SEA provides a practical and direct means of progressing MDG 7 on Environmental Sustainability (agreed at the UN General Assembly in 2000). This calls for the “integration of the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes”. Secondly, SEA also helps further the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation agreed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, which stressed the importance of “strategic frameworks and balanced decision making […] for advancing the sustainable development agenda”.
The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, adopted in 2005, commits donors to reform the way in which aid is delivered to improve effectiveness, by harmonising their efforts and aligning behind partner countries’ priorities. It also calls upon donors and partners to work together to “develop and apply common approaches for strategic environmental assessment at sector and national levels”. This Guidance aims to respond to these challenges. Drawing on practical experience and established “good practice”, it points to ways to support the application of SEA in the formulation and assessment of development policies, plans and programmes.
In view of the great diversity of circumstances across different countries, it seeks to provide a commonlyagreed and shared model that allows for flexibility in developing appropriate applications of SEA to the diversity of needs. It is presented in the context of a rapidly emerging framework of international and national legislation on SEA in both developed and developing countries.