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Strategic environmental assessment as a tool to contribute to high-level policy objectives

Joao, Elsa and Mclauchlan, Anna (2011) Strategic environmental assessment as a tool to contribute to high-level policy objectives. Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, 13 (1). pp. 1-7. ISSN 1464-3332

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Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) has often been identified as a key tool to contribute to sustainable development. This special issue of the Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management focuses on European SEA practice between 2003 and 2010 to critically evaluate SEA links to sustainable development and similar, difficult to define, high-level policy objectives: democratisation, good governance, agri-environmental objectives, and environmental justice. The papers centre upon the three main topics covered by the different research: SEA outcomes being directly related to policy goals; an analysis of the absence of SEA applied to "positive" policy objectives; and the realism of associating SEA with high-level policy objectives. In particular, this paper calls for greater critical engagement with this latter topic, identifying a need to examine why associations are made between SEA and policy goals.