Laos

Project title Sector SCP practice
AEMAS Utilities sector Product design for sustainability
Cook Stoves Business and products for the poor, Creating Demand for Better Products
Eat Greener Food and beverage Creating Demand for Better Products, Sustainable Supply Chain Management
Efficient Air Conditioners / ASEAN SHINE Electrical equipment industry Eco-labels, Product design for sustainability
LP: Handle with Care Service industry Eco-labels, Environmental Management Systems
SPIN-VCL Textile and leather industry Product design for sustainability
Sustainable Freight and Logistics Sustainable Supply Chain Management
Sustainable Rattan Wood-based industry Cleaner Production, Product design for sustainability

Focal point

Mr.Khamphanh NANTHAVONG 
Director General
Pollution Control Department
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE)

SWITCH-Asia RPSC

Under SWITCH-Asia’s Regional Policy Support Component, UNEP is set to implement a range of coordinated SCP activities in Lao PDR. For this policy support, UNEP’s main partner in Lao PDR is the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE). The following areas have been identified as priority for capacity building and policy support on SCP after a comprehensive needs’ analysis in the country. All of these areas are covered with specific activities and outputs from the SWITCH-Asia RPSC.

Cross cutting activities to build foundation of SCP policy in Lao PDR

  • In order to establish the technical foundation of a national SCP program, a report on SCP in the Lao context will be produced.  Elements of this can be used for the other work  and activities, such as curriculum development. 
  • Organise a multi-stakeholder national roundtable in order to engage key stakeholders and to recognize existing activities and policies relevant to SCP. 
  • Undertake a legal review to integrate SCP and resource efficiency in national policy and legislation.

Education and Training

  • A variety of needs exist, ranging from specific technical needs to more general ones around conceptualization of development and green growth. The latter we can consider as ‘social learning’.
  • Development, integration and delivery of course on SCP at the National University.
  • Development, integration and delivery of a one semester course on sustainable tourism into vocational training
  • SCP training material for the Poverty and Environment Initiative training program for the national assembly.
  • Workshop for SMEs and provincial officials on cleaner production in the steel recycling sector.

Statistics and indicators for SCP - building the evidence base for policy making

Given the special characteristics of Lao PDR (rich natural resource base, rapidly changing urban areas and industrial sector, high priority for poverty eradication and the provision of basic services), a set of SCP indicators that reflect its policy needs will need to be developed.  Three key areas will likely include: (1) alignment with SCP related SDGs, (2) contribution towards MONRE’s reporting requirements and the next NSEDP and (3) special emphasis on the extraction sector and industry SMEs SCP training material for the Poverty and Environment Initiative training program for the national assembly. 

Status of SCP policy framework

Lao does not have one overarching framework policy or national action plan on SCP. Instead, SCP-related objectives are integrated into several national policies and regulations, such as the National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP), the national policy on sustainable hydropower development and the Lao National Adaptation Programme of Action to Climate Change (NAPA).

The Seventh Five-year National Socio-Economic Development Plan (2011-2015)

The seventh National Plan has a clear focus on rapid economic growth and poverty reduction. The country has set formal targets for growth in per capita GDP. Industrialization and modernization are also identified as broadly desirable pathways.

Comprehensive framework laws or a national action plan on ‘SCP’ do not exist. However, a number of national policy agenda items relevant to SCP can be identified. First, the NSEDP expresses support for establishing clean development and carbon credit mechanisms, as well as support for improved urban environmental quality. Second, the Plan identifies a need for regulations to be established to give implementing force to the Environment Law. Third, the notion that economy is embedded within ecosystems which will undergo dangerous and undesired changes (e.g. floods, drought) – thus requiring ecosystem assessment, management and restoration – is on the Lao agenda, through strategic planning efforts such as the Lao National Adaptation Programme of Action to Climate Change (NAPA).

In 2012, UNEP also completed the National Environmental Assessment for Laos, which also provides an overview of key national environmental policies; pages 57-60 of this document contain a policy overview. It is available online here

In addition, the following two frameworks provide further basis for SCP in the country, however further information is needed on to specifically related current progress on SCP within these and other national policy frameworks. Specifically, further information is needed on national policies, programmes or initiatives that support sustainable consumption in the country as well, among government as a consumer, businesses and consumer households as well.

  • National Environment Five-Year Action Plan (NEAP) (2011-15)
  • Consumer Protection Law (30 June 2010) weblink with presentation from Government found here.
  • Eco-labelling: The Laos Organic Standard gives producers, traders and consumers a common definition of organic products. More information here.

A cleaner production project organized by UNIDO ran from 2005 to 2009 and involved almost twenty demonstration projects with a focus on textiles and food processing. The project noted an ‘obvious urgent need for productivity/product quality improvements’ in Lao but at the same time argued that most producers are motivated mainly by financial ‘bottom line’ considerations, rather than possibilities for reducing their environmental footprint.

A Cleaner Production office now exists under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MIC). An ongoing issue is that the domestic advisory services industry for ‘clean production’ is still small despite increased training of local professionals. The MIC report pointed to the important role customer requirements could play, expressed for example through demands for third-party environmental and social certification

The Lao Land Law requires that Master Plans be created for ‘urban’ areas (generally with populations greater than 10,000). Such plans are typically at 1:20,000 or finer scale and specify either the current situation or future plans, subject to rules for permitted land uses, such as maximum building height and coefficients of land use. Master Plans are approved by different authorities depending on the size of the urban area. For example, the Prime Minister’s Office is the approver of Master Plans for the five major cities of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Pakse, Savannakhet, and Thakhek; the Ministry of Communications, Transport, Post and Construction (MCTPC) approves plans for the next tier down in size.

Resource consumption and production

Main Resource Consumption and Resource Efficiency Indicators (2010)

Population (millions) 6.396
GDP (billion USD) 3.988
GDP is in USD exchange rate based on year 2005 and deflated.
Source: UNSD database.
Subject Area Total Per person Per USD$ of GDP
Domestic Material Consumption, DMC
(tonnes, tonnes per capita, kgr per 1USD$)
48,284,226 7.55 12.11
GHG emissions
(kilotonnes,tonnes per capita, kgr per 1USD$)
38,034 5.95 9.54
Total Primary Energy Supply, TPES
(Petajoules, Gigajoules per capita, Megajoules per 1USD$)
135.37 21.17 33.94
Water Use
(Trillion litres, Kilolitres per capita, Litres per 1USD$)
3.49 546.12 875.83
Subject Area Indicator
Population density 2015 (UNESA 2012 revision), population per sq.km 30
GDP per capita (USD), 2013 WB 1,660.7
HDI Rank (2013) UNDP 0.569
Arable land (hectares per person) WB 2012 0.22
Forest cover in % (2010), UNSTATS 68
Material intensity (2010) UNEP 12.11
Per-capita energy use (kg of oil equivalent per capita) 2011, WB NA
Energy intensity (total primary energy consumption per USD of GDP) 2011, EIA 21,536.58
GHG intensity (2010) UNEP 9.54
CO2 emissions (metric tone per capita), 2010, WB 0.3
Number of Middle Class consumers % (2010), ADB 24
Number of people with income < 2USD/day (PPP, USD, %), 2010, ADB 76

Trends in Resource Consumption and Resource Efficiency Indicators (1970-2010)

DE: Domestic Extraction
MI: Material Intensity of the economy
MF: Material Footprint
All other abbreviations explained in the table above

In panel a) we can see that growth in the Lao PDR’s GDP was much faster than the other overview indicators until 2004, when DMC began to grow much more rapidly, followed by population, then GHG emissions (which display intermittent spikes). No TPES value was available for 1970 therefore no indexed value was derived. Growth in DE in panel b) is quite slow until 2003, at which point there is a very large increase in DE of metal ores which quadruples total DE in less than a decade, displacing biomass as the main component of DE. Given Lao PDR’s population of 6.4 million in 2010, the total increase in DE from metal ores is less than 30 million tonnes, which could be accounted for by a very few (or even one) major metallic mine commencing operation. Panel c) indicates that the MF of Lao society is much less than would indicated by DE. Panels d) and e) show MF and EF giving much lower estimates of the material and energy use of Lao society relative to conventional measures. The difference is particularly pronounced when comparing the ongoing increase in TPES per capita since 2000 against the stagnation in EF per capita over the same period. The sharp increase in DMC from 2004 seen in panel a) is reflected in a rapid deterioration (increase) seen from this time for both MI and adjusted MI in panel d). No consistent trend can be identified for GHGs as against GHGF in panel f).

(Source: UNEP CSIRO Indicators for a Resource Efficient and Green Asia and the Pacific, 2015). 

Key references relevant to SCP

  • UN UNDAF Action Plan in Lao PDR, 2012-2015
  • Lao Environment Outlook UNEP 2012, Vientiane, Lao
  • UNDP, 2010a. Accelerating Progress Towards the MDGs. UNDP, Vientiane
  • Ministry of Planning and Investment, 2010. Draft 7th National Socio-economic Development Plan (2011-2015)
  • Ministry of Industry and Commerce, 2009. Highlight 2005-2009 (Annual Report 2009). Cleaner Production Program in Lao PDR. Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Vientiane
  • SWITCH-Asia RPSC SCP Policy Needs Assessment, 2011 

UNEP's relevant activities

The information in the country profiles herein have been obtained through research with firsthand and secondhand sources. The information presented herein cannot be considered as official policy of governments or other official bodies. The SWITCH-Asia Programme cannot be held responsible for the content of the sites to which it provides links or for the availability of servers or links. Information is being continuously updated in order to maintain an up to date country profile. If you would like to contribute information for this profile or have any further comments, please send an email to: SWITCH-PSC@unep.org