Strategic environmental assessment facilitates the systematic analyses of the environmental impacts of proposed policies, plans and programmes. Countries and international institutions should introduce and/or carry out strategic environmental assessments with the appropriate participation of NGOs and citizens with a view to the integration of environmental considerations in the decision-making process in other policies. Assessments of international sectoral policies, plans and programmes in areas such as transport, energy and agriculture should be undertaken as a matter of priority.
Environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedures are important means for integrating environmental concerns into development projects and for providing access to information and public participation. An EIA is normally needed for projects involving any of the following: development on a greenfield site; industrial developments; manufacture of products; expansion of an existing facility to undeveloped land; public infrastructure projects (e.g. water supply, sanitation, transport, energy); projects which have the potential to cause environmental impacts outside the area occupied by the project; whenever required by law.
Paragraphs 19 and 20 of the ECE Ã…rhus Declaration (1998) prioritise the development of European strategic environmental impact assessments.
Ministers of health and the environment should cooperate on developing national systems of strategic environmental and health impact assessment which incorporate the requirement for public participation. The Meeting of the Parties to the ECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context should be invited to consider initiating negotiations on a Protocol on Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment in both transboundary and non-transboundary contexts, incorporating public participation provisions and fully addressing human health impacts.
All National Environmental Health Action Plans (NEHAPs) recognize that the strategic decisions taken by the various economic sectors should be improved, and that appropriate health impact assessments should be integrated into economic development policies and programmes. The ECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention), the Sofia Initiative on environmental impact assessment (EIA) endorsed at ECE's Third Environment for Europe Conference in 1995, and the mandate contained in the Ministerial Declaration adopted by the Ã…rhus Conference form a basis for integration of environmental and health considerations in the decision-making processes of the various economic sectors.