How Strategic Environmental Assessment Can Help Address Climate Change

Strategic Environmental Assessment is a systematic process that identifies and evaluates a proposed action’s potential impacts on the future of natural and human environments. These impacts can be direct or indirect, temporary or permanent, and include effects on air, water, land, wildlife, plants, and other living or natural features.

This article will shed light on what strategic environmental assessment is all about. 

What is a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)?

The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a systematic process of assessing the environmental consequences of a policy, strategy, or program and its alternatives. In compliance with the Strategic Environmental Assessment Regulations, the method combines a broad-based approach to the environmental assessment that analyzes ecological concerns linked with policy, plan, or program recommendations (S.L.549.61).

SEA Planning

It paves the way for environmental factors to be included from the beginning of the planning process. SEA’s purpose is to aid in comprehending the strategy’s development context, identifying challenges and opportunities as they arrive, responding to significant trends, and evaluating environmentally sound and sustainably practical choices for resolving strategic concerns. 

What Does SEA Offer?

The SEA evaluates the degree to which a specific policy, strategy, or program:

  • Offers a response to environmental and climate change-related concerns;
  • Adapts to the environment and climate 
  • It provides chances to improve the status of the environment, as well as possibilities to contribute to the development of climate-resilient and low-carbon technologies.

Ideally, a SEA should be part of making a policy, plan, or program from the beginning, and the government should be very involved. A thriving SEA also needs the help of the public.

Compared to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) gives strategic recommendations and permits more control over interactions and cumulative impacts. There is no singular strategy for SEA. It can take shapes according to the circumstances.

1. SEA Screening

Screening is the decision to do a SEA. SEAs are required for any policies, plans, and programs that, when implemented, are likely to have significant adverse environmental consequences.

2. SEA Scoping

Scope means figuring out what problems the SEA needs to solve and how to do it. Stakeholders’ concerns and value judgments should be considered when setting the scope of the SEA.

3. SEA study

The SEA study provides a more detailed analysis of critical issues. It is divided into several stages, including the establishment of an environmental standard, the identification of environmental and climate change constraints and opportunities, the identification, and assessment of potential environmental affects, an analysis of performance indicators, a review of institutional capacities to address the identified environmental and climate change challenges.

Steps to Take for SEA

  1. Think about whether the policy, plan, and program (PPP) making process needs SEA.
  2. Setting up PPP goals and possible alternatives
  3. Identification of essential consequences, indicators, and baseline environmental conditions
  4. Prediction and analysis of effects, as well as analysis of alternate courses of action
  5. Taking into account potential preventative actions
  6. Examining and making decisions
  7. Monitoring the impact of PPP on goals

Benefits of SEA

The primary goal of SEA is to create better policies, strategies, and programs. Here are the primary advantages of SEA:

1. Boosts Sustainability

SEA allows for the systematic incorporation of environmental policies, as well as social and economic factors into strategies and programs. Ensuring environmental sustainability, or The seventh Millennium Development Goal comprises the following objectives: incorporate sustainable development concepts into national policies and programs and stop the depletion of natural resources.

Sustainability in Food

2. Increases the Effectiveness of Policy, Plan, and Program Decision-Making

SEA allows public engagement and consultation in examining environmental elements of policy, procedure, or program formation. Consultation and public engagement at the outset of the planning process provide vital information to the SEA, enhancing the legitimacy of the agreed policy, plan, or program.

3. Allows for the Assessment of Cumulative Effects

SEA enables the evaluation of a wider variety of consequences and options that are often overlooked at the project level.

4. It Makes It Easier to Do Better Environmental Projects

SEA helps find the best ways to create policies, plans, and programs with positive results and as few adverse effects as possible. This leads to the implementation of projects that are better for the environment. This process also sets up the framework for future environmental assessments at the project level.

Better Environmental Projects

Consumers’ View of the Strategic Environmental Assessment

Environmental assessment is a technique that allows locals to learn about ecological projects or upstream planning choices in their area, provide feedback, and have a say in the decision-making process, whether it’s for a small town or a sprawling industrial complex on a lovely meadow.

This engagement not only allows the public to participate in creating the environment and quality of life in their “backyard,” but it also serves as a call to action: Environmental evaluations assist projects or plans to acquire broader support and avert potential disputes at an early stage. A three-pronged strategy for environmental protection includes responsible citizens, environmental awareness, and environmental information offered by administrations and project management.

Tree Planting


SEA ensures an integrated approach to natural resources management and sustainable development. It is a necessary action for governments that want a balanced environmental program. Governments need to place greater emphasis on environmental issues if they’re going to see greater progress toward the objectives of sustainable development. 

Governments should acknowledge and address environmental problems like climate change. They should create policies to address these issues and reduce the ecological footprint of economic activities. Moreover, they should promote environmental and climate justice and consider the needs of future generations. For example, cities need to reduce air pollution and single-use plastics. Finally, governments need to support international efforts to address climate change. 

Only when governments consider environmental issues in a meaningful way can they achieve more excellent progress toward sustainable development objectives. 

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