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Each of these organizations was contacted by the researchers with a view to defining the practitioner to be interviewed. Respondents were invited by phone or e-mail. In some cases, the practitioner proposed that the meeting include other practitioners from the same team, what was accepted by the study, totaling 11 interviewees. The group of respondents included four men and seven women, all with higher education undergraduate, graduate or postgraduate degree , who act or have acted as managers or technical consultants of public or private environmental companies.

The interviews were conducted in eight face-to-face sessions, in seven Brazilian capitals, between July and August The date, time and place of interview were chosen by the practitioners. Each interview lasted one and a half to two hours.

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After the participants indicated their consent to participate in the study by signing the document, the interview began. To ensure anonymity, each practitioner was identified by a letter. The research instrument was a standardized and semi-structured questionnaire composed of open questions. The interviews were audio recorded, with the consent of the interviewees. The recordings have been transcribed literally. The Content Analysis technique was applied to the content of the answers.

The following are the nine GP considered most relevant. For [9], in environmental assessments, a GP is the definition of a Term of Reference TR that specifies the scope of the work, its content and the methods to be employed. TR is an instrument developed in the pre-assessment stage and often before hiring the team that will lead to SEA, i.

A poorly produced TR can cause serious damage to the conduct of the process and to the final result of the assessment. Developing an appropriate TR is definitely a GP [23]. We had a Term of Reference to follow. Often we disagreed, because the Term of Reference had been made based on a SEA focused on another sector [oil].

So there were issues that had nothing to do with the program we were analyzing. Practitioner A.

The TR should establish the guidelines for the assessment, but at the same time, it must be adequately flexible to allow practitioners to act within the technical context. The participation of specialists in the elaboration of TR is fundamental and practitioners should be encouraged to dialogue with the contracting party in order to improve it [22].

You have to discuss the Term of Reference very much. It is not a very easy thing. Usually you do not know the sector, you do not know the region, so the Term of Reference is a critical point. This aspect has to be very clear between the executors and the contractors, so as not to have controversy, not to be charged. Practitioner B. Experienced practitioners can add value to the methodological aspect of the assessment [22]. The importance of team building is highlighted by practitioners who have participated in different SEA processes:.

You must have the understanding that you can change the team. Sometimes there is no way, it has to change. Otherwise, that component [subject of assessment under the responsibility of that person] will be impaired. We have to know who to work with. Know the resistance of people to know how to break this resistance or even change. It is important that the person working in an SEA is able to listen, accept, argue, defend their idea, but to be open if they need to change.

Practitioner C. It has several biologists, because one looks at the entomofauna, another the herpetofauna, etc. They are people who do the work, the coordinator goes on synthesizing, transforming into text, and puts it into the EIA. In SEA we started out a bit like this, having three, four biologists, thinking that there was this question of analysis, of diagnosis, which is very difficult. There was a big team, about thirteen people at the beginning. The discussions were not productive. Then, we simplified this team and closed in a total of six people.

We have seen that the team cannot be very big, because this interdisciplinary interaction has to happen constantly, in the day to day, and if the team is very big, it is lost. Even being a small team, this open posture, with respect for knowledge and allowing the dialogue, this convergence was fundamental.

Practitioner D. These team building issues clearly exemplify GP that are not detected through the evaluation of a report, but only through lessons learned by those who have effectively participated in SEA elaboration processes. SEA is a tool that is characterized by methodological flexibility and different approaches [24]. This system facilitates the incorporation of elements of sustainability, influencing the selection of environmentally adjusted alternatives in the initial stages of decision making [12].

It is, in fact, a crucial procedure for the success of both processes [4] [25]. In this way, it constitutes a GP. One of the measures was the decision to make the SEA at the time the plan is being drawn up. I think this is good practice. It was essential we have worked in parallel. Practitioner E. The environmental assessment has to start with the program itself and not at a later stage. If the government thinks strategically in a program, the environmental step has to be inserted.

In the budgetary sphere, resources are released to make a project, and after, environmentally, it becomes unworkable. Then, we try to mend something that is difficult to achieve, when the environmental assessment could have identified these difficulties. Today, in Brazil, it is left to identify this in the stage of EIA. Practitioner F. The effect that this has on the qualitative improvement of the plan was pointed out by one interviewee:.

Although this GP has clear positive effects, it should be noted that its employment is still limited. The participation of professionals from the contracting entity of the SEA during the study in a manner that is integrated with the SEA team is another GP highlighted by the practitioners. It should be noted that the contracting entity may be the proponent of the initiative under evaluation entrepreneur or the governmental control agency. A good practice is the contact with the environmental agency that requested the study or with any other body that has requested it.

It is important to do this during the elaboration and not only at the end, when delivering the product ready. It is a very positive experience when it is done this way. Practitioner G. An interviewee highlights that in an SEA the contracting entity did not directly follow the study but hired a third company to do so:. An aspect I consider important is the participation of the contracting [entity] aiming to learn.

enter site Those who hired us had to have a team accompanying the work on a day-to-day basis, as a check-up, but that did not exist. The contracting entity accompanied our work through another entity. If the contracting hire another SEA, it will have to hire the entity again. There was no person from the contracting who did this follow-up. I consider this very damaging. We had the knowledge, we learned. But the contracting itself cannot make another SEA.

There are also situations in which the contracting entity oversees the work, but without effective involvement:. Practitioner H. The monitoring of the study provides learning and critical awareness for the contracting entity, enhancing the quality of the decision making, and provides better conditions for the monitoring of the PPP when it is implemented.

One of the basic principles of SEA is to implement an independent review system that provides quality control of the process [15], although this is not often done [1]. The result is a valuable exchange of knowledge and lessons learned, associated with mentoring an SEA team who may be less familiar with the tool and its methodology. The participation of other SEA teams, as a specialized group and with previous experiences in SEA, to interact and build together with us, was very rich. I think this is a good practice. Practitioner I. It was important the participation of other SEA staff guiding us.

Involvement may occur on the initiative of one or both groups, but is most often triggered by provisions previously established at a contractual level and is therefore compulsory. You have a discussion at the same level. They are doing the work and you have, in a way, accumulated knowledge, and you discuss, interact, and only improve. The implementation of an SEA presupposes that its indications or recommendations will be adopted, with the monitoring of PPP effects on sustainability factors.

Due its strategic conception, the role, the action mode and the outcomes of SEA are extremely linked to the institutional context in which it develops [24]. The importance of this approach was delimited by a practitioner:. But for us [Brazil], no. For me, it is a critical point of this whole process.

Practitioner J.