Towards a framework for sea follow-up: Theorethical issues and lessons from policy evaluation

Åsa Persson*, Måns Nilsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Most SEA practice and research has focused on the pre-decision stages, whereas post-decision follow-up stages such as monitoring, evaluation, and management have been given far less attention. These stages, referred to as SEA follow-up, are integral to making SEA effective and learning-oriented. This paper takes the first step towards a framework for conducting SEA follow-up, by analysing the requirements for ex post activities according to the European SEA Directive (2001/42/EC), reviewing existing experiences and literature on how to perform SEA follow-up, and exploring lessons to be learnt from the adjacent fields of EIA follow-up and policy evaluation. The directive, along with most mainstream applications of SEA, is based on EIA follow-up concepts. However, SEA follow-up displays a number of critical differences, including: an enhanced risk of implementation gaps; a focus on performance rather than compliance; and less direct linkages between decisions and impacts. The paper argues that the SEA Directive is seriously constrained and that a more ambitious interpretation of SEA follow-up is necessary to enable strategic decision making and learning. Lessons from the policy/programme evaluation literature could strengthen SEA follow-up by giving it analytical rigour in relation to establishing causality and providing insights into the use and acceptance of SEA follow-up among decision makers and stakeholders. Further explorations into policy evaluation toolkits, and practical experiences in applying them, are needed to enhance the potential of SEA follow-up in supporting strategic decision making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-496
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Evaluation
  • Monitoring
  • SEA directive
  • SEA follow-up


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