chapter  1
18 Pages

Taking Stock of Sea

Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is undertaken, both formally and

informally, in an increasing number of countries and international organiza-

tions. This field has developed rapidly in the past decade and is now the subject

of a voluminous literature, which continues to grow apace with the extension

and diversification of SEA practice into new areas. Much of the emphasis still

focuses on what might be termed the standard model based on environmental

impact assessment (EIA), enshrined in the European SEA Directive

(2001/42/EC) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

(UNECE) SEA Protocol (2003). Internationally, however, this is only one of a

number of forms of SEA that are applied to policy, and planning level initiatives

and further variants and institution-specific adaptations, often with their own

brand name, are being rolled out all the time, particularly in relation to lending

and aid instruments used by donor agencies. These trends, in pushing the

boundaries of SEA practice, expose new and residual issues about its role,

theory and methodology.