SEA Conference: Advances in European SEA Practice

  • Venue: Goldsmith College, University of London
  • 8th Nov: Current advances in research methodology and teaching in SEA
  • 9-10th Nov: SEA Conference

A Network for European Environmental Assessment Practitioners

The Tallinn Forum, is a professional practice forum established in partnership with the Estonian Environmental Institute (EKI). The objectives of the Tallinn Forum are to provide networking opportunities for the exchange of best practice knowledge, debate and research between practitioners in government, consultancy, industry and academia.

Tallinn Forum events present a unique opportunity for European and international IA professionals to promote best practice in EIA and SEA in Europe, enhance the impact of IA within sustainable development and decision making, take part in continuing professional development, and to discuss regulatory amendments impacting on practice.

Register Now and Pay Latter!

Participants are free to register now in order to submit an abstract and to reserve an early place at both the academic workshop and main conference. However priority registration will be given to those who reserve and pay before the registration deadline. The Tallinn Forum organisers recommend booking early to reserve your place.

Keynote speakers

Kaupo Heinma

Kaupo Heinma - Vice Chancellor of the Estonian Ministry of Environment, former EA researcher and practitioner.

jenny stafford

Jenny Stafford - Associate Director, Temple Group, UK, Experienced SEA consultant & SEA leader with a track record in infrastructure, sustainable communities & the natural environment.

Jos Arts - Professor of Infrastructure and Environmental Planning at University of Groningen, the Netherlands.

Marten Kaevats

Marten Kaevats

Theme and focus

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is part of a family of related impact and decision-making tools that have developed globally since the 1990s. The European Union and its Member States, in partnership with regions of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, has been one of the most active supporters in the application of SEA as a driver for sustainable decision making, incorporating SEA into the heart of its legal instruments. Frameworks for SEA have also emerging internationally and within key economic development sectors. SEA practice has also extended into donor assistance activities, particularly within the lending operations of International Finance Institutions.

Key issues we are inviting consideration and contributory papers within this complex and evolving field include:

  • How to design effective legal & policy frameworks for SEA enabling its optimal application in planning, programming and policy-making?
  • What are the critical interfaces between SEA and the needs of decision-makers? What advances in SEA practice have occurred since 2010, and has the application of SEA successfully integrated consideration of economic, social and environmental implications into higher tier development proposals?
  • What experience have practitioners had in applying SEA tools? What methods can be effectively applied in SEA in addition to the traditional impact assessment techniques known from project-level EIA? How do these vary between planning, programming and policy making levels respectively
  • What lessons in current practice can be drawn from recent case studies? Do these stand out as beacons of good practice or lessons to be learnt from?
  • How can national or regional scale public participation in SEA ever be carried out effectively? What are the unique characteristics, processes and tools in enabling informative stakeholder consultations within SEA?

This inaugural conference of the Tallinn Forum on Advances in European SEA Practice provides a rare international opportunity for Europe’s SEA community of leading Practitoner and administrators to gather and debate current practice.

The conference will offer plenaries, focused workshops and free paper sessions to discuss specific topics and sectors of SEA interest and concern, examine best practice case studies and learn how SEA is influencing the promotion of sustainable development.

Priority is given to:

  • partnership case studies between SEA client & consultants that elaborate the main themes of the workshops
  • papers that respond to position papers

Since the focus of the conference will be to promote best practice, the Program & Technical Committees will review submitted case studies and papers and invite those that are most likely to effectively stimulate discussion or debate.

There will be opportunities to present short research papers during some sessions, as well as posters. For an additional fee, an Academic seminar will be held preceding the Conference on Current Approaches within the Pedagogy of SEA as well as Training courses on SEA topics during the week before the conference start. The conference & its related forums will all be held in English.


SEA Practice in

  • Spatial planning (at national, regional & local community level)
  • Regional development planning
  • Infrastructure & Network development (Transportation, Energy & Water)
  • Natural Resource & Waste Management
  • Sustainable Food & Biodiversity protection
  • International & Trans-boundary relationships (trade agreements, resource protection)

Best Practice in linking SEA with

  • Policy, Plans and Programmes
  • Sustainability agendas
  • Health & Social Welfare
  • Future lower tier EIA programmes
  • Public participation & consultation

Improving standards and building capacity for SEA

  • Developing institutional and resources capacity for SEA to improve guidance
  • Proportionate SEA Practice & Environmental Reporting
  • Certification, Competency, Training and professional development in SEA
  • Leadership in SEA
  • SEA research and development
  • The consideration of Alternatives in SEA
  • Assessment of cumulative impacts

SEA Practice in Climate Change Adaptation

  • biodiversity adaptation and habitat creation
  • promoting sustainable development
  • Adaptation to Future Climate Change (Flood & Coastal Risk Management, Urban Design, River Basin and Watershed Management)

Workshop for academics in SEA

The Tallinn Forum is inviting academics in IA to a workshop centred around teaching and research methodology in SEA that will be held 8th of November. The fee of the workshop will be 95€. The workshop will be chaired by Charlotta Faith-Ell together with Lone Kornov and Gesa Geißler.

The aim of the workshop is:

  • to discuss methods and knowledge production in SEA research,
  • to discuss teaching and learning in SEA.

SEA research

Much of the early research on Environmental Assessment (EA) was carried out in the form of ex-post evaluation of EA documents (i.e., evaluation of EA quality, implementation, and outcomes). This was primarily achieved through document review and practitioner interviews post decision. However, SEA researchers have now concluded that SEA research needs to get closer to SEA practice, i.e. evaluations of on-going processes.

This part of the workshop aims at discussing research methods and knowledge production in SEA and thereby move SEA research approaches from ex-post evaluations towards more participatory or evaluation research. Furthermore, as SEA research is very applied, it will be of academic interest to discuss the dissemination of research results. The ability of SEA researchers to influence the take up of their research findings by practitioners and decision makers will be of increasing importance in influencing the direction of future SEA practice.

Teaching and learning in SEA

Several research studies show that there is a high demand for SEA training among practitioners. At the same time there is a long tradition of training of SEA practitioners as well as teaching SEA at universities. Quite often one can see courses that equally mix teaching with training…. However, within the field of SEA, there has been little discussion on teaching and learning in SEA. Also, in light of the new requirements on EIA ‘competence’, questions have been raised within the field of SEA with regards to what teaching in SEA is supposed to deliver?

This part of the workshop aims at reflecting and discussing SEA teaching and learning both for university students and practitioners.


Conference Day 1

Opening Plenary - Introductions
Heikki Kalle
Keynote Message
Kaupo Heinma
Digital shift and its consequences on sustainability
Marten Kaevats

Infrastructure, sustainable communities & the natural environment

Jenny Stafford
Lunch – College Refectory

Breakout Sessions 1:

  • SEA & the Autonomous Vehicle
  • Updates in European SEA legislation
  • Best Practice in SEA (The Consultant’s Perspective)
Coffee break

Breakout Sessions 2:

  • SEA & Smart Cities – A strong planning relationship or sustainable window dressing
  • Best Practice in SEA (Government policy)
  • Ecosystem Services & SEA – Is there a strong enough partnership to protect European biodiversity?
Evening programme

Conference Day 2


Parallel Sessions 3:

  • SEA – A tool to achieve SDG (open debate/panel)
  • SEA’s role in restructuring National Energy Systems for tomorrow's energy landscape
  • Best Practice in SEA (Public Sector delivery)
Heikki Kalle
Coffee break

Breakout Sessions 4:

  • Do ‘reasonable’ spatial strategies block sustainable industrie
  • SEA - Promoting low carbon economies
  • Improving standards and building capacity for SEA

Breakout Session 5:

  • Digital innovation and SEA - From Big Data to operational best practice
  • SEA & Climate Change - Making Space for Water
  • Best Practice & Industry/Short papers
Summing Up of Key Issues
Jos Arts
Open Forum
Heikki Kalle
Conference Close
Ross Marshall


Academics Workshop

Coffee and registration
Introduction to the workshop
Charlotta Faith-Ell
Teaching and learning in SEA
Introduction of the IAIA best practice principles
Charlotta Faith-Ell

Workshop I

How we frame our teaching depending on target groups and purpose? Content – pedagogy-skills

Gesa Geißler & Charlotta Faith-Ell
Methods and knowledge production in SEA research
Historical development
Gesa Geißler
Research impact and change agent methods
Lone Kornov

Workshop II

Which methods are used today? Challenges in SEA research methodology? Future of SEA research with regards to methodology?

Lone Kornov & Gesa Geißler
Summing up of the day
Workshop closure

Who should attend?

The conference will provide a unique forum for discussion amongst European Town & Country Planners, IA Professionals, Government Officials, Researchers and NGO leaders. Participants from other international countries and institutions are equally welcome to participate.

Conference registration

This 2 day conference will have a single registration fee of

395€ (excludes VAT)

The conference will host a maximum of 300 participants. Due to the limited space available, we encourage all interested applicants to register early.

On-line registration is now open

Logistical information

The conference will be held on the premises of the Goldsmith College, University of London


The University campus is in the south-east of Central London close to Greenwich and Deptford, both of which have strong maritime connections. The Goldsmith’s campus is easily accessed from two London Overground stations, New Cross and New Cross Gate with both running frequent tube connections into the centre of London. New Cross Gate has mainline services running north to London Bridge (for Luton Airport) and south to London Victoria (for Heathrow Airport) and direct to Gatwick Airport. A wide variety of accommodation types can be accessed throughout the area.

Hosted by

Tallinn Forum

Tallinn Forum


The Estonian Environment Institute, Estonia

leading green

Leading Green, UK



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Heikki Kalle

Heikki Kalle

Ross Marshall

Ross Marshall

Charlotta Faith-Ell

Charlotta Faith-Ell

Programme Committee

Iñigo M. Sobrini

Iñigo M. Sobrini

Holmfridur Bjarnadottir

Holmfridur Bjarnadottir

Gesa Geißler

Gesa Geißler

Paul Eijsen

Paul Eijsen

Matthew Cashmore

Matthew Cashmore

Maria Rosário Partidário

Maria Rosário Partidário

Lone Kørnøv

Lone Kørnøv

Elsa João

Elsa João

Scotland, UK
Davide Geneletti

Davide Geneletti

Giorgio Baldizzone

Giorgio Baldizzone


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