Exploring pluralism – Different stakeholder views of the expected and realised value of strategic environmental assessment (SEA)

Lydia Cape, Francois Retief, Paul Lochner, Thomas Fischer, Alan Bond

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This paper explores the concept of pluralism by evaluating different stakeholder views on the expected and realised value of strategic environmental assessment (SEA). The research followed a single embedded case study approach (of a national-level SEA for renewable energy planning in South Africa) and engaged with four different stakeholder groups, namely government, industry, conservation groups, and interested and affected parties (IAPs). A total of 21 different value expectations (VEs) across all four stakeholder groups were identified. However, stakeholder groups contrast significantly in terms of VEs, with government concerned more with process and mandate; industry with cost, efficiency and certainty; conservation groups with data and technical aspects; and the IAPs with local scale issues. In terms of realisation of VEs the results suggest that SEA does provide opportunities for learning; focussing project level EIA and providing spatial guidance on the location of projects. However, SEA was less successful in realising integration of decision making and alignment of policy within government. Recognition and better understanding of the pluralistic nature of expected and realised VEs could potentially improve the legitimacy of SEA processes and methodologies if they are designed and implemented to accommodate pluralism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32–41
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
Early online date7 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • strategic environmental assessment
  • pluralism
  • stakeholders
  • purpose
  • value
  • effectiveness
  • follow-up
  • renewable energy planning

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