Effectiveness of strategic environmental assessment – the significance of learning
Learning, particularly transformative learning, is an established feature of environmental planning, management and assessment. Nevertheless, very often it loses its prominence both as a process and as a goal. This paper explores the extent to which strategic environmental assessment (SEA) can facilitate learning at an organisational and individual level, and ultimately, achieve effectiveness. It is based on the assumption that SEA effectiveness can be achieved if policy, programme and plan-making are oriented towards both the continuous improvement of decision-making and the associated implementation processes. Set within the context of the European SEA Directive, the learning dimension of SEA is explored in Germany, Italy and the UK. This is done through a framework for analysis based on a review of the organisational and individual learning literatures. The research indicates that, owing to their unique contextual and methodological influences, the three countries developed distinct approaches to SEA, with differences in the skills and knowledge needed to improve its learning outcomes. Based on the research findings, the paper identifies what further research is needed to improve SEA's learning outcomes and achieve more effective SEA practice.
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