National Green Growth Strategy of the Lao PDR

Green Growth may be defined as a strategy for development that harmonizes economic growth with environmental sustainability while improving the eco-efficiency of economic growth and enhancing the synergies between environment and economy. Thus, green growth is development paradigm that sustains economic growth while at the same time ensuring climatic and environmental sustainability. It focuses on addressing the root causes of these challenges while ensuring the creation of the necessary channels for resource distribution and access to basic commodities for the impoverished.

Non-Aligned Movement has called on its Member States to adopt green growth strategies and most of the NAM Member States have implemented this strategy in their national plans for sustainable development. One such prominent example is the formulation of the National Green Growth Strategy of the Lao PDR.

National Green Growth Strategy of the Lao PDR is developed to strengthen the balance between economic expansion, environmental protection and social development to ensure the maintenance of high, stable, sustained and durable economic growth. In particular, this National Green Growth Strategy of the Lao PDR has focused on: (1) encouraging and promoting the economic growth and poverty reduction in a comprehensive, inclusive and fair manner, allowing all persons in the society to receive the benefits from such development; (2) raising the efficiency and effectiveness of the utilization of limited natural resources of the country to ensure optimal benefits; (3) economic growth that is clean and environmentally-friendly and that decreases wastes and greenhouse gas emissions; and (4) increasing the economic resilience to climate change, natural disasters and of global economic uncertainties.

To achieve these objectives and goals, this National Green Growth Strategy of the Lao PDR has identified 4 cross-cutting areas, 7 focused sectors for promotion and 5 supporting sectors. The 4 cross-cutting areas are comprised of: (1) improving the investment environment and management system to make it more efficient and effective; (2) ensuring rural development and poverty reduction to raise the living standard of the rural people and decrease the disparity between urban and rural areas, and to enable poor people in the rural areas to receive the benefits from the economic growth in an inclusive and fair manner; (3) gender roles that will particularly focus on raising the roles and promoting the advancement of women to decrease the differences between men and women in all socio-economic fields; and (4) decreasing the risks and vulnerability of the economy to the climate change and natural disasters.

The 7 focused sectors are comprised of: (1) natural resources and environment sector with the focus on the survey, allocation, planning of use and management of the natural resources with the participation of many sectors, (2) agriculture and forestry sector, (3) industry and commerce sector, (4) energy and mines sector, (5) public works and transport sector, (6) information, culture and tourism sector, and (7) science and technology sector. The 5 supporting or underpinning sectors are comprised of: (1) finance sector, (2) banking sector, (3) education and sports sector, (4) labour and social welfare sector, and (5) health sector.

The Green Growth Strategy assumes more significance as Laos is facing the added economic burden of the COVID-19 pandemic, with GDP growth slowing and poverty increasing by an estimated 1.4-3.1 percent in 2020. As part of the Green Growth Strategy, the government of Laos has undertaken a number of initiatives. One such major initiative was the launching of a $57 million Lao Landscapes and Livelihoods Project on August 5, 2021. This project is intended to generate jobs and income in rural areas by promoting investment in environmentally sustainable and socially-responsible forest and landscape management, and in the preservation of Lao PDR’s natural capital. Designed as part of the 2030 National Green Growth Strategy, the project prioritizes conservation, tourism development, timber and non-timber production to provide economic growth, jobs, and livelihoods in around 600 villages across 8 provinces.

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