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Title: The paradox of strategic environmental assessment

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a tool that can facilitate sustainable development and improve decision-making by introducing environmental concern early in planning processes. However, various international studies conclude that current planning practice is not taking full advantage of the tool, and we therefore define the paradox of SEA as the methodological ambiguity of non-strategic SEA. This article explores causality through at three-step case study on aggregates extraction planning in Denmark, which consists of a document analysis; a questionnaire survey and follow-up communication with key planners. Though the environmental reports on one hand largely lack strategic considerations, practitioners express an inherent will for strategy and reveal that their SEAs in fact have been an integrated part of the planning process. Institutional context is found to be the most significant barrier for a strategy and this suggests that non-strategic planning setups can prove more important than non-strategic planning in SEA practice. Planners may try to execute strategy within the confinements of SEA-restricted planning contexts; however, such efforts can be overlooked if evaluated by a narrow criterion for strategy formation. Consequently, the paradox may also spark from challenged documentation. These findings contribute to the common understanding of SEA quality; however, further research ismore » needed on how to communicate and influence the strategic options which arguably remain inside non-strategic planning realities. - Highlights: • International studies conclude that SEAs are not strategic. = The paradox of SEA. • Even on the highest managerial level, some contexts do not leave room for strategy. • Non-strategic SEA can derive from challenged documentation. • Descriptive and emergent strategy formation can, in practice, be deemed non-strategic.« less
Authors:
;
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22334153
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Impact Assessment Review; Journal Volume: 47; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2014 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; DECISION MAKING; DENMARK; DOCUMENTATION; ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY; PLANNING; PUBLIC OPINION; SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT