Strategic Environmental Assessments

A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a formalized, systematic and comprehensive process of identifying and evaluating the environmental consequences of proposed policies, plans and programs to ensure that they are included and appropriately addressed at the earliest possible stage of decision-making. An SEA helps to create a development context towards sustainability, by integrating environment and sustainability issues in decision-making, assessing strategic development options and issuing guidelines to assist implementation. A SEA helps understand the development context of the strategy being assessed, appropriately identify problems and potentials, address key trends, and assess environmentally and sustainably viable options that will achieve strategic objectives. The SEA process includes public consultation/participation and the preparation of a report which includes the likely significant effects on the environment and identifies the reasonable alternatives of the proposed plan or program. The SEA can be a mechanism to enhance environmental sustainability by better mainstreaming environmental and social aspects into the policy, planning, and decision making stages.