Regional Resource Centre for the Asia and the Pacific


Strategic Environmental Framework for the Greater Mekong Subregion: Integrating Development and Environment in the Transport and Water Resource Sectors (SEF-GMS)

1999- 2004
Environmental Governance;

The Strategic Environmental Framework (SEF) Project was created to help the Asian Development Bank (ADB) make funding decisions about infrastructure projects in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) which includes countries of Cambodia, Lao Peoples' Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Peoples' Republic of China (Yunnan Province), Thailand and Vietnam. The Project was implemented with consulting inputs from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), in collaboration with the UNEP Regional Resource Centre for Asia and the Pacific (UNEP RRC.AP) and the Mekong River Commission (MRC).

It combines analytical, participatory and policy oriented processes into
a strategic platform for guiding investment decisions in the transport, water resources development and environmental sectors in the GMS. Its ultimate goal is to ensure these investments are environmentally and socially sustainable, and that environmental and social aspects, as well as cumulative impacts, are considered at an earlier stage in the planning process than currently takes place. It involved four broad phases: 1. Inception Phase (November 1998 - September 1999); 2. Analysis Phase (October 1999 - July 2000); 3. Production Phase (August 2000 - December 2000); and 4. Communication Phase (January 2001- April 2001). These phases involved a broad range of consultations with a spectrum of stakeholders and decision-makers in the region.

Many adverse impacts of development projects could be avoided by using better and more informed project preparation and selection methods. Ancillary and flanking policies would also help mitigate, offset or compensate for these impacts. An important aim of the SEF Project is to identify and promote such procedures, policies and actions. The major way in which the Project achieves this is through the development of a user-friendly and menu-driven general-purpose
software package, which offers decision-makers decision support tools and information to help them assess the complex social and environmental impacts of projects and programs.

The SEF platform also proposes, through a regional consultative process, a set of
goals for sustainable human development in the region. These have been converted into region-specific planning assumptions, institution-specific (i.e. ADB-specific) decision guidelines and explicit recommendations to ADB and its development partners (SEF Executive Summary). These interventions are urgently needed in order to harmonise infrastructure projects with the aspirations reflected in the SEF goals.

SEF Products
The SEF Project has produced three key outputs: decision-making tools, analytical methodologies and strategic interventions. Decision-making tools: A set of databases, general-purpose software and methodologies have been designed to help decision-making about infrastructure investments in the GMS region. Early warning of potential impacts from development projects is a key feature of the SEF software. This allows the user to overlay proposed projects onto GMS maps and view basic information on the potential project impacts, such as conflicts with protected areas or other proposed projects, and possible cumulative environmental impacts.

Analytical methodologies: The production of the SEF 1.0 involved a number of analytical methodologies, including the identification and analysis of hotspots; review of case study projects at various stages of implementation; and framing of different development scenarios. These methodologies are key outputs of the SEF project.

Strategic interventions: The SEF Project has also defined a set of goals for sustainable development in the region. These constitute an essential framework for guiding key actions and interventions and have been formulated with a long-term vision. Explicit recommendations to ADB and its development partners have been made in the form of strategic interventions urgently needed to harmonise infrastructure projects with the aspirations reflected in the SEF goals. These have been elaborated as proposals including a justification for the proposal, the scope of the activities and potential implementing arrangements.

The SEF Process
The outputs were produced through the SEF process, which comprises three intertwined elements: participatory, analytical, and empirical. The SEF process is an output in itself, which must be sustained as a platform for stakeholder collaboration to keep the SEF products 'alive'.

The empirical process collected and consolidated data on socio-economic variables, natural resources (mainly from GIS-based sources), institutions, legal and statutory provisions, development plans, project inventories and project implementation. The data were collected from secondary sources as well as from local communities, NGOs, and qualified observers (SEF Report Volume I).

The analytical process focused on the weaknesses in existing systems of assessment and project decisions. In particular, six case studies of projects in various stages of implementation assessed the effectiveness of existing assessment methodologies and procedures and the experience of people affected by the projects (SEF Report Volume IV). Special attention has been given to the role of public participation generally and in the assessment and selection processes of the case studies. Second, five priority hotspots within the subregion (SEF Report Volume III) were identified; areas with high levels of ecological value and social vulnerability which have come under stress from development projects. They were identified through a consultative process, integrating the knowledge of QOs into a digital and spatial framework. While this list is far from definitive, the initial consensus allowed more in-depth collection of information from GIS-based, published, as well as local sources. Third, and more broadly, secondary data were collected on key environmental, economic, and social variables and trends in the region including information on development plans and investment programs. The focus of the review has been on the transportation and energy sectors, and to see how environmental and social issues are currently incorporated into the decision-making and implementation cycle for projects within these sectors (SEF Report Volume II). Finally, a scenarios workshop was organised to elicit expert perceptions of the region's future. The scenario approach can help identify possible future paths of change, as well as the policy choices influencing those changes.

The participatory process The participatory process focused on: (a) identifying environmental and social issues, particularly related to transboundary and cumulative impacts in the transportation (primarily roads), water resources development (mainly hydropower generation and transmission), and environmental sectors; (b) formulating recommendations and prioritising key actions to address these issues; and (c) highlighting knowledge gaps and the investments needed for filling them, e.g. capacity-building, support for regional cooperation, and strengthening of management systems. This process involved consulting a broad range of stakeholders, including government officials, NGOs, representatives of international and regional organisations (e.g. MRC, UNEP RRC.AP, ADB), local communities (especially in the preparation of case studies), a broad cross-section of international and local experts (qualified observers). Consultations took place through national level and subregional workshops, bilateral meetings etc. These consultations produced a consensus on the goals and principles of the framework, helped select hotspots and case studies, provided access to local information, and generated a series of strategic interventions for the ADB to consider.

Created at 2/2/2015 5:44 PM by Sengja Jangmaw
Last modified at 11/22/2017 5:08 PM by System Account