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Updated to: 16 February 2015Download as PDF
Country contact on SEA
Contact details for the country contact on SEA.
Country's planning system
Brief description of planning practice, specifically whether it take place more often at centralised or decentralised level, what kind of national level planning and sectoral planning takes place, etc.
Two planning axes can be distinguished in Benin: ministerial and regional planning. While the ministry of planning is responsible for the former one, the later one concerns the regional, communal and local dimensions. The laws no. 97-028 and 99-029 introduced the decentralization process in Benin. With these laws, power was delegated to the regions and municipalities, also with respect to regional planning. The municipalities develop their Municipal Development Plan and the Master Plan for Town Planning. Of the three mandatory committees responsible for the management of municipal affairs, one is responsible for land and environmental affairs.
In addition, institutions such as the Economic and Social Council (CES) as well as the National Sustainable Development Commission (CNDD) have a statutory role in the process of the formulation of policies, programs and projects.
History of SEA
Brief description of the history of SEA in the country, including when it was introduced and any major milestones in its development.
In Benin, some legal provisions are provided for SEA. The environmental law no. 98-030 makes some reference to SEA and the EIA guidelines (2001) imply that the EIA procedures are also applied to projects and programmes. These guidelines thus indicate an EIA-based approach of SEA. In 2006, methodological guidelines for SEA were prepared. These guidelines took a more process-oriented approach with a flexible procedure. This SEA profile focuses on this more recent approach, even though the legal status of these guidelines is yet unclear.
With respect to its practice, Benin has some experience with SEA's (e.g. on park management, water, tourism). Also a SEA on the 2nd version of the poverty reduction strategy paper has been conducted.
Legal framework for SEA
Name of first enabling legislation that sets the framework for SEA.
Several articles of the environmental law no. 98-030 make reference to SEA (Articles 3, 6, 21, 54, 59, 87, 88). They provide explicitly or more implicitly for environmental assessment of policies, sectoral strategies, plans and programmes.
Approving authority of enabling law
The authority that approved the enabling law for SEA.
The environmental law no. 98-030 was approved by the president of the republique as well as by the Minister of Environment and Conservation of Nature (previously the Minister of Environment, Habitat and Town Planning) and the Minister of Justice, Legislation and Human Rights.
First national detailed SEA regulation
First national detailed regulation (procedural requirements) for SEA, through which SEA was operationalized.
Decree no 2001-235, which lays down the EIA procedures, stipulates that plans and programmes are subject to the EIA procedure. They, however, give no further specifications for strategic environemtal assessment.
Approving authority of first detailed SEA regulation
The authority that approved the first detailed SEA regulation (procedural requirements)
The decree was approved by the president of Benin and several ministers.
Recent updates and additions to the SEA legislation
Revisions of the SEA provisions in the enabling law or the national detailed SEA regulation (procedural requirements) are named. The year is listed, and the main changes since the first regulation are mentioned, if available. Also, additional relevant SEA-related legislation that has been published since the first legislation is listed.
Current enabling legislation for SEA
Name of current enabling legislation for SEA and link to it.
Environmental law no. 98-030.
Current national detailed regulation for SEA
Name of current national detailed regulation for SEA and link to it.
No detailed regulation for SEA available.
Sector specific procedures/regulations
Any existing sectoral procedure/regulations are listed here, as well as the authority that issued each.
Any government issued guidelines on SEA (general or sectoral) are listed here, as well as the authority that issued each. Describes the legal status of the guidelines.
Methodological guide for SEA (2006).
The objective of SEA as stated in the above described legal basis.
The guidelines for SEA mention general objectives on the one hand, and specific objectives on the other hand.
Three general objectives that are linked to the SEA are:
- to better perceive and consider the advantages or constraints of a design and implementation of a policy, plan or program with respect to the environment;
- to define the limits and capabilities for cumulative effects;
- to ensure an effective framework for the EIA of projects and activities arising from policies, plans or programmes. It provides a better understanding regarding the major environmental issues and helps to reduce the time, effort and cost limits for EIA of projects and activities.
The specific objectives of SEA are:
- to plan a manner which is consistent with the principles of sustainable development;
- to take into account global, cumulative or synergistic impacts and impacts of large scope;
- to streamline the assessment process at the project level;
- to reduce the time and costs associated with EIA's;
- to take into account cumulative effects.
Finally the guidelines mention that SEA aims to ensure that account is taken of the environment early in the decision-making process and that it gives equal importance to the economic and social considerations. SEA is an important tool that provides decision makers with the information necessary to make informed decisions towards sustainable development.
Scope of SEA application
Describes for which planning processes (at policy, programme and plan level) SEA is required.
The guide mentions that SEA is for policy, plans and programmes. It further distinguishes three types of SEA:
- Strategic Environmental Assessment - Sector (SEA-S): These SEA's concern only one sector.
- Strategic Environmental Assessment - Regional (SEA-R): An SEA R is focused on a geographical or thematic region.
- Strategic Environmental Assessment - Departmental / Communale (SEA-D / EES-C): These SEA focus on a specific administrative unit.
Describes the current overall SEA approach. Specifically: Has the country's SEA procedure been modeled on the existing EIA approach? Or has a separate SEA approach been developed?
The SEA approach as described in the Methodological Guidelines for SEA strongly differs from the EIA-based approach that had been taken before. It is based on the national planning process and recognizes that there is no perfect approach for SEA. It emphasizes the importance for flexibility and adaptation in order to study the scope and objectives of the plan, program or policy. In Benin, the SEA is not seen as an analysis of the environmental impacts of a policy, plan or program, but rather as a process whose product is a policy, a plan or program that takes into account the environmental impacts of a development.
SEA tiering with EIA
Are there any provisions for tiering of EIA and SEA?
The methodological guidelines for SEA mentions the relations between EIA and SEA and that SEA is beneficial for EIAs. They mention that SEA can timely detect the effects of projects which are part of a strategy and that it can reveal potential conflicts that could arise in the future. Thus, SEA can help to reduce such impacts and thus can accelerate the conduct of EIA's on projects that are part of the policy, programme or plan for which an SEA is conducted. The guide suggests that as part of the monitoring activities, the results of EIA's and SEA should be observed.
Institutional setting for SEA
Central SEA authority
Is there a central authority in charge of the SEA system as a whole, responsible for issuing guidelines etc? If so, is it independent or linked to a higher body (e.g. ministry)?
The Benin Environmental Agency (ABE) is the central EA authority that has the mandate to implement the different stages of the SEA procedure. It reports to the Ministry of Environment and Conservation of Nature (previously the Ministry of Environment, Habitat and Town Planning) which provides the legal framework for environmental protection and is responsible for main decision-making during the SEA process. However, ABE has corporate status and is financially independent.
(De)centralisation of SEA mandates
Are SEA mandates (de)centralised? Vertical decentralization refers to the extent to which the responsibility for SEA processes is delegated by the central government to the provincial or local authorities. Sectoral or horizontal decentralization refers to the reassignment of decision-making authority on SEA to government units on a sectoral basis.
Initiator of the SEA
Who initiates the SEA? Should the plan owner initiate and undertake the SEA or is an environmental authority responsible for undertaking the SEA. If an authority is responsible, which authority and at which level?
The guidelines define that the authority responsible to initiate the SEA is the administrative body (ministry/departement/municipality) that initiates the policy, plan or programme and that is responsible to consider environmental impacts for it.
Overview SEA procedure
Short text characterizing the overall SEA procedure. If relevant, interesting aspects of the SEA procedure are mentioned such as: which procedural steps are part of the SEA procedure and are they based on procedures defined for EIA (screening, scoping ect)? How are they related to each other? Does the legal text provide specifications regarding the timing of the start of the SEA procedure within t
In the Methodological Guidelines for SEA, SEA is defined as a process whose product is a policy, a plan or program that takes into account the environmental impacts of a development. This SEA approach is separate from the EIA approach and hence different steps are distinguished for the SEA procedure that do not necessarily overlap with procedural steps distinguished for EIA.
According to the guidelines, the SEA procedure comprises the following steps:
- A problem identification including an inventory of impacts.
- A strategic analysis and evaluation of impacts with respect to their environmental potentials and concerns.
- The formulation of scenarios.
- Formulation of a vision.
- Definition and formulation of a strategy.
- Formulation of a Strategic Agenda report.
Identification of stakeholders
Are stakeholders identified early on in the SEA? Who is responsible for identifying the stakeholders? Is a communication plan developed (addressing public and government engagement, disclosure, etc?).
The stakeholders and public are already identified and consultated at an early stage of the process, namely to identify potential environmental impacts of the policy, plan or programme.
Implementing the SEA
Is there a distinct scoping process? Who is responsible? Who is involved? What methods (if any) are prescribed (overlays, matrices, etc)?
Firstly, an inventory of environmental impacts that are related to a proposed policy, plan or programme is made. On the basis of literature reviews, the study of previous similar EIA's, workshops for stakeholders and public consultations, a progress report is then written. In the following, the identified impacts will be analyzed and evaluated with respect to their environmental potentials and constrains. The strategic analysis is based on quantitative methods (e.g. the use of environmental indicators) and qualitative methods. It aims to verify the accuracy of the results as described in the process report. At this stage the option to not do anything further related to the issue is considered.
Assessment/mitigation of effects
What are the specific requirements for assessment and mitigation of impacts as part of SEA? Any specific methods prescribed?
Using the data provided by the strategic analysis of the potential impacts, scenarios are determined with respect to the effects of a policy, plan or programme on the environment. Thereafter a vision is formulated indicating the overall strategic objective. It mentions environmental issues and refers to the scenarios. After having defined the vision, a strategy is defined and formulated. The guidelines suggest a SWOT matrice for that.
Informing and influencing decision-making
SEA and planning decision-making
What is the formal role of SEA in decision-making on the plan? Is SEA approval needed before a planning decision can be made?
The Methodological Guidelines on SEA do not provide specific information on how SEA is linked to decision-making. They merely mention that as part of the implementation of the strategic agenda report, it has to be subject to the conformity certificate. As part of this process, a proposal is submitted to the ministers for advice (Minister of Environment) and approval (Minister responsible for planning and / or development) on the issuance of a certificate of comformity.
Is there a requirement for implementation of decisions to be monitored? What is the role of SEA outcomes in this monitoring? What provisions exits for action to be undertaken if environmental problems occur?
The Methodological Guidelines on SEA mention that during each stage of the implementation, the relevant authorities (central, devolved or decentralized) will monitor and assess the level of compliance with the principles contained in the policy document.
SEA case studies on which information is available are listed here, including a link to case documentation, if available.
- OECD 2012: Strategic Environmental Assessment in Development Practice – A review of recent experience
- Hugé & Hens, 2009, Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, Volume 27, Issue 1: The greening of poverty reduction strategy papers: a process approach to sustainability assessment.
Professional bodies relevant to SEA practice, such as SEA Associations, Planning Associations, etc are listed here.
The Beninese Association for Environmental Assessment Professionals (ABPEE in French), established in 1998, aims to promote effective and systematic EA practice in Benin.