Forests Asia 2014 – Akhom Tounalom, Day 1 Opening Plenary Discussion Panel

Watch Akhom Tounalom, Vice Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Lao PDR, speak during the opening plenary discussion on green growth in Southeast Asia. From the first day of Forests Asia 2014.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Forests Asia Summit, 5-6 May 2014, Jakarta, #ForestsAsia

Akhom Tounalom’s speech:

Dr.  Peter Holmgren, Minister, Academic, distinguish quest

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, on behalf of MONRE, Lao PDR, I would like to gratitude government and international organization to create this meaning event.

As you know, Lao PDR has been country with rapid and our target to leave the status as least Developed Country by 2020. We achieved an average 8,2%  growth on average in the past years. The government has an open policy for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Our natural resources are our biggest assets, with over 40% of the country in forests, with large mineral deposits and with numerous tributaries of the Mekong providing hydropower potential.

It is against this backdrop that the question of sustainability of the Laotian economic growth becomes highly relevant and real. We cannot deny that Lao PDR is faced with many challenges on our way forward. We are already experiences the changes in climate and environmental damages associated with development: droughts and floods are increasing, the pollution and traffic jams in our capital Vientiane are getting worse.

Against this background, it is thereby imperative that we follow a growth path that is sustainable and green and clean cities, develop the service sector, including sustainable tourism and invest in sustainable agriculture. We intend to develop Laos PDR as a transportation hub and transforming Laos from a landlocked country to a land-liked country. Becoming the battery of South East Asia is linked to our ambitions goal of increase the forest cover to 70 % by 2020. We acknowledge the necessity to protect our watershed and biodiversity. Until today, Lao PDR designated 8,2 million ha of Protection Forests, 4,7 million ha of Conservation Forests and 3,1 million ha of Production Forest. Much has to be done to effectively manage these resources, however steps are underway to address the challenges we are facing. An environmental protection law has been passed last year by our National Assembly, the national land policy, land law and forestry law are currently revised. The Lao Government policy of Forest Management have to offer in context of Green Growth and Poverty Reduction as:

  1. We are engaged with the EU’s in the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) process and wants to negotiate a Voluntary partnership Agreement (VPA) to and address illegal logging in the country and
  2.  Sustainable Forest Management and trade and commerce of timber products through forest certification has been promoted by the government parts of the national production forests have been (Forest Stewardship Council) FSC certified.
  3. To promote credible forest certification such as FSC and the national FLEGT   process can unite stakeholders in a quest for an inclusive green economy. it can address fair trade, the need to balance the social, economic and environmental dimensions of development, and environmental concerns for the biodiversity- and carbon-rich forests.
  4. To promote the marketing (internationally traded and niche market products handled by local communities) of non-wood forest products (NWFPs).
  5. To removing barriers to the market entry of ‘green’ forest products from the Lao PDR as an ingredient in poverty-reduction strategies.
  6. The government is piloting REDD+ and payments for Ecosystem services (PES), which would translate into opportunities for new resources for the conversation and restoration of forests as part of the Green Growth process in the forestry sector.

Which will enable green investments, and enabling PES schemes by the public and private sector. We are fully committed to the fight of the international community against climate change. A National strategy and Action plan on climate change is implemented which guides the mainstreaming of low carbon green growth and adaptation options in to the 7th Five-Year Socioeconomic Development Plan that cover the period from 2011 to 2015.

In this regard, we are grateful for this opportunity to exchange views on green growth in this forum and we wish to reaffirm our strong commitment to work with all partners in the pursuit of a green and climate-friendly sustainable future.

Thank you.