February 7, 2024

Lao PDR, Vientiane Capital, 06 February 2024 – Climate change is leaving its mark in every corner of our planet, with extreme weather – heatwaves, heavy rain and storms, floods, and droughts – increasingly affecting people’s livelihoods, health, and well-being. To confront climate change challenges and chart a path to a more sustainable future, urgent action, and unparalleled levels of collaboration between and within countries are needed.

Last year’s COP-28, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Climate Change Convention, held in Dubai, was the largest-ever climate conference. It was attended by 97,000 delegates, including heads of state, negotiators, business leaders and non-state actors who committed to transition away from fossil fuels and to triple the renewable energy capacity by 2030 through Enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Significant financial climate pledges were made, and an agreement was reached on the operationalization of a loss and damage fund. 

Lao PDR is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change and has seen, in recent years, an increase in both flooding and drought episodes. Recognizing climate impacts and the risks of an even more uncertain future, the Government has committed to increasing its adaptation efforts by mainstreaming climate change and mitigation into its Socio-Economic Development Plan. In 2021, the country revised its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and raised its ambition, committing to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 60% by 2030, achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, strengthen mitigation measures in the forestry and energy sectors and integrate gender considerations into their action plan. 

To discuss those plans and the obligations and opportunities deriving from COP-28 commitments, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), with the support of UNDP, organized a National Forum on Climate Change in Vientiane capital on 6 and 7 February 2024.  UNDP support was provided through the Climate Promise project, a global project that supports countries, including Lao PDR, in translating their climate targets into bold and ambitious actions by connecting Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to sustainable development plans.

The National Forum on Climate Change was attended by high-level officials from the Government, Ambassadors, Heads of Missions, representatives from ministries, the diplomatic corps, international organizations, and development partners, as well as the private sector and youth and civil society organizations (CSO).  A wide range of issues were discussed, including the outcomes of COP 28, the way forward for Lao PDR, and lessons learned from youth and CSO engagement. There were also technical discussions on climate finance, green investments, plastic pollution, and adaptation in the health sector.  A Youth COP simulation was organized, and prizes were awarded to the best videos and essays produced by the students across Lao PDR who took part in a contest launched on November 24th, 2023.

The common thread throughout the two-day event was a call for closer collaboration among stakeholders. Participants were reminded that the mid-term review of the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan and the formulation of the 10th Plan provided an opportunity to accelerate collective action to effect tangible and positive change and to empower communities to adapt and thrive in the face of climate-related challenges.

 As Ms. Martine Thérer, Resident Representative of UNDP Lao PDR, stated in her speech: 

“Together, we can chart a course that not only reaffirms our commitments to climate action and priorities but also empowers us to act and make transformative change happen.”