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A4n Legal and policy frameworks for SEA in Newly Independent States

Aleg Cherp, Central European University, Hungary

Key issues to be addressed

Position Paper:

Most of the Newly Independent States (NIS) of the former Soviet Union (also referred to as Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asian (EECCA) countries) have formal systems providing for environmental evaluation of strategic activities. These include State Environmnetal Review (SER) and, in some countries, Assessment of Environmnetal Impacts (OVOS). However, these systems largely lack specific procedural and documentary requirements for SEA and/or mechanically transform project-level EIA procedures to the SEA level.

Now that some of the NIS signed the UNECE Kiev SEA Protocol (2003) and expressed their intention to harmonise their environmental legislation with the European Union, they face a task of reforming their SEA systems. In addition to the above-mentioned weaknesses, the NIS may have particular difficulties in achieving their objectives because their project-level EIA systems—which could provide the institutional basis for the introduction of SEA—are not universally compatible with international standards. The traditionally highly sectoralised and technocratic planning systems which allow for little public participation and inter-sectoral coordination (e.g., with health or environmental authorities) may be considered as an additional obstacle to introducing effective SEA systems.

The session will consider various approaches and practical experiences of overcoming these challenges, including the outcomes of the UNDP/REC project on strengthening SEA capacities in the NIS. In particular, the session will discuss SEA legal models appropriate for the NIS, approaches to fostering understanding and acceptance of SEA among environmental, health and sectoral authorities as well as NGOs and the general public, training experts in SEA and strategic planning, creating networks of SEA practitioners, officials and academics, initiating research of SEA models compatible with existing planning structures and last, but not least, ensuring continuous learning from both domestic and international SEA experience.

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