Towards Better Decision-Making
The Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei series on Economics, the Environment and Sustainable Development
Edited by Pietro Caratti, Holger Dalkmann and Rodrigo Jiliberto
Chapter 1: Background and context of a strategic environmental assessment
Gary Haq 1.1 INTRODUCTION This chapter aims to provide the background and context to the ANSEA project. It reviews the evolution and development of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) from project environmental impact assessment (EIA). It examines the definitions of environmental assessment (EA) and its limitations and identifies a need to develop a new conceptual framework for SEA based on the systematic integration of environmental values in the decision-making process. 1.2 EVOLUTION OF ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT AND NEED FOR SEA The 1969 US National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) introduced the first EIA system as a result of the convergence of several factors. These included (O’Riordan and Sewell 1981): a tradition of rational planning; a new level of public concern about the environment; the increasing scale and wider repercussions of major development schemes; and the failure of project appraisal and review procedures to account for evident ecological and community impacts. Since its introduction, different EIA systems have been set up worldwide and have enabled EIA to become an important tool to safeguard the environment in the project planning process (Morris and Therivel 1995; Petts 1999). EIA procedural and methodological developments have reinforced each other and have resulted in a shift towards broader and more integrative assessments. In particular, the EIA process has taken a stronger socio-political dimension while its scientificrational basis has become methodologically diverse and specialized (Sadler 1996). Three main trends in the evolution of EIA can be identified: 5 6 ANSEA theoretical background 1. adoption of EIA worldwide since its...
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