Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment
The Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) supplements the UNECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context. It was adopted and signed in Kiev in 2003 and entered into force on 11 July 2010. It requires its Parties to evaluate the environmental consequences of their official draft plans and programmes. The Protocol also addresses policies and legislation, though the application of SEA to these is not mandatory. It applies to development plans and programmes irrespective of whether they are likely to have an impact on the territory of another state.
In the Protocol SEA is defined as “the evaluation of the likely environmental, including health, effects, which comprises the determination of the scope of an environmental report and its preparation, the carrying-out of public participation and consultations, and the taking into account of the environmental report and the results of the public participation and consultations in a plan or programme” (art. 2, para. 6).
The Protocol provides for extensive public participation in government decision-making in numerous development sectors. The public not only has the right to know about plans and programmes, but also the right to comment, to have their comments taken into account, and to be told of the final decision and why it was taken. Besides considering the typical environmental effects of plans and programmes, the Protocol places a special emphasis on the consideration of human health.
The Protocol requests Parties to inform each other about plans and programmes having significant transboundary environmental effects. When a plan or programme is likely to have such effects, the Party developing the plan or programme has to notify the potentially affected Party. If the affected Party so indicates, Parties shall enter into consultations concerning the likely transboundary environmental effects. During the consultations the public of the affected Party has the right to be informed about and to comment on the plan or programme.