International Association for Impact Assessment

Strategic Thinking for Sustainability (ST4S) in SEA and SA – setting future directions

Strategic Thinking for Sustainability (ST4S) in SEA and SA – setting future directions

OTC 22-06
Dates: 15, 16, 17, and 18 Aug 2022
Times: 1:00 - 4:00 pm UTC each day (Coordinated Universal Time)
Make sure to check that the time of this course works for you in your time zone.
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Presented by: Maria R. Partidario (Portugal)
Course tuition:  US$480 for IAIA Members / $580 for Non-IAIA Members  (No bursaries available for Online Training Courses.)
Please register early! The course will be cancelled if the minimum number has not been reached one week before the course start date. If the training course is cancelled at that time due to low enrollment, IAIA will notify you and provide refund information.
Payment & refund policies: Registration is not confirmed until payment has been received and a receipt has been issued. Pre-registration and pre-payment by individual course deadline is required. IAIA will refund registration fees upon written request received before the specific course deadline; a US$125 processing fee will be retained. After the course deadline date, no refunds will be issued for cancelations or no-shows. Substitutions for paid registrants may be made in writing without financial penalty. 
Course level: Advanced      
Language of delivery: Engish
Prerequisites: Willing to think outside the box. Basic knowledge of policy-making, planning and some level of experience with Strategic Environmental Assessment, Sustainability Assessment or Environmental Impact Assessment.
Homework between sessions: Trainees will be invited to test core activities of the ST4S methodology to cases they have at hand in their own work environment, and share results, if they so wish.


Practice in Impact Assessment (IA) is largely driven by the idea of project development. But it is recognized that IA must acknowledge the complexity of the decision-making processes, and even the interplay of power and politics in strategic decisions. By acting strategically IA is driven by an idea of development with aspirational objectives, placing them within time, space and governance contextual issues, with further gains for project development. The literature shows that the strategic dimension of IA is already gaining traction.

This course will lead participants to learn creative ways in IA to enable sustainability, using the strategic thinking for sustainability (ST4S) methodology. The course builds upon the strategic thinking model developed by Maria Partidario in 2007, and published in SEA Guidance in 2012 (in Portuguese, English and Spanish). While strategic thinking links better with strategic environmental assessment (SEA) or sustainability assessment (SA), with other forms of IA, such as social, health, human rights or environmental IA new opportunities for smartening IA may be created.

The course is structured in four days. Learning outcomes include 1) the added-value of using strategic thinking in IA; and 2) and how to use the ST4S methodology to improve the strategic dimension in IA. A combination of active learning tools will stimulate questions and dialogues, sharing of experiences, and test ST4S by handling a given problem in a strategic way. More details are available at

  • "One of the best courses I have been through. Sample of excellency."
  • "Your course changed my understanding about SEA and IA."
  • "Many good lessons that I will put to practical use!"
  • "The course has influenced my way of thinking and approaching environment and sustainability."
  • "Such a rich and very significant course for positive societal change."
  • "The course is inspiring, providing useful guidance to help planning and achieving a sustainable future." 
  • "Great course! Enjoyed it very much. Maria is a world class professor and practitioner. I really liked it because, at the end this strategic thinking is really an eye opener when you are dealing with analysis. The course was excellent! 100%."

Maria R. Partidario, full professor, University of Lisbon, Portugal, and honorary professor at Aalborg University, Denmark, is a long-standing researcher, author, trainer and consultant on SEA, planning and sustainability; Maria led the promotion of strategic thinking in IA since the late 1990’s and trained 1000+ professional participants throughout the world, both in the context of IAIA pre-meeting courses and in national contexts (in Europe, Latin America, Middle East, South East Asia and Africa). Maria acted as an advisor to various UN agencies and international organizations and was involved in 80+ strategic environmental assessments in practice. Maria is past-President of IAIA and awarded the IAIA 2015 Lifetime achievement award.