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 21: Strategic environmental assessment in New Zealand

Richard Morgan and Nick Taylor


There is little recognition of strategic environmental assessment (SEA) as a concept, or a term, within policy and planning circles in New Zealand. The main environmental statute, the Resource Management Act 1991, in many ways represents a fully integrated form of SEA into policy and plan processes. However, practice has often fallen short of the potential offered. Recent innovations in participatory and collaborative planning processes, and revised guidelines for evaluation reports, may see improved future performance, closer to international SEA best practice. Similarly, regulatory impact assessment, employed at Ministry level in New Zealand, has the potential to deliver SEA-type outcomes but practice has rarely achieved them. A number of other statutes, such as those for land transport planning, require the consideration of environmental and social issues during policy and plan making. In most cases there needs to be improvement in process elements such as scoping, impact analysis and public participation before these efforts can be equated with delivering SEA outcomes. Non-statutory processes that are close to SEA in intent include periodic strategic-level reports from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, and occasional Royal Commissions inquiring into major social or environmental issues. Overall, while there is great potential for advancing SEA practice in New Zealand, an improvement will require a more purposeful policy framework, significant awareness raising and capacity development among policy and plan-making practitioners. This need will become more important in future with the development of major climate change adaptation strategies and plans.

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