Assessment of Transboundary Environmental Effects in the Pearl River Delta Region: Is There a Role for Strategic Environmental Assessment?

Simon Marsden

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    22 Citations (Scopus)


    China's EIA Law does not require transboundary proposals to be assessed, despite recognition of this globally, for example in the Espoo Convention and Kiev Protocol, and in the European EIA and SEA Directives. In a transboundary context assessment within a state is unusual, as regulating these effects is primarily about the relationship between states. However where a state has more than one legal system such as in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) Region of southern China, transboundary effects should also be addressed. Yet despite the geographical connections between Guangdong Province in mainland China (where the EIA Law applies) and the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions (which have their own provisions, neither of which requires transboundary assessments), EIA and SEA are carried out separately. Coordinated or joint approaches to transboundary assessment are generally absent, with the legal autonomy of Hong Kong and Macau a major constraint. As a result institutional responses at the policy level have developed. The article considers global experiences with regulating transboundary EIA and SEA, and analyses potential application to land use, transport and air and water planning in the PRD Region. If applied, benefits may include prevention or mitigation of cumulative effects, broader public participation, and improvements to environmental governance. The PRD Region experience may encourage China to conduct and coordinate EIA and SEA processes with neighbouring states, which has been non-existent or extremely limited to date.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)593-601
    Number of pages9
    JournalEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


    • China
    • Hong Kong
    • Macau
    • Pearl River Delta Region
    • Transboundary environmental impact assessment
    • Transboundary strategic environmental assessment


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