46th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Enlargement, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean", August 30th - September 3rd, 2006, Volos, Greece
During the past few decades there appeared to be an important increase in the interest about the environmental issues, the sustainability and the better management of development, respecting the environmental resources. New legislations, national and international (i.e. the European Union) influence, nowadays, the relationship between the development and the environment. Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of policies, plans and programmes, introduced by the European Commission and incorporated to the national legislation of the member states, is trying to achieve sustainable development always respecting the environment. It is widely believed that SEA have the ability to influence the environmental and sustainable nature of strategic decisions and to provide efficient, integrated and sustainable policies and planning frameworks in order to support and help the development process of projects. Sustainability has been developed as a very popular term for planners, politicians, experts, businesses, local authorities, non governmental orginisations and the public. The role of SEA is closely connected to the idea of sustainability since it was recognized as a mechanism for the success of sustainable development. The added value that is attributed to the environment through the SEA process is the ability to assess the economic and social impacts of plans or programmes, so that the plans or programmes could become sustainable. In order to apply the principles of sustainable development into plans and programmes someone should not target only to the natural and ecological issues but also should extend to the sectors of social prosperity and economic development. Strategic Environmental Assessment constitutes a motive and at the same time a challenge for all the EU member states in order to promote a more sustainable way of assessing the impacts of plans and programmes. A large number of the EU member states have incorporated the SEA into their national legislation, while some others, including Greece, are expected to incorporate it in the current year of 2006. Applying SEA to Greek programmes and plans, as well as to all the other countries of the EU the sustainability of the countries could be strengthened and confirmed.