Updated to: 16 February 2015Download as PDF
Country contact on SEA
Country's planning system
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
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
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 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
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 decree was approved by the president of Benin and several ministers.
Recent updates and additions to the SEA legislation
Current enabling legislation for SEA
Environmental law no. 98-030.
Current national detailed regulation for SEA
No detailed regulation for SEA available.
Sector specific procedures/regulations
Methodological guide for SEA (2006).
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
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.
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
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
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
Initiator of the SEA
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
- 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.
The Beninese Association for Environmental Assessment Professionals (ABPEE in French), established in 1998, aims to promote effective and systematic EA practice in Benin.