Indicators have become one of the primary tools for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in the Chinese context, but what does this use of indicators mean for communication within the SEA processes? This article explores how the selection and use of indicators influence the communication between different stakeholders involved in SEA. The article provides a conceptual communication model covering directions and level of communication. Using this model on empirical findings from interviews with two specific SEA cases and from general experience collected through an online survey, the results suggest that indicators are used mainly in internal communication although a change of approach, with more external communication and stakeholder engagement, is taking place as a consequence of working with indicators in the SEA. However, the external communication mainly involves the experts and other relevant sectors (planning, energy, land use, forestry, etc.), the involvement of the public and NGOs is still not well implemented in Chinese SEA practice, and the direction of communication is mainly one-way channel of providing information rather than a two-way channel of dialogue and participation.
Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 2013, Vol 43, p. 121-128