Towards environmental assessment of policy in Bhutan
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Policy development occurs across many different sectors of government, and these policies can have far-reaching implications once they have been formalised and become the base for future government activities and budgets. Conceptually, SEA would be the appropriate tool to assess these policies for their environmental consequences. SEA would also encourage the policy proponents to consider environmental and sustainability impacts, issues and opportunities, within their policy designs, preferably during the early stages of policy development. But what do you do when many policies are being developed rapidly, and the time frames and human and financial resources available in a developing country are simply not sufficient to conduct conventional policy SEAs - let alone the fact that some policy proponents may not yet be convinced of the need to do so? This is the current situation in Bhutan where many policies are in various stages of development or approval. This paper describes the formal process in Bhutan within which central government policies are developed, and how attempts are being made there, albeit tentatively, to bring some elements of "SEA thinking" to policy development and approval-recognising the reality that most policies will have to be developed without a formal SEA.
32nd Annual Conference of the International Association for Impact Assessment, IAIA12 Conference Proceedings
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Environmental Impact Assessment