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A1: Legal and policy frameworks for SEA in Africa

Michelle Audouin, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa

Key issues to be addressed

Position Paper:
A commitment has been made by most countries in Africa to achieving sustainable development. This commitment has been made through, for example, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. SEA as a tool to integrate the concept of sustainability into policies, plans and programmes, therefore has the potential to play a key role in implementing the vision of NEPAD and other commitments to sustainable development. Although the implementation of SEA in Africa has been limited, increasingly policy and legal frameworks are being developed for SEA or for strategic planning processes that incorporate certain elements of SEA.

For example, reference to the assessment of policies and programmes is made in environmental legislation in countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Djibouti, Senegal and Mozambique. In addition, there are several examples of SEA or SEA-type processes that have been undertaken or which are currently in progress. These include an SEA of the Caprivi Sugar Project in Namibia, the SEA for the Port of Cape Town in South Africa and the SEA of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy. Guidelines for SEA have also been produced for example, those published by the African Development Bank in 2003 (called Strategic Impact Assessment Guidelines) and those published by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) in South Africa in 2000.

The question arises as to how SEA can be further developed in Africa, to more effectively contribute to addressing current problems and to meeting the vision set by Africa’s leaders for the future of the continent. To initiate discussion on this topic, the session will focus on the following consideration:

• What role can SEA perform in addressing the key concerns in Africa?

• What broad approach to SEA is most appropriate to decision-making processes in Africa? Should an EIA-based approach be followed, or is there an approach that is more suited to decision-making on the continent?

• What type of policy and legal frameworks would most effectively facilitate the implementation of SEA in the various countries of Africa?

Participants who wish to contribute to this debate may propose posters, papers or short presentations. The session will enable presentation of selected contributions and will be closed by a panel summarising key lessons learned.

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