Resource Manual to Support Application of the Protocol on SEA
A4. SEA of plans and programmes
A6. Policies and legislation
Chapter as printable file
Chapter A5: Overview of basic tools for SEA
A5.1 INTRODUCTION TO THE CHAPTER
The Protocol refers throughout to ‘the environment, including health’. To avoid repetition, the Manual refers only to ‘the environment’, but this should always be understood to include health. For more information on health issues, please see [Annex] [Chapter] [XX].
1. This Chapter describes how an assessment can be carried out that gives effect to the provisions and procedures of the Protocol on SEA (as described in Chapters A2 to A4) and that meets emerging internationally-accepted standards of good practice.
2. It is organized into three sections focusing on:
- The relationship between SEA and plan and programme making, with particular reference to their basic approaches and methodological frameworks (section A5.2)
- Analytical approaches and tools that can be employed to undertake an SEA in support of effective plan and programme making (section A5.3)
- Participatory approaches and tools that can be employed to undertake an SEA in support of effective plan and programme making (section A5.4)
A5.2 ANALYTICAL AND PARTICIPATORY TOOLS IN SEA
3. The Protocol is a procedural framework that does not specify how analyses or consultations should be conducted. However, a number of requirements set out in the Protocol have methodological overtones or content.
4. In this respect, it should be noted that there is no single best methodology for conducting SEA and that there is a large range of analytical and consultative tools available for this purpose. These tools derive from three main sources:
- Tools used in EIA with adaptations to undertake SEA at the required scale and appropriate level of detail
- Tools used in policy analysis, plan evaluation or the development of plans and programmes with adaptations to provide an analysis that meets the requirements of the Protocol
- Tools used in health impact assessment (HIA) to take account of significant effects on human health, as required by the Protocol
5. In all cases, SEA methodology and tools should be appropriate to the issues to be addressed in the given plan or programme and the choice of an approach should be determined as part of scoping.
6. As described in Chapter A3, the Protocol applies to certain plans and programmes that set the framework for development consent. It seems likely, in that context, that EIA-derived methods can be used or modified to undertake SEA for plans or programmes that initiate specific land uses or projects, i.e. where a cause-effect chain can be readily identified. The following may be suitable in these circumstances:
- Formal and informal checklists
- Matrices of impacts
- Impact networks
- Case comparisons and collective expert judgements
- Overlay mapping and geographical information systems (GIS)
- Predictive modelling
- Life-cycle assessment (LCA)
- Multi-criteria analysis (MCA)
7. When the environmental effects of plans and programmes or particular components of them are indirect and generalized, tools used in policy appraisal or plan evaluation may be more suitable. Examples of policy-appraisal or plan-evaluation methods include:
- Policy and legal reviews
- SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, or other approaches to mapping of constraints and opportunities
- Scenario building
- Matrices of conflicts and synergies
- Decision trees
- Trend analysis and extrapolation
- Simulation modelling
- Options appraisal
- Comparative risk assessment
8. It is important to recall that in many instances a single simple method of assessment may be appropriate for all environmental effects.
9. However, when the health effects of plans or programmes or particular components of them are important, tools used in HIA may be appropriate. Examples of HIA methods include:
- Health hazard checklists
- Qualitative and quantitative risk assessment
- Surveys of health risk perception
- Methods and tools for risk characterisation and risk communication.
- Methodologies for rapid assessment of health risk and impacts and of the environmental determinants of health impacts
10. In exceptional circumstances it may be useful to consider the application of the DPSEEA (Driving Forces - Pressures - State - Exposure - Effects - Actions) model in designing a system of health indicators within the decision-making context. However, it is important to recognize the limitations of the DPSEEA model, notably its complexity and lack of precision.
A5.2.2 SEA and plan and programme making from a methodological perspective
11. As noted in the Chapter A2, SEA and plan or programme making are mutually supportive processes with reciprocal functions. Given their close relationship, there are opportunities to design and adapt SEA analytical and consultative tools as an extension of those applied in the development of the plan or programme.
12. Examples of tools that can be adapted with minor modifications to analyze appropriate environmental issues include:
- Tools for the determination of context and key issues (checklists, SWOT, matrices)
- Tools for developing alternative options (scenario building or objectives-led planning)
- Tools for assessment of impacts (modelling, GIS, etc.) or tools comparing options and presenting conclusions (MCA, cost-benefit analysis, etc.)
13. In this context, it is important first to examine critically which of the methods used in the development of the plan or programme can be extended to address relevant environmental issues and thus deliver information required by the Protocol.
14. The decision on the approach and methodology will have to be made case-by-case, respecting the nature of the plan or programme, taking into account data and scale considerations and looking to add value to decision-making and to strengthen the plan- or programme-making process. For example, in the SEA of land-use plans, the emphasis typically will be on resource and environmental potentials and constraints of a particular area. This requires giving specific attention to local baseline conditions and to the ecological effects of proposed changes using tools such as GIS, habitat analysis or vulnerability mapping. By contrast, the SEA of sector plans or programmes may be concerned more with aggregate effects, for example on air quality or on carbon emissions in relation to Kyoto Protocol targets, using simulation models for this purpose.
15. These examples underline the call made above for an adaptation of SEA to the context and characteristics of the planning process. The following rules can help to guide the selection of an optimal approach to integrating the use of SEA tools with those used to develop the plan or programme:
- Analyze the logic behind the development of the specific plan or programme and the analytical tools and stakeholder-involvement techniques applied
- Determine the tools and techniques used in the plan- or programme-making process that may provide information required by the Protocol and consider how these may need to be adapted
- Determine needs for additional analyses and consultations within the SEA process and choose appropriate tools
A5.2.3 Selecting appropriate tools
16. Methods and tools used to conduct SEA have a major bearing on the quality of the information that is incorporated into plan and programme making and decision-making and on the effectiveness of this process.
17. As noted in the introduction to this section, there is no single ‘best’ methodology for conducting a systematic and thorough analysis. Generally speaking, however, the simplest tool consistent with the task should be used in SEA. In many cases, of course, more advanced methods will need to be employed to generate information or predict the impact on the environment (e.g. traffic simulation models for a road-building programme). However, the ‘as simple as possible rule’ still applies and it is important to avoid overcomplicating analyses.
18. It is also important to remember that selected tools must also be data and scale adapted to cope with the temporal and spatial dimensions of likely effects. They also have to be able to address uncertainties that may arise due to limited knowledge of cause-effect relations, insufficient data or unknown development trends that may significantly influence development of the given sector or territory.
19. The information provided through various tools should be decision-relevant, should help to clarify the trade-offs at stake and should recommend practicable options that can give the best environmental pay off with regard to mitigating adverse effects and enhancing positive effects.
A5.3 OVERVIEW OF BASIC ANALYTICAL TOOLS
20. This section provides a more detailed overview of analytical methods and tools that can be used in SEA. This framework draws on EIA-based, policy-appraisal and health impact assessment methods. For ease of use, this overview is organized by key steps and tasks in the preparation of the environmental report, as suggested in section A4.2. This menu of tools is not exhaustive and can be adapted to the particular context of a proposal, depending on the logic of the plan- or programme-making process and the nature of the issues that should be addressed.
Determination of the scope
21. Scoping identifies and determines the important issues that need to be assessed. It normally moves from a long list of concerns to a short list of potentially significant issues.
22. The following methods can be used to scope the environmental dimensions of specific plans and programmes and to identify issues that require attention or that might be affected significantly when implementing the proposal:
- Policy and legal reviews, which help determine those environmental objectives and targets that are relevant to the plan or programme
- Collective expert judgements, which can determine – based on personal experience and case comparisons – possible impacts that should be considered within an SEA
- Checklists, which offer a simple way of identifying whether certain issues are relevant to a proposal and help to avoid overlooking potential issues
- Matrices of impacts and conflicts or synergies, which facilitate – more systematically than checklists – the identification of the main issues that should be addressed within an SEA
- SWOT analysis, which can present relevant opportunities and threats related to the environment that could be addressed in an SEA
- Overlay maps and GIS, which can determine key spatial issues and to set the territorial boundaries for the assessment
- Decision trees and impact networks, which can identify key direct and indirect impacts and set the system boundaries for the assessment
- Life-cycle assessment, which can map all inputs and outputs based on a cradle-to-grave approach, as well as to validate system boundaries for the evaluation of the environmental effects
23. Often it will not be appropriate, possible or necessary to address all environmental effects of a plan or programme within SEA, though the reasons why should always be provided. Instead, assessment against relevant indicators or guiding questions may be sufficient for the purposes of an SEA (see Box A4.2).
Analysis of the context and baseline
24. The purpose of baseline analysis is to establish the reference point for assessing the effects of the plan or programme. Typically, it involves describing the current state of the environment and outlining its likely evolution without the plan or programme. A key task in that regard is to analyze and extrapolate trends in the evolution of the state of the environment in the territory or sector that is subject to the plan- or programme-making process and SEA. Given the need to reflect both key current issues and longer-term trends, and the usual time and resource constraints in plan- or programme-making and SEA processes, the baseline analyses will usually rely on existing data.
25. There are numerous tools that can be used to obtain data, such as:
- Surveys of local environmental quality that have often proved instrumental for project-level EIA may be realistically applied in SEA only for very specific local plans and programmes. Their use in SEA is also limited by the fact that they provide only a snapshot of the current situation without yielding insights into longer-term trends.
- Progress reports on implementation of environmental policy objectives and standards can provide useful insights into obstacles or achievements in realizing already existing environmental objectives and targets. These reports (often part of a state-of-the-environment report or environmental monitoring systems) are usually structured around specific domestic indicators that are relevant for specific commitments in the country.
- Trends in headline environmental indicators usually focus on aggregated indicators to measure key drivers, pressures, states, impacts and responses. Useful indicators may be obtained from international comparative reviews using these headline indicators, for example those of the European Environment Agency or OECD .
- Health surveys help to identify the current health issues that are of concern in areas or sectors addressed by the plan or programme. For example, SEA for a transport plan may analyze trends in the exposure of population to excessive levels of air pollution or noise, accidents on roads, etc; these issues would be usually deemed directly relevant for transport. However, SEA for a transport plan may also map wider or indirect health issues such as cardiovascular diseases, psychosocial well-being or obesity and examine whether they are influenced by transport-related issues (e.g. lack of physical activity – walking, cycling, etc.). Due to complex cause-effect relationships, evaluations of such indirect issues inherently involve assumptions and the assessment in such cases should properly acknowledge any limitations and uncertainties in the conclusions reached.
Contribution to the development and comparison of alternatives
26. The environmental report must identify, describe and evaluate the likely significant environmental effects of implementing the plan or programme and its reasonable alternatives (art. 7). The SEA process has a potentially important role in identifying and generating reasonable alternatives, which begins in the scoping phase. Thecomparison of the effects of the major alternatives represents a crucial step in SEA for contributing to the quality of plan and programme making in support of the environment and sustainable development. Key tools for the purpose of developing alternatives include:
- Collective expert judgement, which can determine or develop key alternatives, e.g. through workshops or conferences
- Overlay maps and GIS, which can help develop and optimize alternatives with clear spatial dimensions
- Scenario building, which can outline future options that reflect the most uncertain and important driving forces affecting future development
- Modelling, which can illustrate key features of the proposed options (possibly starting with extreme scenarios), rule out unfeasible proposals and help in combining and optimizing selected options
- Life-cycle assessment, which can define alternatives based on different material and energy flows (e.g. in waste or energy management)
27. Formulation of alternatives is central to integrating environmental considerations into plan and programme making within the SEA process. A first step is to identify the range of reasonable alternatives that meet the objectives of the proposal, and summarize their environmental aspects. The alternatives should include a ‘do nothing alternative’.
Although it is not mandatory, it might also be helpful to include
the best practicable environmental option (BPEO). The best practicable environmental option helps clarify the environmental trade-offs that are at stake, and the basis for choice.
28. As mentioned in section A4.2, all alternatives can be analyzed and mutually compared in terms of their specific effects or their contribution to the attainment of the relevant objectives of the plan or programme. The development of alternatives is thus normally closely interlinked to the assessment of their effects (hence the inclusion of these two tasks within a single step in section A4.2 ) and some analytical tools used to develop alternatives can be used also to predict their effects (and some of the tools listed below are the same as those identified in the list above). The most common tools include:
- Collective expert judgment, which can analyze the scale and nature of expected impacts
- Matrices of impacts and conflicts or synergies, which can describe the main environmental impacts of proposed options or their main synergies or conflicts with the relevant environmental objectives
- Trend analyses and extrapolation, which can outline the likely evolution of the state of the environment, i.e. environmental trends based on the evolving environmental pressures
- Overlay maps and GIS, which can determine impacts of the proposal in the given territory and identify cumulative and synergistic effects
- Life-cycle assessment, which can help to estimate different resource inputs and outputs of proposed options
- Predictive modelling, which can quantify impacts by simulating environmental conditions
29. The easiest means of comparing key options for decision-making is to describe and present clearly their key positive impacts (benefits) and negative impacts (problems or risks) – such a description will anyway be required as part of the non-technical summary. Other techniques that facilitate comparison of options are:
- Matrices, which can present impacts of proposed options or their consistency with relevant environmental objectives
- Overlay maps and GIS, which can visually present the proposed alternatives and their impacts
- Multi-criteria analysis, which can evaluate alternative options against several criteria and combine these separate evaluations into one overall evaluation
- Cost-benefit analysis, which can examine the balance between the benefits of the proposal and its costs over a specified period of time
- Life-cycle assessment, which can present impacts of proposed alternatives on material and energy flows
30. Given the great degree of uncertainty that inevitably occurs in any analysis on a strategic level, it is recommended that a sensitivity analysis be carried out for any analysis that is performed. Sensitivity analysis helps to test the effect of changed assumptions and thus yields insights into the robustness of an assessment.
31. Annex A5.1 offers more detailed information on selected techniques. The specific features of these techniques are outlined in Table A5.1 below.
Table A5.1: Overview of basic analytical tools
32. The Protocol defines the basic requirements for public access to information and consultation (see section A4.3). These provisions may appear very similar to EIA. However, it is important to note that the scale, scope and range of some SEAs may make the practical public participation arrangements in SEA significantly different from EIA.
33. Public participation in SEA is likely to attract different publics. The complex nature of some SEAs calls for the use of techniques that facilitate focused problem-solving debate rather then mere problem exposure. This is an important challenge for SEA practice in the next few years.
34, In order not to confuse the public with too many opportunities for participation, selected tools should, where possible, provide a single public participation process serving the SEA and plan- or programme-making purposes. These tools may:
- Provide information
- Gather comments
- Engage the public concerned in collaborative problem solving
35. There are many public participation tools and various techniques often differ with minor adaptations. The most common tools are outlined in Table A5.2 below and described in detail in Annex A5.2.
36. Inadequate resources and capabilities of disadvantaged groups and individuals may limit their participation, so attention should be given to selecting appropriate public participation techniques to facilitate their inputs. If the chosen tools are difficult to use by the disadvantaged, there is danger that only better-resourced groups and individuals will participate in the SEA and their views may not necessarily raise all public concerns.
Table A5.2: Overview of basic public participation tools
 See http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/3145.php .
A4. SEA of plans and programmes
A6. Policies and legislation