Strategic Environmental Assessment and the Sustainable Development Goals: Lessons from Tonga
Tonga faces distinctive environmental, economic and social challenges emanating from increasing development pressures. In recognition of the sustainable development challenges faced by many nations around the world, the United Nations Development Programme adopted a new sustainability perspective in 2015, commonly known as the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a systematic process that integrates environmental considerations into decision making and aims to help achieve sustainable development. This study aimed to find context specific approaches for using SEA to integrate the SDGs into national policy and planning processes of Tonga. An institutional analysis was conducted to understand the current policy planning and decision making processes in response to incorporating the SDGs from the global to the national level of implementation. Key informant interviews with representatives from government, business and communities involved in national planning and decision making processes were conducted in Tonga. From the interviews it is clear that although the SEA concept is fairly new to most of the informants, some of the elements of SEA are already in practice. However, SDGs are not fully understood within government, business and communities. While this research resonates with key findings of Polido et al.,(2014) who advocated linking and promoting the SEA process to enable a change in decision making paradigm and supporting good governance, distinctive cultural and temporal factors are also emerging, supporting the key argument that SEA needs to be context specific in order to advance the sustainability agenda in Tonga.
Advisor: Morgan, Richard; Freeman, Claire
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: School of Geography
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: sustainable development; strategic environmental assessment; Pacific Island Countries; Tonga
Research Type: Thesis