Strategic environmental assessment

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is a systematic decision support process, aiming to ensure that environmental and possibly other sustainability aspects are considered effectively in policy, plan and programme making. In this context, following Fischer (2007)[1] SEA may be seen as:

  • a structured, rigorous, participative, open and transparent environmental impact assessment (EIA) based process, applied particularly to plans and programmes, prepared by public planning authorities and at times private bodies,
  • a participative, open and transparent,possibly non-EIA-based process, applied in a more flexible manner to policies, prepared by public planning authorities and at times private bodies, or
  • a flexible non-EIA based process,applied to legislative proposals and other policies, plans and programmes in political/cabinet decision-making.

Effective SEA works within a structured and tiered decision framework,aiming to support more effective and efficient decision-making for sustainable development and improved governance by providing for a substantive focus regarding questions, issues and alternatives to be considered in policy, plan and programme (PPP) making.

SEA is an evidence-based instrument, aiming to add scientific rigour to PPP making, by using suitable assessment methods and techniques. Ahmed and Sanchez Triana (2008) developed an approach to the design and implementation of public policies that follows a continuous process rather than as a discrete intervention.discrete[2]

History[edit]

The European Union Directive on Environmental Impact Assessments (85/337/EEC, known as the EIA Directive) only applied to certain projects.[3] This was seen as deficient as it only dealt with specific effects at the local level whereas many environmentally damaging decisions had already been made at a more strategic level (for example the fact that new transport infrastructure may generate an increased demand for travel).

The concept of strategic assessments originated from regional development and land use planning in the developed world. In 1981, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department published the Area-wide Impact Assessment Guidebook. In Europe, the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context the so-called Espoo Convention laid the foundations for the introduction of SEA in 1991. In 2003, the Espoo Convention was supplemented by a Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment.

The European SEA Directive 2001/42/EC required that all member states of the European Union should have ratified the directive into their own country's law by 21 July 2004.[4]

Countries of the EU started implementing the land use aspects of SEA first; some took longer to adopt the directive than others, but the implementation of the directive can now be seen as completed. Many EU nations have a longer history of strong environmental appraisal, including Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden. The newer member states to the EU have hurried in implementing the directive.

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, for the first time placed people and not conservation at the centre of environmental management.

The White Paper on Environmental Management Policy (1997) includes an overarching framework policy developed through a comprehensive participatory process known as the Consultative National Environmental Policy Process (CONNEPP). The White Paper, amongst other things, defines the nature of sustainable development and introduces sustainable development as the accepted approach to resource management.

The framework for sustainable development was compiled in order to articulate South Africa‘s national vision for sustainable development and indicate strategic interventions to re-orientate South Africa’s development path in a more sustainable direction.

Integrated Environmental Management (IEM) enforced by Chapter 5 of National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998) (NEMA) is one of the policy directives towards giving effect to Section 24 of the Constitution and the sustainable development imperatives of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. The purpose of this Chapter is to promote the application of appropriate environmental management tools in order to ensure the integrated environmental management of activities.

Regulations regulating environmental impact assessments were passed in 1997 in terms of the Environment Conservation Act, 1989. These Regulations were implemented by both the provincial and national spheres of government. The post-1994 evolution of law in SA and the problems with the implementation of the EIA Regulations necessitated the development of new EIA Regulations. NEMA (as amended) made provision for the development of the new EIA Regulations to replace the 1997 EIA Regulations, which came into effect in July 2006.

After the implementation of the 2006 NEMA Regulations, the time was right to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of EIA in South Africa. DEAT therefore launched an extensive investigation and reviewed the efficiency and effectiveness (REE) of EIA practice as implemented over the period of 10 years. The REE culminated in the “Ten Years of EIA in South Africa Conference” and the findings of the issues were reported. It was agreed that the current system giving effect to the objectives of IEM as indicated in Section 23 of NEMA is inadequate. At the Conference it was agreed that an Environmental Impact Assessment and Management Strategy (EIAMS) should be formulated for SA. A desired future was sketched and it was agreed that the strategy should be developed and implemented to map the road in achieving such new system.

Since 1 May 2009, the EIA system also has to be implemented and administrated in adherence to amendments affected to NEMA through the National Environmental Management Amendment Act, 2008 (Act No. 62 of 2008). The process of amending the 2006 EIA Regulations is completed with replacement Regulations which were promulgated on 2 August 2010.

Although the White Paper and the objectives of Chapter 5 of NEMA envisaged tools for all elements defined in terms of NEMA, the system which was adopted and implemented only addressed command and control (through EIA) and was in its application very much limited to “projects” as opposed to the wide range included in the definition of ‘activities” in NEMA. “activities”, when used in Chapter 5, means, policies, programmes, processes, plans and projects.

2. Purpose, context and mandate of the Strategy

2.1 Purpose of EIAMS

The purpose of the EIAMS process is therefore to facilitate a participatory process in order to compile a strategy that gives effect to the objectives of integrated environmental management as contained in Section 23 of NEMA within the context of the principles of sustainable development (Section 2 of NEMA).

The strategy must look at the desired future state for the EIAM system and path the way to achieve it within the mandate provided by Chapter 5 of NEMA and within a strategic policy context.

The desired future includesan environmental impact assessment and management system, consisting of voluntary and regulated instruments in the next 5 years, where -

  • the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of the current system have been corrected and the efficiencies and effectiveness optimized;
  • regulated EIA is used only when it is the most appropriate tool;
  • IEM is given effect through a variety of other instruments that would, depending on the nature of activities and/or the receiving environment supplement, compliment or replace EIA;
  • EIAM takes place within a strategic context of environmentally informed spatial instruments, sector strategies and policies;
  • authorities are sufficiently capacitated with skilled and experienced officials;
  • other stakeholders are capacitated and empowered to ensure maximum impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of the strategy;
  • government regulatory processes have been as far as possible integrated, or at least aligned and
  • all stakeholders are equally committed to make it work: Government, EAPs, developers, community etc.

2.2 Context

The Strategy will be developed within the context of existing legislation, policies, NEMA, plans including National, Provincial, Local Integrated Development plans. The Strategy will need to respond to the current legislative context but should also influence it.

2.3 Mandate

The mandate of the strategy stems from NEMA chapter 5 with specific reference to:

Section 23: General objectives:

The purpose of this Chapter is to promote the application of appropriate environmental management tools in order to ensure the integrated environmental management of activities. Activities in this instance mean policies, programmes, processes, plans and projects. Section 24 gives effect to the objectives contained in Section 23 of NEMA only through environmental authorizations. Environmental Authorizations include mainly 3 themes:

· Identification of activities which require authorization.

· Process/procedures for authorization (including instruments).

· Implementation of authorization.

Section 24 however fails to allow for usage of instruments such as norms and standards that do not fall within the scope of the definition of “norms and standards” as provided for in section 1 of the Act.

Figure 1: Context and Mandate

3. Progress to Date

The Conference in 2008 agreed on project structures for the EIAMS:

The project structures include:

· The Project Management Team (PMT)

· The Project Coordinator (PC)

· The Project Steering Committee (PSC)

· The Theme Coordinating Committees (TCC)

· The Subtheme Task Teams (STTT)

· The Advisory Group (AG)

Figure 2: Project Structures

Three Themes were identified for the Strategy namely:

· Governance and Administration

· Capacity, Skills & Transformation

· Impacts and Instruments

he Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, for the first time placed people and not conservation at the centre of environmental management.

The White Paper on Environmental Management Policy (1997) includes an overarching framework policy developed through a comprehensive participatory process known as the Consultative National Environmental Policy Process (CONNEPP). The White Paper, amongst other things, defines the nature of sustainable development and introduces sustainable development as the accepted approach to resource management.

The Framework for sustainable development was compiled in order to articulate South Africa‘s national vision for sustainable development and indicate strategic interventions to re-orientate South Africa’s development path in a more sustainable direction.

Integrated Environmental Management (IEM) enforced by Chapter 5 of National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998) (NEMA) is one of the policy directivestowards giving effect to Section 24 of the Constitution and the sustainable development imperatives of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. The purpose of this Chapter is topromote the application of appropriate environmental management tools in order to ensure theintegrated environmental management of activities.

Regulations regulating environmental impact assessments were passed in 1997 in terms of the Environment Conservation Act, 1989. These Regulations were implemented by both the provincial and national spheres of government. The post-1994 evolution of law in SA and the problems with the implementation of the EIA Regulations necessitated the development of new EIA Regulations. NEMA (as amended) made provision for the development of the new EIA Regulations to replace the 1997 EIA Regulations, which came into effect in July 2006.

After the implementation of the 2006 NEMA Regulations the time was right to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of EIA in South Africa. DEAT therefore launched an extensive investigation and reviewed the efficiency and effectiveness (REE) of EIA practice as implemented over the period of 10 years. The REE culminated in the “Ten Years of EIA in South Africa Conference” and the findings of the issues were reported. It was agreed that the current system giving effect to the objectives of IEM as indicated in Section 23 of NEMA is inadequate. At the Conference it was agreed that an Environmental Impact Assessment and Management Strategy (EIAMS) should be formulated for SA. A desired future was sketched and it was agreed that the strategy should be developed and implemented to map the road in achieving such new system.

Since 1 May 2009, the EIA system also has to be implemented and administrated in adherence to amendments affected to NEMA through the National Environmental Management Amendment Act, 2008 (Act No. 62 of 2008). The process of amending the 2006 EIA Regulations is completed with replacement Regulations which were promulgated on 2 August 2010.

Although the White Paper and the objectives of Chapter 5 of NEMA envisaged tools for all elements defined in terms of NEMA, the system which was adopted and implemented only addressed command and control (through EIA) and was in its application very much limited to “projects” as opposed to the wide range included in the definition of ‘activities” in NEMA. “activities”, when used in Chapter 5, means, policies, programmes, processes, plans and projects.

2. Purpose, context and mandate of the Strategy

2.1 Purpose of EIAMS

The purpose of the EIAMS process is therefore to facilitate a participatory process in order to compile a strategy that gives effect to the objectives of integrated environmental management as contained in Section 23 of NEMA within the context of the principles of sustainable development (Section 2 of NEMA).

The strategy must look at the desired future state for the EIAM system and path the way to achieve it within the mandate provided by Chapter 5 of NEMA and within a strategic policy context.

The desired future includesan environmental impact assessment and management system, consisting of voluntary and regulated instruments in the next 5 years, where -

· the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of the current system have been corrected and the efficiencies and effectiveness optimized;

· regulated EIA is used only when it is the most appropriate tool;

· IEMis given effect through a variety of other instruments that would, depending on the nature of activities and/or the receiving environment supplement, compliment or replace EIA;

· EIAM takes place within a strategic context of environmentally informed spatial instruments, sector strategies and policies;

· authoritiesare sufficiently capacitated with skilled and experienced officials;

· other stakeholders are capacitated and empoweredto ensure maximum impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of the strategy;

· government regulatory processeshave been as far as possible integrated, or at least aligned and

· all stakeholders are equally committed to make it work: Government, EAPs, developers, community etc.

2.2 Context

The Strategy will be developed within the context of existing legislation, policies, NEMA, plans including National, Provincial, Local Integrated Development plans. The Strategy will need to respond to the current legislative context but should also influence it.

2.3 Mandate

The Mandate of the Strategy stems from NEMA chapter 5 with specific reference to:

Section 23: General objectives:

The purpose of this Chapter is to promote the application of appropriate environmental management tools in order to ensure the integrated environmental management of activities. Activities in this instance mean policies, programmes, processes, plans and projects. Section 24 gives effect to the objectives contained in Section 23 of NEMA only through environmental authorizations. Environmental Authorizations include mainly 3 themes:

· Identification of activities which require authorization.

· Process/procedures for authorization (including instruments).

· Implementation of authorization.

Section 24 however fails to allow for usage of instruments such as norms and standards that do not fall within the scope of the definition of “norms and standards” as provided for in section 1 of the Act.

Figure 1: Context and Mandate

3. Progress to Date

The Conference in 2008 agreed on project structures for the EIAMS:

The project structures include:

· The Project Management Team (PMT)

· The Project Coordinator (PC)

· The Project Steering Committee (PSC)

· The Theme Coordinating Committees (TCC)

· The Subtheme Task Teams (STTT)

· The Advisory Group (AG)

Figure 2: Project Structures

Three Themes were identified for the Strategy namely:

· Governance and Administration

· Capacity, Skills & Transformation

· Impacts and Instruments

The Project Coordinator was appointed in February 2010 and the first PSC workshop was also held in February 2010. The three Theme Coordinating Committees were established in May 2010 and the 2nd PSC meeting was held on 28 July 2010. The Terms of References for the PSC and TCCs have been finalized as well as the Business Plan, Time Frames and Vision for the Strategy.

4. Vision

A Vision for the process has been compiled by the PSC namely:

“ To give effect to the framework for integrated environmental management by providing for a diverse range of regulatory and other mechanisms to ensure proactive assessment and management that are implemented through cooperative governance and accountable, transparent and participatory decision-making, to achieve sustainable development”.

5. Themes and Subthemes

At the PSC meeting in February 2010 the draft subthemes were developed and thereafter amalgamated and confirmed by the second PSC meeting in July 2010. The following subthemes under each theme have been agreed upon:

Theme 1: Governance and Administration:

Subtheme 1: Procedures and Organisational Structures

Subtheme 2: Knowledge and Information

Subtheme 3: Public Participation

Subtheme 4: Monitoring and Enforcement

Subtheme 5: Quality assurance and Independence of EAP’s

Theme 2: Capacity, Skills & Transformation

Subtheme 6: Representative demographics within service providers and civil society

Subtheme 7: Empowerment of marginalized communities

Subtheme 8: Skills of EAPS and Government Officials

Theme 3: Impacts and Instruments

Subtheme 9: Existing and new Environmental Impact Management Tools

Subtheme 10: Co-operative Governance: EIAM tools

Subtheme 11: Quality Management: EIAM Tools

6. Way forward

Subtheme specialist reports

The subtheme specialist reports will be compiled during the period August 2010 to March 2011. The Terms of Reference for eleven detailed subtheme specialist studies are in the process of compilation and approval. The Terms of Reference set out the specific tasks and deliverables per subtheme.

After the subtheme reports have been agreed upon by the project structures as part of a participatory process, the Theme reports will be compiled.

7. Website development

A website has been developed for dissemination of information, exchange of ideas and comments: www/ EIAMS.environment.gov.za. People are invited to register as part of the reference group on the website. Reports and documentation will be made available on the website for comments and discussion after the project structures have reached sufficient agreement on the documents. quick links

Why do we need a strategy?

Public discussion forum

Management Structures

Project Management Team

FAQ

10 Years of EIA in SA

After the subtheme reports have been agreed upon by the project structures as part of a participatory process, the Theme reports will be compiled.

7. Website development

A website has been developed for dissemination of information, exchange of ideas and comments: www/ EIAMS.environment.gov.za. People are invited to register as part of the reference group on the website. Reports and documentation will be made available on the website for comments and discussion after the project structures have reached sufficient agreement on the documents. quick links

Relationship with environmental impact assessment[edit]

For the most part, an SEA is conducted before a corresponding EIA is undertaken. This means that information on the environmental impact of a plan can cascade down through the tiers of decision making and can be used in an EIA at a later stage. This should reduce the amount of work that needs to be undertaken. A handover procedure is foreseen.

Aims and structure[edit]

The SEA Directive only applies to plans and programmes, not policies, although policies within plans are likely to be assessed and SEA can be applied to policies if needed and in the UK certainly, very often is.

The structure of SEA (under the Directive) is based on the following phases:

  • "Screening", investigation of whether the plan or programme falls under the SEA legislation,
  • "Scoping", defining the boundaries of investigation, assessment and assumptions required,
  • "Documentation of the state of the environment", effectively a baseline on which to base judgments,
  • "Determination of the likely (non-marginal) environmental impacts", usually in terms of Direction of Change rather than firm figures,
  • Informing and consulting the public,
  • Influencing "Decision taking" based on the assessment and,
  • Monitoring of the effects of plans and programmes after their implementation.

The EU directive also includes other impacts besides the environmental, such as material assets and archaeological sites. In most western European states this has been broadened further to include economic and social aspects of sustainability.

SEA should ensure that plans and programmes take into consideration the environmental effects they cause. If those environmental effects are part of the overall decision taking it is called Strategic Impact Assessment.

In the European Union[edit]

SEA is a legally enforced assessment procedure required by Directive 2001/42/EC (known as the SEA Directive).[4] The SEA Directive aims at introducing systematic assessment of the environmental effects of strategic land use related plans and programs. It typically applies to regional and local, development, waste and transport plans, within the European Union. Some plans, such as finance and budget plans or civil defence plans are exempt from the SEA Directive, it also only applies to plans that are required by law, which interestingly excludes national government's plans and programs, as their plans are 'voluntary', whereas local and regional governments are usually required to prepare theirs.

United Kingdom[edit]

SEA within the UK is complicated by different Regulations, guidance and practice between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In particular the SEA Legislation in Scotland (and in Northern Ireland which specifically refers to the Regional Development Strategy) contains an expectation that SEA will apply to strategies as well as plans and programmes. In the UK, SEA is inseparable from the term 'sustainability', and an SEA is expected to be carried out as part of a wider Sustainability Appraisal (SA), which was already a requirement for many types of plan before the SEA directive and includes social, and economic factors in addition to environmental. Essentially an SA is intended to better inform decision makers on the sustainability aspects of the plan and ensure the full impact of the plan on sustainability is understood.

The United Kingdom in its strategy for sustainable development, A Better Quality of Life (May 1999), explained sustainable development in terms of four objectives. These are:

  • social progress which recognises the needs of everyone
  • effective protection of the environment
  • prudent use of natural resources
  • maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment.

These headline objectives are usually used and applied to local situations in order to assess the impact of the plan or program.

Internationally[edit]

Pan-European region[edit]

The Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment was negotiated by the member states of the UNECE (in this instance Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia). It required ratification by 16 states to come into force, which it did in July 2010. It is now open to all UN member states. Besides its potentially broader geographical application (global), the Protocol differs from the corresponding European Union Directive in its non-mandatory application to policies and legislation - not just plans and programmes. The Protocol also places a strong emphasis on the consideration of health, and there are other more subtle differences between the two instruments.

New Zealand[edit]

SEA in New Zealand is part of an integrated planning and assessment process and unlike the US is not used in the manner of environmental impact assessment. The Resource Management Act has, as a principal objective, the aim of sustainable management. SEA is increasingly being considered for transportation projects. [1]

The OECD DAC - SEA in development co-operation[edit]

Development assistance is increasingly being provided through strategic-level interventions, aimed to make aid more effective. SEA meets the need to ensure environmental considerations are taken into account in this new aid context. Applying SEA to development co-operation provides the environmental evidence to support more informed decision making, and to identify new opportunities by encouraging a systematic and thorough examination of development options.

The OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Task Team on SEA has developed guidance on how to apply SEA to development co-operation. The document explains the benefits of using SEA in development co-operation and sets out key steps for its application, based on recent experiences.

See also[edit]

Organisations[edit]

EC projects[edit]

  • BEACON - Strategic Environmental Assessment of transport plans and programmes

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fischer, T. B. (2007). Theory and Practice of Strategic Environmental Assessment, Earthscan, London.
  2. ^ Ahmed, Kulsum; Sánchez-Triana, Ernesto. 2008. Strategic Environmental Assessment for Policies : An Instrument for Good Governance. © Washington, DC : World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/6461
  3. ^ Council Directive 85/337/EEC on the Assessment of the Effects of Certain Public and Private Projects on the Environment (1985-06-27) from Eur-Lex
  4. ^ a b Directive 2001/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (2001-06-27) from Eur-Lex

External links[edit]

  • nssd.net - Strategic Environmental Assessment: A rapidly evolving approach.