EFFECTIVENESS OF STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT (SEA) IN SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa is regarded as a leading developing country in terms of SEA practice. However, the lack of empirical research to evaluate and learn from this wealth of practical experience can be considered a major lost opportunity not only for South Africa but also for the development of our understanding of SEA in the developing world. This paper provides the research results of an effectiveness review of six high profile SEA case studies within the South African context. Measured against four key performance areas (KPAs) and nine key performance indicators (KPIs) the research results show a high degree of ineffectiveness across all six cases in terms of 'direct outputs'. The main areas of weakness were the inability to influence the contents of plans and programmes as well as decision making in general. It can thus be concluded that based on the 'poor' direct effectiveness results SEA is not achieving its objectives within the South African context. However, certain 'indirect outputs' also emerged such as highlighting deficiencies and gaps in existing policy as well as examples where SEA facilitated capacity building and raised awareness of sustainability issues. Moreover, SEAs also contributed significantly to information generation and sharing. The research results suggest that practitioners need to either redefine the purpose of SEA, or fundamentally rethink the way in which SEA is being applied within the South African context. The paper concludes by making proposals for future international research.
Strategic environmental assessment, performance evaluation, effectiveness, direct outputs, indirect outputs
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