An inquiry into the concept of SEA effectiveness: towards criteria for Chinese practice
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The importance of improving the effectiveness of Plan EIA and SEA-type evaluations in China cannot be overstated: at a time when the country's economy is being boosted by a stimulus package worth over RMB 400 trillion - largely for infrastructure - the pressure on China's already strained environment and resource base is bound to increase. The aim is to propose the criteria for plan EIA's effectiveness to raise the awareness of the need to strengthen the performance of the assessment and maximize its potential benefits. The authors first review critically the discourse on the effectiveness of the impact assessment, identifying three dimensions: substantive, procedural and incremental. The resulting conceptual framework allows them to interpret the weaknesses of the Chinese discourse on the effectiveness and of the practice of the Plan EIA to date. The result is the identification of a clear gap, both in terms of the breadth of the concept, and in terms of the quality of the existing criteria, which tend to be very generic to the point of inapplicability. The analysis also reveals a need for transitioning from formal models of the Plan EIA to more strategic approaches, in a gradual manner that is consistent with context-specificities. The proposal of a set of preliminary criteria for effectiveness is therefore structured on three levels. This framework is meant to input into the ongoing debate on how to improve the practice of PEIA and the SEA-type evaluations in China, and provide ideas for a government strategy aimed at maximizing the positive impact of PEIAs on planning, as well as on the context of application.
Environmental Impact Assessment Review
Environmental Impact Assessment