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Title: Towards SEA for the developing nations of Asia
Authors: Briffett, C.
Obbard, J.P. 
Mackee, J.
Issue Date: Mar-2003
Source: Briffett, C.,Obbard, J.P.,Mackee, J. (2003-03). Towards SEA for the developing nations of Asia. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 23 (2) : 171-196. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: In the developing and transitional countries of Asia, environmental impact assessment (EIA) has been widely practiced as a planning tool that identifies the potential impacts associated with developments and determines their level of significance and the need for mitigating measures. Not withstanding its extensive use in many Asian countries, certain limitations are now being increasingly recognised with regard to achieving sustainable development within the planning process. It is also noted that the natural environment in Asia has continued to be severely degraded despite the adoption of EIA. This research project was undertaken at the National University of Singapore to review the status on the implementation of EIA procedures and to investigate the status and potential of strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in Asia. The research project generally investigated the existing physical attributes of six countries including Hong Kong and Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam and discussed their prevailing environmental conditions. It more specifically reviewed policymaking and environmental planning, environmental legislation and the practice and procedures of environmental impact assessment. It also evaluated environmental assessment education and training activities. In some cases such as Hong Kong, an opportunity to analyse actual SEA practice was included. In other cases, the potential for possible take up of formal SEA was assessed. A comparative review assesses the degree to which EIA and SEA procedures have been utilized, considers how the use of SEA could overcome the deficiencies of the EIA project-based system and includes aspects of meeting sustainability criteria. Results show that the use and application of EIA is relatively strong across all countries with the possible exception of Singapore which relies more heavily on its planning and control system to address potential environmental impacts arising from development projects. Despite this, EIAs have been undertaken in every country due to aid and bank lending agencies requiring them and multinational companies and many local NGOs completing voluntary EIAs. Even though the mandatory introduction of EIA into some countries is fairly recent such as Hong Kong (1999) and Vietnam (1994), efforts to conduct such investigations may have started many years before. The country reviews highlight many common problems and adverse influences that give rise to inadequate EIA practice, and in some cases, recommendations for improvement are proposed. The potential for SEA is assessed on the basis of its present usage which is generally small except for Hong Kong and the environmental strategic decision-making that is being conducted in policy, plan and programme formulations. While the more comprehensive and well-refined westernized model of SEA is generally weakly implemented at present, there is evidence to suggest that Agenda 21, along with other international treaties such as the Biodiversity Charter and the Ramsar Convention, has motivated certain sustainability initiatives that are resulting in increased environmental considerations at a strategic level. In some cases, these may be reflected in National Plan policymaking or in the sector and area-based activities of various ministries and departments. It is concluded that SEA potential is generally strong in those countries with smaller centralized bureaucracies but that its successful implementation will be highly dependent on changing the mind-sets and motivations of top personnel at ministerial level. © 2002 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.
Source Title: Environmental Impact Assessment Review
ISSN: 01959255
DOI: 10.1016/S0195-9255(02)00100-2
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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