SEA guidelines for the evaluation of strategy papers in development co-operation. (Marianne Fernagut)


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Agenda 21

Agenda 21 sets out a plan of action to guarantee that life in the next millennium will change substantially for the better. It was endorsed by the world's governments at the UN Conference on Environment and Development, in Rio de Janeiro (June 1992).


A possible course of action, in place of another that would meet the same purpose and need of the proposal.


Biological diversity: the variety of life forms, the different plants, animals and micro-organisms, the genes they contain and the eco-systems they form. It is usually considered at three levels: genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity.


That part of the environment that does not originate with human activities (e.g. biological, physical and chemical processes).


Two way flow of information between the proponent and the stakeholders with opportunities for the stakeholders to express views on the proposals.

Country strategy paper

In order to realise the objectives of sustainable human development for each partner country of the Belgian direct bilateral co-operation, a strategy note is drawn up for each country .


To approve or reject the proposal and to establish the terms and conditions for its implementation.


The person(s) entrusted with responsibility for allocating resources or granting approval to a proposal.


Environment means the surroundings within which humans exist and that are made up of –

i. The land, water and atmosphere of the earth;

ii. Micro-organisms, plant and animal life;

iii. Any part or combination of (i) and (ii) and the inter-relationships among and between them; and

iv. The physical, chemical, aesthetic and cultural properties and conditions of the foregoing that influence human health and well-being

Environmental Assessment

The systematic, reproducible and interdisciplinary identification, predication and evaluation, mitigation, management and public debate of a proposed development and its reasonable alternatives.

Environmental Impact

The outcome of an action whether considered desirable or undesirable for the physical environment from the point of view of the protection of human beings, animals, plants, goods, water, soil, air and the relationships among and between them, as well as the conservation of aesthetic, physical and cultural-historic values.

Environmental Impact Assessment

A detailed study and public debate of the environmental consequences of a proposed course of action. An environmental assessment or evaluation is a study of the environmental effects of a decision, project, undertaking or activity.

Impact prediction

Assessment of relevant baseline conditions and trends, some type of systems description of each alternative, and prediction of impacts in the resulting systems based on tools such as checklists, risk assessments, and other means: identification of environmental enhancement and mitigation measures.


A parameter, or a value derived from parameters, which points to, provides information about, and describes the state of a phenomenon/environment/area, with a significance extending beyond that directly associated with a parameter value.


One-way flow of information from the proponent to the stakeholders.


A range of techniques that can be used to inform, consult or interact with stakeholders affected by a proposal.

Millennium Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals are an ambitious agenda for reducing poverty and improving lives that world leaders agreed on at the Millennium Summit in September 2000. For each goal one or more targets have been set, most for 2015, using 1990 as a benchmark.


Activity involving repeated observation, according to a pre-determined schedule, of one or more elements of the environment to detect their characteristics (status and trends).

Multilateral Environmental Agreements

Legally binding instrument the aims of which include environmental protection and which are open to all countries concerned. etc.


Establishment of environmental (and sustainability) goal, based on national and international policy objectives, that should guide the decision


A property that is measured or observed.


Interactive exchange between the proponent and the public encompassing shared analysis and agenda setting and the development of understood and agreed positions on the proposal and its impact.


A purposeful, forward-looking strategy or design, often with co-ordinated priorities, options and measures, that elaborates and implements policy.


A general course of action or proposed overall direction that a government is, or will be, pursuing and which guides ongoing decision-making.

Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers

Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) describe a country's macroeconomic, structural and social policies and programs to promote growth and reduce poverty, as well as associated external financing needs. Governments through a participatory process involving civil society and development partners, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, prepare PRSPs.


A coherent, organised agenda or schedule of commitments, proposals, instruments and/or activities that elaborates and implements policy.


Forecasted evolution and trends given certain conditions.


To identify the issues and impacts that are likely to be important and to establish terms of reference for SEA.


To determine whether or not a proposal should be subject to SEA and, if so, at what level of detail.


Those who may be potentially affected by a proposal, e.g. local people, the proponent, government agencies, NGOs, donors and others.

Strategic Environmental Assessment

A (formal) process of systematic analysis of the environmental and other effects of development policies, plans and programmes and other proposed strategic actions. This process extends the aims and principles of EIA beyond the project level and when major alternatives are still open.

Strategy Paper

In order to realise the objectives of sustainable human development, a strategy paper is drawn up for the five sectors of the Belgian bilateral aid (public health, education and training, agriculture and food security, basic infrastructures, controlling conflicts and peace reconstruction), three transboundary themes (environment, gender en social economy) and each partner country.

Sustainable Development

Development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development requires the effective integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions (the three pillars) of development.

Terms of Reference

Written requirements governing (S)EA implementation, how and when involvement will take place, data to be produced and form and content of the (S)EA report. Often produced as an output from scoping. Here resulting in an information notice.






African Caribbean and Pacific


Biological Oxygen Demand


Belgian Technical Co-operation




Development Assistance Committee (OECD)


Department for International Development, United Kingdom


Belgian Directorate-General for Development Co-operation


Dissolved Oxygen


Emission database for global atmospheric research


European Environment Agency


Environmental Impact Assessment


Environmental, Social and Economic


European Union


Federale Overheidsdienst (Federal Public Service)


Gross Domestic Product


Geographical Information Systems


International Energy Agency


The World Conservation Union (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources)


Millennium Development Goals


Multilateral Environmental Agreement




Nongovernmental Organisations


Nitrogen Oxides


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development




Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper


Southern African Development Community


Strategic Environmental Assessment


Secretariat For Eastern African Coastal Area Management


Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency


Sulphur Oxides


Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats


Universiteit Antwerpen (Antwerp University)


United Nations (Organisation)


United Nations Economic Commission for Europe


United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification


United Nations Development Programme


United Nations Environment Programme


United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


The United States Agency for International Development


Vlaamse Interuniversitaire Raad (Flemish Interuniversity Council)


Volatile Organic Compound


Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University Brussels)


World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission)


World Resources Institute


World Summit of Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, South Africa 2002)


World Wide Fund



About the SEA guidelines




With support of the Flemish Interuniversity Council and the Belgian Directorate-General for Development Co-operation, the Human Ecology Department of the Free University of Brussels has drawn up these guidelines with respect to the evaluation of country strategy papers.





The objective of the SEA-guidelines is to integrate environmental issues into development co-operation decision-making at the level of plans, programmes and policies. It strives to enhance the quality of development co-operation. The ultimate goal of SEA in this context is to contribute to sustainable development and poverty reduction by informing and influencing development co-operation policies about the sustainability risks and opportunities associated with development policies, strategies, plans and programmes on the basis of the linkages between environmental, social and economic factors and impacts, and to contribute to enhancing good governance by ensuring transparency, stakeholder participation and accountability in the process.


In general, donor agencies have not introduced formal, systematic procedures for SEA but rather have chosen to require the use of SEA on a case-by –case basis, depending on the needs of the specific programme (Kjörven and Lindhjem, 2002). However, a successful SEA involves a systematic process in a common reporting framework and is guided by laws or guidelines (Sheate et al., 2001). These guidelines to guide the conduct of SEA in (bilateral) development co-operation are a first step in this direction.


These guidelines address country strategy papers of the Belgian Directorate General of Development Co-operation and equivalent plans and programmes. The guidelines involve general, procedural and methodological issues concerning SEA and are an attempt to help to conduct SEA in practice. This guidebook is not a comprehensive reference book but provides a scientifically sound SEA-process.




Researcher: Marianne FERNAGUT

Promoter: Prof. Dr. Luc HENS

Free University Brussels

Human Ecology Department

Laarbeeklaan 103

1090 Brussels



Tel: + 32 2- 477 42 86

Fax: + 32 2-477 49 64







This document has been divided in three parts. Part 1 is intended to provide an introduction to SEA concepts and principles. The second part discusses the relationship between the assessment and the decision-making process. Part 3 gives information on the methodological aspects of conducting a strategic environmental impact assessment. Finally, part 4 is intended to provide information on a (non-exhaustive) selection of environmental issues that can be discussed in SEA.



Steering Committee


Anne-Marie PIETERS – Chair


Bolswerksquare 1A

B-1050 Brussels


Patrick SIMONS

DGOS – Governmental Programmes (Africa)

Brederodestraat 6

B-1000 Brussels


Prof. Em. Dr. Rudi VERHEYEN

UA – Instituut voor Milieukunde

Campus Drie Eiken

Universiteitsplein 1

B-2610 Wilrijk


Barbara VINCKE

DGOS – Non-governmental programmes

Brederodestraat 6

B-1000 Brussels




DGOS – Policy Support

Brederodestraat 6

B-1000 Brussels




11 11 11 (Coalition of Belgian North South Movement)

Vlasfabriekstraat 11

B-1060 Brussels



DGOS – Governmental Programmes (Africa)

Brederodestraat 6

B-1000 Brussels



Belgian Technical Cooperation

Rue Haute 147

B-1000 Brussels





The first chapter describes general aspect of strategic environmental assessment (SEA). First part gives general aspects of SEA: it provides an answer to basic questions about SEA:


· What is SEA? Definition, objectives benefits;

· Why do SEA? policy - legislative framework for conducting SEA,

· How do SEA? Main steps of SEA, When do SEA ?

· Which documents/ activities are subject to SEA.


The following chapter two discusses roles and responsibilities in the decision-making process of SEA. It provides an answer concerning which stakeholders involve at what stage. Criteria for quality of the SEA process are given and issues about costs of carrying out the SEA process explained. Factors that can influence effectiveness of an SEA are determined.


Chapter three describes in detail the methodological steps in the SEA-process. Step by step is explained what needs to be done. First is explained how can be determined whether an SEA is necessary. Next, how to set up the terms of reference, questions to determine environmental questions and objectives is described. Methods for predicting en evaluating alternative strategies are discussed. Content for information notice and SEA-report is proposed. Finally, a procedure for impact monitoring is provided.


In the last chapter four environmental issues relevant for development co-operation are discussed and indicators for assessment and monitoring are given. Interesting internet resources for obtaining information about these environmental issues is provided.





This document was realised under the policy preparation research programme of the Flemish interuniversity council who financed this work. It is established on partial fulfilment of contract number NBVO20039R005.


President of the steering committee was Mieke Pieters (VLIR). Arnold Jacques de Dixmude represented DGCD in this project.


We are grateful for reviewing this document to

- Prof. Em. R. Verheyen (UA);

- Prof. De Pauw (UG);

- Jan de Mulder (Ministry of the Flemish Community – dept. EA);

- Tom Degryse (Ministry of the Flemish Community – development co-operation);

- Dr. R. Verheem (Commission for EIA, The Netherlands);

- Nathalie Risse (ULB).


We also like to thank the OECD/DAC workgroup on SEA for its interest and contribution.


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