Towards A Roadmap- Workshop To Strengthen Responsible Business Conduct In Lao PDR
August 18, 2023
Luang Prabang, August 17-18, 2023 – Over the last decade, Lao PDR has enjoyed high levels of economic growth which have contributed significantly to the country’s socio-economic development. At the same time, however, the growth has strained the environment and contributed to higher levels of pollution, biodiversity loss, and soil degradation. Some large-scale economic projects have also negatively impacted the lives of many communities and workers. Given the country’s planned graduation from the status of a Least Developed Country, it will be of critical importance to ensure the acceleration of business activities do not undermine the environmental foundations on which future growth depends, nor violate the rights of workers, communities, and other vulnerable groups.
In this context, UNDP together with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce convened representatives from 10 ministries, unions, and government institutions to discuss how to further strengthen responsible business practices. The workshop “Towards a Roadmap” is part of the IMPACT Biz Project funded by Japan. It builds upon previous workshops that focused on training and awareness raising on the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.
As a result of the workshop, the participants developed an initial vision of how to move forward with this agenda by identifying priority sectors, central stakeholders, and key risks. Key challenges and gaps were determined and a preliminary timeline with important milestones for further actions was developed. The discussions provide a strong basis from which will support the development of a roadmap to produce a National Action Plan (NAP) on Responsible Business Practices.
During the workshop, Mr. Sengphanomchone Inthasane, Deputy Director General of the Planning and Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, emphasized the importance of this agenda that, “it is very important for all of us to continue strengthening responsible business practices across all sectors. Only if we work together to improve the legal framework on business operations, we can make sure that businesses can indeed contribute to the inclusive and sustainable development of the whole country.”
Ms. Caitlin Porter, UNDP Governance Team Leader, complemented this point by emphasizing that the agenda on responsible growth has a strong business case. She shared, “across the globe, consumers and governments require supply chains to be compliant with international standards. If we do not respond today to this new trend, we will no longer be competitive tomorrow. In 2019, responsible business investments were at USD 285 billion. Two years later, in 2021, they have more than doubled and have reached a staggering USD 650 billion.”
Across the world, 32 countries have already formally adopted such NAPs. In the ASEAN region, efforts are led by countries like Vietnam or Thailand which have already adopted a NAP. Meanwhile, Indonesia and Malaysia are currently developing such NAPs, providing useful experiences that can be leveraged for the Lao Context. Against the backdrop of the current Universal Period Review Cycle (UPR), the Government of Lao PDR has already indicated NAP on responsible business practices as an anticipated outcome to respond to various recommendations in the areas of economic growth and human rights. The Roadmap Workshop has, thus, been an excellent opportunity to discuss how this commitment can be put into practice.
The workshop has shown the commitment of the Government of Lao PDR to continue working on responsible business practices. UNDP will continue to support these efforts by providing technical assistance, fostering regional peer learning, and helping to convene stakeholders across the country to ensure an integrated approach.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Roman Meier
Programme Analyst, UNDP
Ms. Aksonethip Somvorachit
Communication Analyst, UNDP
+856 20 5502 1550
Ms. Sinsavanh Sonepaseuth
Communications and outreach officer, UNDP
+856 20 9729 8848
Lane Xang Avenue, P.O. Box 345
Vientiane, Lao PDR
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