SEA Conference: Advances in European SEA Practice

  • Venue: Technische Universität Berlin, Germany
  • 9-11th September 2020


As concerns about the spread of Coronavirus increase, we’re reaching out with a brief update to let you know how the Tallinn Forum & Berlin TU organising teams are preparing and planning to provide the first notable conference on SEA practice for a decade. 

We just wanted to reassure you that we are on top of this fast-moving situation relating to the Coronavirus outbreak. but

  • We currently have no plans to cancel the conference in September.
  • We are keeping up to date with the latest advice.
  • We are considering the option of a virtual/’Audio-Visual’ conference ticket option if the situation extends through the summer into the autumn and if your Government’s advice remains not to be able to travel
  • If we do need to cancel the conference, you will be the first to know!

In the meantime, if your organisation has already taken the decision to lock down the office and to place travel restrictions on you.  If you're looking for a form of escapism over the next coming weeks, we encourage you to consider submitting an abstracts outlining a successful SEA strategy, approach or methodology – and then envision yourself debating it with new contacts on a warm Berlin evening within one of their famous beer garden.

We are committed to providing you with a networking platform for the improvement and practice of SEA amongst all professionals using SEA as an instrument to improve decision-making within strategic planning, and to promote sustainability.

A Tallinn Forum 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.

Keynote speakers

Johann Köppel

Johann Köppel - Professor of Environmental Assessment and Planning at Technische Universität Berlin, Germany

Thomas Fischer

Thomas Fischer - Professor Department Geography and Planning at University of Liverpool, UK

Lone Kørnøv

Lone Kørnøv - Professor at the Danish Centre for Environmental Assessment, Aalborg University, Denmark

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 practitioners 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.

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. An Academic workshop will be held preceding the main Conference program focusing on “Current Approaches and Methods in SEA Research”  in the morning of September 9th. The conference & its related forums will all be held in English.

Workshop for academics in SEA

The Tallinn Forum is inviting academics in IA to a workshop centred around research methodology in SEA that will be held 9th of September in the morning. The workshop will be chaired by Charlotta Faith-Ell together with Lone Kornov and Gesa Geißler. As participation is limited, please indicate during registration if you will be attending the workshop.

The aim of the workshop is to discuss methods and knowledge production in 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.


Advances in European SEA
Preliminary Programme & Session Themes

The proposed programme sets out the current ideas and session/paper proposals of the Organising Technical Committee. We welcome abstracts for papers along these themes. Topics and Themes are subject to change.

Day 1 - Wednesday, September 9th, 2020

8.30 – 12.30  Workshops (requires prior registration):

Tallinn Workshop 1:  SEA Educational Forum - Methods and knowledge production in SEA research  

Tallinn Workshop 2: Leadership in SEA: Strategic Communication Skills - getting your message across

10.00  Registration Desk Opens

12.30 Welcome & Opening Plenary Keynotes

14.30 Coffee Break

15.00 Breakout Sessions 1:

  • SEA & Ecosystem Services
    • Is there a strong enough partnership to protect European biodiversity?
  • Updates in European SEA legislation
  • SEA & Energy system transformation
    • restructuring National Energy Systems for tomorrow's energy landscape

16.30 Breakout Sessions 2:

  • SEA & Climate Change – Flood Protection
    • Making Space for Water in Our Cities
  • SEA & Corporate sustainability

18.00 Evening Social & Networking

Day 2 - Thursday, September 10th, 2020

8.30 Morning Plenary

  • Keynote Speaker
  • Panel discussion: Best Practice in SEA (The Consultant’s Perspective)

10.00 Coffee break

10.30 Breakout Sessions 3:

  • SEA & Smart Cities
    • A strong planning relationship or sustainable window dressing?
  • Best Practice Papers

12.00 Networking Lunch

13.30 Breakout sessions 4:

  • SEA and Land Use planning
    • Do ‘reasonable’ spatial strategies block sustainable industries
  • Best Practice Papers

15.00 Coffee break

15.30 Breakout sessions 5:

  • SEA & Marine Spatial Planning(Coastal & Offshore)
  • SEA & Digital Innovation
    • From Big Data to operational best practice
  • Best Practice Papers

19.00 Conference Dinner (Prior registration required)

Day 3 - Friday, September 11th, 2020

8.30 Panel discussion

  • SEA legislation, Methods, Tools - Best Practice in SEA
  • Best Practice in SEA (Public Sector delivery)

10.00 Coffee break

10.30 Breakout Sessions 6:

  • Putting the Strategic back into SEA
  • SEA and Regional Land use (German session)

12.00 Lunch

13.30 Closing Plenary

  • SEA & Social Development Goals
    • A tool to delivering achievable SDG (moderated conference debate)
  • Thank You and Farewell
  • Conference Close (around 15.00)

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

On-line registration will open 1st of May.

Logistical information

The conference will be held on the premises of the Technical University Berlin (TU Berlin)

The central campus of TU Berlin is located in the Charlottenburg district, in the western part of the city center. The campus is easily accessed by public transportation via subway line 2 (Ernst-Reuter-Platz station) and by train (Zoologischer Garten and Tiergarten stations) which connect to Berlin Central Station and both Tegel and Schoenefeld Airports. 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

Technische Universität Berlin

Technische Universität Berlin


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Heikki Kalle

Heikki Kalle

Ross Marshall

Ross Marshall

Charlotta Faith-Ell

Charlotta Faith-Ell

Charlotta Faith-Ell

Gesa Geißler

Programme Committee

Gesa Geißler

Alexandra Jiricka-Pürrer

Thomas Fischer

Thomas Fischer

United Kingdom
Iñigo M. Sobrini

Iñigo M. Sobrini

Holmfridur Bjarnadottir

Holmfridur Bjarnadottir

Maria Rosário Partidário

Maria Rosário Partidário

Lone Kørnøv

Lone Kørnøv

Giorgio Baldizzone

Giorgio Baldizzone


Supporters and Sponsors