UNDP Trained 80 Lao Companies on Responsible Business Practices

October 25, 2022

A group of Lao State-owned enterprises is celebrating international standars for responsible business practices.

Olivia Macri, UNDP Lao PDR

Vientiane, 21 October 2022 The UNDP Academy on Responsible Business Practices completed the first series of training on international standards for responsible business practices for more than 80 companies operating in Lao PDR.

In recent years, a rich dialogue has emerged around the role of business in shaping our well-being and the environment. On the one hand, business is celebrated for contributing to economic development by producing life-saving goods, generating jobs for disadvantaged groups, and financing social investments through taxes. On the other, business is criticized for promoting overconsumption, exploiting natural resources, and putting profits before the welfare of workers.

Globally, communities, civil society organizations, and trade unions are demanding companies minimize harms and maximize their social impact. Investors alike are interested in companies with responsible social and environmental behaviour. Governments, in turn, are passing laws to regulate business activity against negative impacts on society and the environment.

“We have seen significant pressure on companies to assess their impact on people and the environment and take measures to prevent adverse impacts. In doing so, companies are now required to go beyond compliance with national laws and align their operations with international standards for responsible business practices, including international labour standards, international environmental law, and international human rights law,” Ms. Catherine Phuong, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, highlighted.

Through the trainings, participating companies explored why many businesses are adopting international standards and some good practices to take action in Lao PDR. By following international standards for responsible business practices, companies can enjoy improved competitive advantage in accessing capital and emerging markets, building a positive brand image, attracting and retaining diverse talent. Global evidence shows that 59 percent of responsible businesses across Asia, the Americas, and Europe experience increased revenue. Yet, in Lao PDR, 62 percent of businesses surveyed have no or little understanding of international standards for responsible business practices, and no business has assessed their social and environmental impacts.

“We were aware only of the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility that many companies in Lao PDR are striving towards. In fact, what makes a company a champion in CSR does not make it a responsible business if, for example, it donates money to local charities but at the same time pollutes the Mekong river. Transitioning from CSR towards international standards for responsible business practices can help a company raise its ambition and performance bar, without compromising local people’s well-being and the environment,” Ms. Dalivanh Chanthaphone, Manager of Passenger Revenue Accounting of Lao Airlines, reflected.

Responsible business practices can also be a just and transformative pathway for Lao businesses to recover from COVID-19.

“Over the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every business in Lao PDR. By enabling accountable and transparent business practices now, companies are more likely to return to the pre-COVID levels of revenue sooner and contribute to a more sustainable recovery of the Lao economy. State-owned enterprises, in particular, have a role to play in leading by example and embracing international standards for responsible business practices,” Mr. Bounkeuth Xayasone, Director of the Audit Department of the EDL–Generation Public Company, shared.

The UNDP Academy on Responsible Business Practices was established under the “Improving Performance, Accountability, Conduct, and Transparency of Businesses in Lao PDR” project, also known as IMPACT Biz, implemented by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and UNDP, with support from the Government of Japan.


For more information, please contact:

Ms. Aksonethip Somvorachit

UNDP Communications Analyst


Ms. Sinsavanh Sonepaseuth

UNDP Communications and Outreach Officer for Governance