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Course #5. Strategic Thinking SEA/IA for Sustainability (ST4S):  Revolutionizing IA





Practice in impact assessment is largely technically driven, showing difficulties in dealing with contextual issues, long-term impacts and integrated assessments. Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) was meant to fill this gap by starting earlier, assessing non-site specific development intentions, and using broader, long-term approaches. Sustainability assessment (SA) helps to ensure the intertwined consideration of social, economic, and environmental issues. Taken together, SEA and SA have a great potential to enable transitional processes towards sustainability. However, often project decisions get on the agenda before forward-looking analysis delivers pointers for a desired development. This situation has been limiting policy and planning space to creatively set the context and identify development intentions, and the type of projects that make sense to be developed.

The main purpose of this course is to lead participants to learn creative ways in impact assessment to enable sustainability using strategic thinking. The course builds upon the experience with the strategic thinking model and the critical decision factors concept developed by Maria Partidario (2007, 2012), and published in SEA Guidance (in Portuguese, English and Spanish). The course is not intended to deliver recipes. Instead, it aims to encourage debate to build ideas in a collective way. Learning techniques include dialogues, sharing of experiences, short presentations, case examples from different regions in the world, and group exercises with case-application. Expected learning outcomes include 1) the added value of using strategic thinking in impact assessment, 2) how to conciliate SEA and SA as joint processes, 3) why a strategic-based approach is different from an effects-based approach, and 4) how to apply strategic thinking and the critical decision factors approach.
Level: Advanced
Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of policy-making, planning, and some level of experience with strategic environmental assessment, sustainability assessment, or environmental impact assessment.
Language: English
Duration: 2 days (27-28 April)
Price: US$520
Min/Max: 10-30
Instructor(s): Maria R. Partidario, Associate Professor at University of Lisbon (Portugal) and Adjunct Professor at Aalborg University (Denmark)


Maria R. Partidario, PhD, associate professor at IST (Instituto Superior Técnico), University of Lisbon, Portugal, and adjunct professor at Aalborg University, Denmark, is a long-standing researcher, author, trainer and consultant on SEA, environment, planning and sustainability; Maria created a strategic thinking approach for sustainability (ST4S), fundamentally looking into SEA and SA, but which principles could apply generally to all forms of Impact Assessment. This ST4S concept has been put into guidance, published in Portuguese, English and Spanish. She has trained more than 1000 professional participants throughout the world in 1 to 5 days training courses, both in the context of IAIA pre-meeting courses and in national contexts (in Europe, Latin America, Middle East, South East Asia and Africa). Maria is an advisor to various United Nations agencies and to multi-lateral and bi-lateral organizations, while also doing strategic environmental assessments in practice. Maria was President of the International Association for Impact Assessment in 1997-98, and awarded the IAIA Individual Award in 2002 and the 2015 Lifetime achievement award for contributions made to the advancement of SEA internationally.