The International Training Programme on Strategic Environmental Assessment (ITP SEA) aims to strengthen SEA capacity in countries in Africa and Asia – the alumni seminar's goal was to motivate and inspire recent programme participants.
On 15 February, 24 alumni of the International Training Programme on Strategic Environmental Assessment (ITP SEA) from both public institutions and the private sector gathered for a networking day at the White Sand Hotel in Dar es Salaam. The overall objective of the alumni seminar was to strengthen connections and bring together Tanzanians who have participated in the SEA training in different cohorts over the years.
The event allowed alumni to undertake a broad evaluation of the ITP SEA through a guided reflection on its tangible outcomes and impacts, as well as a critical review of the process and identification of key lessons. Perhaps most importantly for the participants, the seminar aimed to promote cross-agency collaboration and learning while strengthening the national ITP SEA network in Tanzania. This was the one of 11 alumni seminars being conducted or in the process over the following month across Asia and Africa.
Facilitator Lotta Adelstål with SEA participants Nzori Abdallah Kinero (left) and Tober Richard Tibikunda (right)
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) funds the ITP SEA. In collaboration with the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, NIRAS has managed the programme over the past seven years, and 330 participants from Africa and Asia – 47 from Tanzania alone – have gone through the training. Organisations and agencies with a focus on the energy sector, including government agencies, non-governmental organisations, or private enterprises, nominate the participants. The training has clearly had an impact as SEA is now part of the curricula at the University of Dar es Salaam and the State University of Zanzibar, and SEA national guidelines and training manuals have been developed.
As a mentor, one of my key lessons is how important it is to hold judgements and wishful thinking, and meet participants and their organisations where they are and where they want to go, not where I think they ought to be. Sometimes steps are small, and that is all right as long as they are in the right direction.
Participants are provided with expert mentorship, spend time sharing knowledge in Sweden, and implement a SEA “change project” within their own organisation over a 14-month period. The mentors are involved throughout the process. Two of the key programme mentors facilitated the alumni seminar. Hussein Sosovele is a professor at the Institute of Resource Assessment (IRA) at the University of Dar es Salaam and has extensive SEA experience. He has been involved in many assessments in Tanzania, including the very first SEA in 2002. In his role at the IRA, he has been involved in more than half of the SEAs which have been carried out in Tanzania. Lotta Adelstål is a facilitator and expert in organisational development and behavioural change. Both played an important role in the seminar but more importantly have guided many ITP SEA participants successfully through the training.