Sri Lanka

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SEA profile

Updated to: 09 October 2013

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SEA background

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Country contact on SEA

Contact details for the country contact on SEA.

Mrs R.R.Ellepola, DDG
Central Environmental Authority
Telephone: 0112872388
Fax: 0112872296

Mrs. Kanthi de Silva
Central Environmental Authority
Environmental Impacts Assessment unit
Director EIA
Telephone: 0112876643
Fax: 0112872296

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 2006, a cabinet memorandum was submitted by the CEA requiring that all major policies, plans and programmes be subjected to an SEA prior to implementation. This memorandum was subsequently approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. All Ministries, Departments and Authorities who are responsible for implementing a new policy, plan or programme are expected to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment for the new policy, plan or programme prior to its implementation. Although this does not equal a fully fledged SEA framework and although SEA still is not a mandatory requirement in Sri Lanka, it provides a basis for SEA practice in Sri Lanka. 
 Several pilot SEA’s have already been carried out in order test SEa in the Sri lankan context. In 2009, an SEA guide has been developed by the Central Environmental Authority.

Ramani Ellepola (2007) EIA in Sri Lanka. Presentation in PENTA – WII WORKSHOP ON ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT CURRICULAUM Dehradun, India 24-26 September 2007 Website CEA:

Legal framework for SEA

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Framework/Enabling law

Name of first enabling legislation that sets the framework for SEA.

A detailed legal framework for SEA has not yet been developed.

First national detailed SEA regulation

First national detailed regulation (procedural requirements) for SEA, through which SEA was operationalized.

There are no SEA guidelines and procedures.

Sector specific procedures/regulations

Any existing sectoral procedure/regulations are listed here, as well as the authority that issued each.

There are no sector specific SEA guidelines and procedures.


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.

The Central Environmental Authority has issued a 'Simple Guide to Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)' in 2009. These guidelines are not legally binding and merely give recommendations to Ministries and other government agencies.

Scope of SEA application

Describes for which planning processes (at policy, programme and plan level) SEA is required.

The SEA guidelines recommend that SEA should be done for policies, (provincional, regional, district, local authority) plans, development programmes and strategic plans.

Exemptions from SEA application

Are any specific types of plans explicitly excluded from SEA application?

The SEA guide suggests that strategic plans and programmes that relate to defense are excluded from the requirement for SEA. The same accounts for proposals that are prepared in response for a clear and immediate emergency situation.

Institutional setting for SEA

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SEA procedure

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Establishing context

Screening process

Describes the screening process for SEA (if any), who is involved and who is responsible. What kind documentation on the SEA needs to be submitted for screening?

The SEA guide suggests a 'preliminary scan' to determine if there are important environmental effects of a policy, programme or plan. It provides questions that can be used to perform a preliminary scan.

Implementing the SEA

Content of SEA report

If documentation is required, what should be contained in the SEA report?

The not legally binding SEA guide suggests that an SEA report shall contain the following elements:

  • The existing situation in the particular sector and/or region.
  • The major goals and objectives of the policy, plan or programme.
  • The most pronounced environmental issues (adverse as well as positive) of the preferred options.
  • The significance of these environmental effects.
  • What can be done to avoid or lessen the negative effects and enhance the positive effects?
  • Details of consultations with any stakeholders including internal meetings with other sections as well as with external agencies and how the out comes of these consultations were integrated into the policy/plan/programme.
  • State how the findings of the SEA influenced the final policy / plan / programme.
  • State how the environmental effects associated with the policy, plan or progrmme will be mitigated and monitored and reported upon.

SEA guide 2009

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?

There are no legal requirements for obtaining a CEA approval for SEA's at presents.

SEA guide, 2009


SEA practice

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Annual no. of SEAs

Gives an estimation for the number of SEAs that are produced annually in this country.

No information.

Central SEA database

Is there a central database or library where information on SEAs is kept (i.e. where all SEAs are registered and/or copies are archived). If so, what is kept there and is this information publicly accessible?

No information

Practice reviews

Any SEA practice review studies that have been done (by governmental agencies or others) are listed here. Where relevant, links to studies are included, and the main conclusions of the studies are summarised.

C. Mackee J, J. Obbard and C. Briffet (2001). EIA in Sri Lanka: it's status and the potential for introduction of SEA. Journal of Environmental Impact Assessment, Policy and Management, vol. 3 no. 2 June 2001. pp 209-240. 

Case studies

SEA case studies on which information is available are listed here, including a link to case documentation, if available.

SEA Case studies undertaken in Sri Lanka include SEAs for the:

  • Hambantota solid waste disposal sites;
  • Panadure development plan; and
  • Trincomalee Development Plan.

Capacity development

Sets out any ongoing training programmes (including professional and academic training) and major training events held in the past (with focus on recent events).

In 2006, the Netherland Commission for Environmental Assessment gave two workshops on SEA. The first was an introductory work shop on SEA targeting members of TERP, MoE, CEA and UDA. The second workshop was organised particularly for UDA and town planning experts and environmental consultants involved with the townships development project of the Ministry of Urban Development and Water Supply.

Non-governmental SEA guidance

Lists any SEA manuals and good practice publications (including checklists, case studies) that have been published by parties other than government.

No information available.

SEA links

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Other relevant links on SEA

Other relevant links on SEA in the country are given here.

Sri Lanka EIA and SEA overview at UNU SEA wiki