Balancing Competing Interests between Natural and Human Environment in the Sphere of Development; A Sri Lankan Perspective

U. S. Liyanage


Balancing interests of the nature and human beings have become one of the mostcomplex problems in the world today. Particularly, making use of a viable chance fordevelopment in any sense is not ignored, in the light of economic needs of a „developingsociety.‟ Sri Lanka too is placed in this category as she looks for economic developmentafter a lengthy civil war. Despite the other regions of the country, rebuilding thedisturbed environment in the North- East region is of the utmost concern of theauthorities in the present. However, it is observed that basic environmental theories areignored in preparing developmental plans in both regions.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) mechanism which is introduced forassessing individual projects is healthy; however, it has not been given the chance toassess the impact of the approval of projects as a whole. Therefore cumulative aspectsof series of projects are ignored by the process as Strategic Environmental Assessment‟(SEA) is not mandatory in Sri Lanka.

This study attempts to find out the rationale of incorporating „StrategicEnvironmental Assessment‟ (SEA) to all developmental plans as a mandatory provisionin environmental management.

This is a comparative study with international law and two other selectedjurisdictions (the USA and UK). It is based on secondary data; therefore, text books onenvironmental law, case law, journal articles, e-based documents and internet are useddepending on the relevance of each case.

The jurisdictions that are selected have incorporated SEA as a necessary policyin their master plans in various contexts of development. It has helped them to revisittheir developmental activities in a way to assess the cumulative aspects of series ofprojects in different fields that affects the safety of the environment.

Hence, it is recommended that the SEA should be a mandatory policy inenvironmental law of Sri Lanka as it provides a more balanced approach towards theassessment of cumulative effects in view of different dimensions of sustainability.

Key words: Environment, SEA, EIA, Sustainable development

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