Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) effectively promote sustainable development by mainstreaming the environment into economic development and integrating green economy targets into strategic and project-related decision-making.
SEA and EIA are procedures that ensure that the environmental implications of decisions are taken into account before the decisions are made. In the pan-European region, UNECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) and/or the EU Directive 2011/92/EU (EU EIA Directive) provide for obligations to undertake EIA for planned activities such as a dam, power plant or motorway, with likely significant adverse environmental, including health, impacts. The Espoo Convention applies specifically to impacts across national frontiers, and is therefore a key instrument for transboundary cooperation on environmental matters. SEA is applied earlier in the decision making to government plans, programmes and policy documents in accordance with requirements of the UNECE Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment to the Espoo Convention (Protocol on SEA) and/or the Directive 2001/42/EC (EU SEA Directive) Wide consultation of relevant authorities and the public are key features of both EIA and SEA procedures.
In the framework of the EaP GREEN, UNECE will support the participating countries in developing and applying SEA legislation and systems in accordance with the provisions of the Protocol on SEA (and the EU SEA Directive). Despite its benefits SEA is still a rarely used tool in the countries due to a number of obstacles, including low level of awareness of SEA and its benefits among public authorities; weak legislative and institutional framework for its application; lack of understanding of the roles and responsibilities of various authorities in the SEA process; and the absence of specific guidelines and practical experience in the application of SEA.
As appropriate, assistance will also be provided for improving the current practices and legal and institutional frameworks on EIA in compliance with the Espoo Convention (and with the EU EIA Directive).
The activities to be implemented by UNECE in partnership with each of the six EaP GREEN countries in 2013-2016 include:
In addition, national experts will benefit from participation at a number of sub-regional experience sharing events on EIA and SEA, and information to be gathered and made available through various analytical reports and materials prepared to support the countries in implementation of the Espoo Convention and its Protocol on SEA at the national level.
DID YOU KNOW? ... that SEA can help decision makers:
- to achieve environmentally sound and sustainable development to improve planning and programming;