A performance evaluation of strategic environmental assessment (SEA) processes within the South African context
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT REVIEW
North West University - South Africa
SEA has been described as being more about process than about product. Yet very little research has been conducted to gain a better understanding of how SEA processes perform within developing country contexts. To address this gap in knowledge the research underlying this paper aimed to evaluate the quality of SEA processes within the South African context against specifically designed key performance indicators. Comparison of the different data patterns revealed general SEA process features as well as three broad models, namely the 'stand alone', 'central to decision making' and 'integrated' models. The research results suggest a particularly poor performance in terms of process quality for the SEA case studies investigated. Moreover, it shows that there is no one understanding of SEA process within the South African context. The main limitations related to a weak understanding of the decision making processes SEA aimed to inform, as well as an inability to incorporate flexibility into process design. To take the debate forward it is proposed that SEA follow-up and effectiveness research be explored to determine which of these models (if any) ultimately contributed to influencing decision making and promote sustainability. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.