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Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

The Bank’s application of SEA initially arose directly from a policy requiring environmental assessment in all investment projects and providing for the use of sector or regional environmental assessment in specific contexts. In 1999 the requirement was extended to sectoral adjustment loans, for which the SEA was often the tool of choice. 


More recently, the World Bank Environment Strategy, adopted in 2001, recognizes SEA as a key means of integrating environment into the sectoral decision making and planning processes at early stages and made a strong commitment to promote the use of SEA as a tool for sustainable development.  In August 2004, the Bank approved and updated policy on development policy lending, OP/BP 8.60. This new policy emphasizes upstream analytical work — such as SEA, Country Environmental Analysis (CEA), and other analyses done by the Bank, the client country, or third parties — as a source of information for analyzing the likely significant effects of an operation on the borrowing country's environment and natural resources, and for assessing the country's institutional capacity for handling these effects. 


There is a wide range of different interpretations and applications of SEA in use around the world, mainly in OECD countries but increasingly also in World Bank client countries. Recognizing this diversity and the variety of relevant activities underway in the World Bank and its client countries, the approach adopted to implementing the objective of the strategy and increasing the use of SEA has been that of a Structured Learning Program (SLP). This Structured Learning Program has focused on the application of SEA approaches to World Bank and client operations, on the relationship with other World Bank instruments, and on ways in which use of SEA can add value to the outcomes. This website emphasizes these aspects while providing links to some other material on the broader use and definition of SEA.


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