can be applied in development co-operation by presenting nine detailed case studies. Secondly, it reviews the outcome of these nine SEAs by examining how the SEA process changed original policies, plans and programmes. Finally, it concludes with lessons that can be learned from these case studies, for future practice
  • SEA in developing countries
    This chapter aims to provide an overview of the most recent uptake of SEA in developing countries. Nine case studies that follow this chapter present a good range of application of SEA in developing countries, but do not reflect the sharp increase in SEA application in developing countries since 2009. SEA is one mainstreaming approach that has played a valuable part in integrating environmental considerations into key policy documents, such as Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), as well as strategies and budgets for key economic sectors.
  • Vietnam: Strategic Environmental Assessment on the Quang Nam Hydropower Plan
    In 2005, with the passing of the revised Law on Environmental Protection (LEP), a new era in environmental assessment in Vietnam commenced, with the introduction of requirements for SEA of a range of national, regional and provincial strategies and plans. The SEA of the Quang Nam Province Hydropower Plan for 2006-15 provides a unique case study, as it was the first SEA undertaken following the requirements of the revised LEP.
  • Bhutan: Strategic Environmental Assessment and environmental mainstreaming
    The Kingdom of Bhutan is known internationally for its exemplary efforts to safeguard the environment. In 2006, the National Environment Commission decided to move beyond safeguarding and implement Bhutan’s concept of gross national happiness (Royal Government of Bhutan, 2002) as the objective of development. With harmonised donor assistance, the government has taken some impressive steps to mainstream environmental concerns into national five-year plans and sector policies. This case study outlines the development of environmental mainstreaming for the period from 2006 to 2008, based on SEA principles derived from the SEA Guidance.
  • Namibia: Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Millennium Challenge Programme
    The Government of Namibia presented a proposal to the Millennium Challenge Corporation in September 2006. Its principal objective was to reduce poverty and accelerate economic growth through targeted investments in the education, agriculture and tourism sectors. An SEA was applied to this programme, which identified risks and provided recommendations for risk mitigation. One of the most controversial aspects of the programme was the proposed establishment of a veterinary cordon fence along the Namibia–Angola border as a part of the agriculture component. Therefore the debate over the fence will be described in detail in this chapter.
  • Mauritius: Strategic Environmental Assessment on the sugar cane sector
    In Mauritius, the sugar sector makes an important contribution to the economy and international trade. At the same time, this sector can harm the natural environment if inappropriately managed. In order to ensure environmental integrity, an SEA was conducted on the Multi-Annual Adaptation Strategy of the sugar cane sector. Although the SEA concluded that the strategy will make a positive contribution to the environment, some risks were also identified. The results provided critical information for decision-makers in Mauritius and donor agencies to minimise environmental risks.
  • Benin: Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Poverty Reduction Strategy
    Benin takes part in the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and receives aid from the World Bank. The Agence Béninoise de l’Environnement (Beninese environmental agency) carried out a participatory Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the second Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper while it was being drafted. As a result, environmental issues are now covered in both a sectoral and a cross-cutting manner in the second PRSP.
  • Ghana: Strategic Environmental Assessment and its evolution
    Unlike case studies that concentrate on a particular SEA, this example seeks to explain how ideas about EIA, SEA and environmental mainstreaming have been progressively developed in Ghana over the last 20 years. By tracing the evolution of environmental assessment processes over an extended period, it is possible to show how significant changes of attitude and understanding have been introduced by SEA and related processes, and to discuss outcomes in environmental governance that are not immediately apparent from examining the performance of individual SEAs.
  • Sierra Leone: Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment of the mining sector
    A Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) of the mining sector in Sierra Leone was undertaken between 2006 and 2007 in order to support legal and policy reforms and to assist in the country’s economic recovery. The SESA created a platform for dialogue involving all key mining stakeholders including traditionally sidelined interest groups like villagers, civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations. The greatest challenge ahead for Sierra Leone is to maintain capacity development and governance strengthening around the mining sector.
  • Honduras: Strategic Environmental Assessment on Municipal Development Plans
    Honduras introduced SEA in the planning process of Municipal Development Plans. This exercise started with pilot experiments in 10 municipalities, and is expected to be introduced in other municipalities. Although the outcome of the pilot SEA process was largely positive, developing technical capacity and ensuring financial sustainability still remain as important challenges.
  • Montenegro: Strategic Environmental Assessment on the National Spatial Plan
    The first SEA pilot generated a lot of interest, and showed good receptiveness to SEA in Montenegro, but also demonstrated that there is limited SEA expertise available within the country. The SEA pilot provided useful practical illustrations of what an SEA can contribute. Perhaps most importantly, this case study shows how a successful SEA process can provide a better understanding of the cumulative impacts of a series of smaller projects, thus preventing costly mistakes as well as providing better insight in the trade-offs between environmental, economic and social issues.
  • Conclusion
    This concluding chapter draws together a number of themes that run through the book and presents the findings and tentative conclusions. A final section makes some recommendations for further development of SEA practice in development co-operation. This chapter is drafted from the perspective of the editors and their conclusions and recommendations are designed to stimulate further discussion and review, rather than set out a prescribed course of action.
  • Annex A: Capacity development for Strategic Environmental Assessment
    The OECD DAC SEA task team has paid significant attention to help build capacity of individuals and organisations involved in development co-operation to make use of SEAs. This annex reports on some of the activities that have been undertaken by those engaged in SEAs for development co-operation. It outlines the progress that has been made and describes some of the tools that have been developed to support capacity building.
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