Handbook on Strategic Environmental Assessment
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Handbook on Strategic Environmental Assessment

Edited by Thomas B. Fischer and Ainhoa González

This comprehensive Handbook shows how Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), an important decision support tool for strategies, policies, plans and programmes, is applied globally. It reflects on SEA practices and the advancements made over the past three decades in the development of SEA.
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Chapter 7: Strategic environmental assessment effectiveness

Riki Thérivel and Ainhoa González


How well does SEA work, and is it worth carrying out? In other words, how effective in achieving its goals and cost-effective is it? And how can it be made more effective. This chapter describes seven dimensions of SEA effectiveness, discusses how effective SEA currently is for each dimension, and gives suggestions for how SEA effectiveness can be improved. It is based on a study carried out for the Irish Environmental Protection Agency, which included a literature review of 180 articles, book chapters and reports; more than 40 interviews with SEA practitioners and experts; an in-depth analysis of 20 SEAs; as well as a double issue of the journal Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal which discussed SEA practice in 15 countries (Therivel and González, 2019). The issue of SEA effectiveness is particularly relevant at the moment, given the European Commission’s evaluation of the ‘fitness for purpose’ of the SEA Directive (EC, 2019) and multiple countries’ consideration of ‘streamlined’ assessment processes (Glasson and Therivel, 2019).

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