Critical success factors |
Time and Money |
Sean Light |
The following are some frequently asked questions raised by applicants of SEAN.
1. Is SEAN an integrated assessment tool? Does it allow formulating a sustainable development strategy?
No, SEAN is not a fully integrated planning or assessment tool, but it does clarify linkages between the environmental and socio-economic sustainability. As such, it contributes to an integrated planning process. Other tools can be used alongside SEAN in order to develop a more complete and integrated assessment or planning, for instance poverty analysis, economic analysis, market analysis, etc..
2. Is SEAN a planning tool?
SEAN is not a fully developed planning tool, but will greatly support strategic planning and preceding analysis or diagnosis, to define a vision and strategic orientations as elements of any strategic plan. To use SEAN as a full-fledged planning tool would require additional tools such as those for: spatial planning, human resources management, financial planning and designing action plans.
3. Why is SEAN complex and time consuming? Can we make short cuts in the methodology?
The relations between environment and human society are complex. SEAN aims to make these relations clear and transparent in a systematic way. Simplifications risk to overlook critical sustainability issues (marginalised communities, fragile ecosystems, emerging threats). A consistent analysis and planning will pay back through more sustainable impacts. One should look at the 10 SEAN steps as a set of tasks to be addressed sooner or later, but not necessarily in a detailed and full-fledged manner all at once.
The SEAN toolbox is a complete reference, but do not use it as a textbook. To meet the demand for more simplicity, a 'quick scan' approach was developed (see the 'scoping page'). However, a 'quick scan' neglects the learning process, inter-active participation, and may end up with insights and results that are not very new. For a 'quick scan' to be effective, much attention will need to be given to the use of good information sources and the selection of well-informed and motivated participants.
4. Can SEAN be used to highlight micro-macro linkages?
Most available analysis and planning tools focus at the analysis of the local (micro) or regional (meso) context. SEAN establishes linkages with macro-issues (political, institutional, economic), through the actor-in-context analysis (step 6) and the opportunity analysis (step 8). This includes insights in linkages between markets, political actors and financial transactions at an extra-regional scale (referred to as the 'trade-cycle-analysis').This is a particularly powerful element of the SEAN method.
5. What is the usefulness of planning complex and unpredictable realities?
Strategic plans are easily outdated in the course of unpredictable and new events, particularly as complexity and uncertainties become paramount. The key to successful interventions is to have a relatively open-ended approach, a clear vision and strategic orientations, and a flexible operational management system including a proper impact monitoring system. To identify key sustainability indicators there is need to know the sustainability key issues, and this is where SEAN comes in.