Most of the country's 236,800 km2 is rugged upland and only 4% is arable. The economy of Lao PDR is largely resource-based and its continued growth depends on a sustainable environment. Agricultural has accounted for more than half of GDP since 1996 and employs over 75% of the labor force.
The increasing pace of economic activity in Lao PDR over the past two decades has contributed to an impressive reduction in national poverty rates. In 1992, 52% of the rural population lived in poverty; by 2008 this had decreased to 37%.
Rapid development has meanwhile led to some less positive impacts, particularly on the country’s natural resource base. Degradation to forest and water resources are among a host of environmental challenge facing the country.
CEP in Lao PDR
Two rounds of environmental performance reporting have occurred in Lao PDR, covering the period 2003 to 2011. A biodiversity conservation corridor site was piloted in Champasak province and is currently being scaled up through the Biodiversity Conservation Corridor project.
A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) on tourism in the Golden Quadrangle involved three northern provinces and the country also took part in a trade and transport SEA for the North-South Economic Corridor. Lao PDR was the testing ground for the application of Spatial Multi-Criteria Assessment (SMCA) on demand for rubber concessions.
Lao PDR is also one of CEP’s focal countries for climate change mitigation and adaptation work.
Click here to learn more about these activities and other CEP work in Lao PDR.