Strategic Environmental Assessment for sustainable development of the hydropower sector


Kolhoff, A.

Additional Authors

Slootweg, R.







Country / Region

Myanmar, India, Pakistan

Document Type


Conservation Measure

Water management

Threat Keywords

Dam construction


Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a decision support tool aiming to integrate environmental and social considerations into government policies, plans and programmes. Since 2019, SEA has been legally adopted in 106 countries and this number is expected to grow. Since 1995, globally, 37 SEAs have been conducted to support
strategic planning and decision-making in the hydropower sector, mainly in low and middle-income countries, predominantly in Asia. Of this list, five cases in Pakistan, India, Myanmar, Viet Nam and Rwanda, have been analysed in detail.

The evaluation showed that the five SEA cases have proven to be influential in the following areas:
• The SEAs contributed to more awareness on the environmental and social impacts of
hydropower plans for all stakeholders: the general public as well as investors and planners of hydropower projects.
• The SEAs contributed to cooperation and exchange between different ministries, in particular those concerned with environment and energy.
• The SEAs provided clarity to project developers concerning go and no-go areas and the environmental and social issues associated with certain sites.
• The SEAs influenced decision-making profoundly and also had other important spin-off impacts such as new legislation or easing of social tensions. Examples are the exclusion of sensitive areas from hydropower development
and avoidance of investments in hydropower projects at sites with high social and environmental risks.

In conclusion, SEA can be an effective and efficient tool to support more sustainable development of hydropower. The document includes lessons learned to maximize this effectiveness and efficiency.