Integrated Environmental Management (IEM) is a key instrument of South Africa's National Environmental Management Act (NEMA).South Africa's NEMA promotes the integrated environmental management of activities that may have a significant effect (positive and negative) on the environment. IEM provides the overarching framework for the integration of environmental assessment and management principles into environmental decision-making. It includes the use of several environmental assessment and management tools that are appropriate for the various levels of decision-making such as a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).The role of SEA is determined by its place in the decision making process. SEA can be used to assess a proposed policy, plan or programme that has already been developed; or it can be used to develop, evaluate and modify a policy, plan or programme during its formulation. This distinction is dependent on the stage in the decision-making process at which the SEA is undertaken and the stakeholders involved. In addition, SEA can have both an advocacy role, where its primary purpose is to raise the profile of the environment, and an integrative role, where the focus is on combining environmental, social and economic considerations. Through the integration of environmental, social and economic objectives into the policy and planning process, SEA has the potential to assist in the implementation of the concept of sustainable development. SEA also has the potential to promote an integrated system of planning that incorporates sustainability objectives into the planning process.