Vientiane 30 August 2022-- Solar-powered lights in public parks are the sign of things to come in two cities in Lao PDR. The lights are the result of pilot projects showcasing the potential of urban low-emissions development. City officials in Kaysone Phomvihane and Pakse Cities have gained knowledge about the impacts of climate change and the possibilities of integrated climate action.

The pilot projects are part of the Urban LEDS project, which was implemented by UN-Habitat and ICLEI, and funded by the EU. Phase II was implemented from 2017 – 2021, with implementation in Lao PDR beginning in 2018. The project supported 60 cities in 8 countries to implement integrated low emission and resilient development. Phase II was tailored to meet the specific needs of the participating countries and cities.

Recognising that urban development does not occur in an isolated context, the Urban LEDS II project carried out a vertical integration mapping exercise which identified the entities involved in low-emissions and resilient development from national to city level. This provided baseline data to guide further activities.

In Lao PDR, there was a knowledge gap identified between the national level and local levels. In response, the project developed a set of guidelines to inform local level officials about climate-responsive development. At the same time, capacity was built in the use of local emissions measurement, and climate action planning. Climate-risk vulnerability assessment reports were developed for Pakse, Kaysone Phomvihane, Outhoumphone and Bachiengchaleunsouk and the first two local level greenhouse gas inventories in Lao PDR were completed.

Lao PDR is transitioning towards sustainable development which embraces the concept of green growth. This aligns well with the EU partnership strategy for Lao PDR. As explained by  Baiba Zarina, Charge-d-Affairs of the EU, “Promoting green and sustainable development is at the core of the EU and Team Europe strategy in Lao PDR 2021-2025, and it is also fully in line with the Laos’ Green Growth Strategy 2030. We are therefore glad to support the Urban LEDS-II project that aims to develop environment-friendly, low-emission urban development plans in Champassak and Savannakhet provinces. Developing green cities is a key priority of our Green Team Europe initiative, and we look forward to fostering more activities contributing to climate adaptation and mitigation.”

The knowledge and momentum generated by the project has led to a request from the Government for the project to be expanded to Vientiane Capital City and Luang Prabang City. It has been suggested that a third phase could focus on capacity building to enhance vertical and horizontal integration of climate action in support of national and local strategies and policies; supporting the project preparation and fundraising process; and promoting peer to peer exchanges on urban climate action, leading to an increase in urban stakeholders' capacity to implement climate action. This continued climate action has the potential to make a substantial impact on the trajectory of urban development in the participating cities, and as exemplars for other Lao cities. According to  Sommad Pholsena, Vice President of the Lao National Assembly and the former Minister of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, “The UN-Habitat/ICLEI project, funded by the EU, is a valuable contribution to the country’s great goal of green growth. The Government is highly appreciative of UN-Habitat’s partnership and values the agency’s contribution towards the country’s socio-economic development goals.”

More information is available online about Urban LEDS II in Lao PDR. Resources produced by the project are also available online.