Assessing the economic, social and environment costs and benefits of investment in Lao PDR

25 August 2011 | Article

IUCN Lao PDR and partners recently presented the results of the project “Baseline Assessment of Economic, Social and Environmental Costs and Benefits of Investment in Savannakhet and Saravan Provinces, Lao PDR”.

The assessment not only provides baseline information for the development of provincial investment strategies but also assists in further building the capacity of the authorities to analyze and monitor investments.

The project was funded by UNDP and UNEP’s Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) and carried out by IUCN in partnership with the National Economic Research Institute (NERI) between May 2010 and January 2011. The project involved two research components: 1) an overview assessment of the economic, social and environmental impacts of investments in the two provinces. 2) four case studies on the impacts of specific investment projects on the surrounding communities. In Savannakhet, the case studies were the Mitr Lao sugar plantation and the Savan Vegas casino; in Saravan, the Dak Lak Caosu rubber plantation and several wood processing factories were studied.

The research was carried out by multi-sectoral teams in each province that included representatives from IUCN, NERI, and various provincial government departments related to investments (e.g. Water Resources and Environment Office and the Land Management Authority). Results of all studies were presented to each province’s investment committee in October 2010.

The results of the casino and wood processing case studies were also presented at the Sustainable Investment Forum in May 2011, organized by PEI to discuss the draft National Investment Strategy with government and development partners. Posters summarizing key findings of the provincial overview investment assessment reports and “photo stories” describing the research methodology were also on display at the forum.

Both provincial and central level government officials and international organizations showed strong interest in the case studies, in particular as there are few reports of this kind on local level impacts of investment available in Lao PDR.

In addition to these research components, the project included working with NERI and provincial authorities to develop an “investment checklist” laying out factors for provincial investment committees to consider when determining whether or not to approve an investment project. PEI will continue adapting the checklist and working with provincial investment committees

The final project component involved development of six “issue briefs” that analyze key issues related to investment in hydropower, mining, plantations biofuels, and forestry, in the country as a whole, as well as the gender specific impacts of investment.

For more information about the project, please contact Ms Eliza Berry, IUCN Lao PDR: eliza.berry@iucn.org.