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Review: Experiences of Strategic Environmental Assessment in Developing Countries and Emerging Economies – Effectiveness, Impacts and Benefits

Authors Dragana Davidovic
Publisher University of Gothenburg
Place of publication Göteborg
Publication year 2014
Published at Centre for Environment and Sustainability
Language en
Keywords Strategic environmental assessment, SEA performance criteria, trategic decision-making, effectiveness, impacts, benefits, developing countries, emerging economies
Subject categories Economic Geography, Economics


Strategic environmental assessment has been described as being a tool to improve strategic decision-making by integrating environmental issues into plans and programmes. However, there is a limited amount of evidence of the effectiveness, impacts and benefits of application of SEA, in particular from developing countries and emerging economies. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the implementation of SEA in five developing country contexts including China, South Africa, Brazil, South Korea and India. To review their experiences I focus on three closely related aspects: has SEA been effective in terms of improving strategic decision-making from an environmental perspective; has it had an impact on the environment, planning processes, strategic decisions and the implementation of these decisions; and has it been beneficial by improving planning and decision-making? The method used is a meta-analysis that compares the results of multiple case studies found in the recent SEA literature. The case studies were selected with a focus on SEA application in the natural resource sector such as the energy sector, land use planning, transport and water management. The results of the study show some examples of effective SEA practice in developing/emerging economies, but still the majority of the case studies present an overall low performance in terms of SEA effectiveness. I conclude by providing several recommendations for improving SEA practice, both on case level and system level, based on key findings of the study. I also present the need for further research in the field to increase the knowledge of SEA effectiveness, impacts and benefits in practice – particularly concerning impacts of SEA on the environment.

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