Green growth: the healthy path to development

VIENTIAN (VIENTIANE TIMES/ANN) – Laos is a small developing country, which has strong economic growth, but there are concerns about the environment as many companies would like to invest in rural areas and make use of the country’s natural resources.

Even though Laos still has plenty of open spaces and forests, now is the time for the government to think about green growth and set Laos on the right kind of development path that does not destroy the country’s natural resources or harm the environment.

For four years Laos has been a member of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) which was established in 2012. It is a treaty-based, international, inter-governmental organisation dedicated to supporting and promoting strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in developing countries and emerging economies.

There are 36 member countries globally, from Latin America to Asia and the Pacific, and another 20 countries are in the process of joining.

Director-General of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Dr Frank Rijsberman, told Vientiane Times that Laos became the 28th member of the institute in 2017. The institute helps member countries to change their economic models so they become more green, more sustainable, and inclusive.

Solar panels in a solar farm

GGGI’s first project in Laos was a green growth potential assessment to comprehensively examine Laos’ performance in key green growth areas.

The assessment results were fed into the formulation of the National Green Growth Strategy endorsed in early 2019 by the prime minister as an overarching policy document to promote green growth in Laos.

GGGI is currently supporting the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the National Institute for Economic Research to mainstream and implement this strategy.

The institute is also working with other key ministries to provide technical advisory support and mobilise investments in line with Laos’ green growth priorities and opportunities.

This work includes support to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, implementing a KOICA-funded project on green cities development in Vientiane and Pakxe focussing on solid waste management and wastewater management, development of a regulatory framework for electric vehicles, and policies to support electric mobility.

The institute is also helping the Ministry of Energy and Mines to collaborate with USAID Clean Power Asia to design a solar pilot auction for 40MW of solar farms.

Dr Rijsberman said poor countries like Laos want to drive economic growth so people can have high incomes like in South Korea where he lives.

He explained that green growth means finding ways to ensure growth is environmentally sustainable so that there is no pollution and the next generation can see blue sky.