Lao PDR REDD+ Readiness - State of Play
Since the early 1990s, forest management in Lao PDR has shifted towards the conservation of forests, improvement of logging practice and forest rehabilitation. This shift is supported by policies / programmes on forest categorisation and demarcation, law enforcement and governance, sustainable forest management and forest regeneration and reforestation. However, forest boundaries and management plans have not yet been fully defined. In addition, the customary forest users and local communities are often in a weak position, with no enforceable rights over the forests they manage.
The REDD+ concept is highly relevant to Lao PDR, which has a large per capita forest area, with relatively high per capita deforestation and forest degradation. Given the fact that annual emissions from deforestation and forest degradation are estimated to account for 72% of the country’s total emissions, REDD+ could provide significant opportunities to protect ecosystem services and increase the revenues from the forest sector.
Since 2007, Lao PDR has made efforts to develop its national REDD+ system. This includes submission of the R-PIN (2008) and the R-PP (2010) to the World Bank’s FCPF. However, overall REDD+ readiness is still at an early stage. Outstanding challenges include formulation of the national REDD+ strategy, development of institutional arrangements, as well establishment of REL / RL, MRV and the safeguards monitoring system. Also there is an urgent need to establish a legal basis for REDD+ implementation. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has started to revise the forestry legal framework to address issues of forest tenure and forest carbon rights / carbon use rights.
The organisational framework for REDD+ readiness has evolved and national ownership of the REDD+ readiness progress appears to have grown. The multi-sectoral REDD+ Task Force was reformed in 2011 and now includes more state ministries and Lao civil society organizations. The REDD+ Office was set up within the Department of Forestry to support the Task Force and manage day-to-day REDD+ activities. However, the idea of REDD+ is new in Lao PDR, and the government is still moving towards the necessary multi-sectoral approach for REDD+ to have an impact on forest management and use. The administrative capacity of the organisational framework needs to be further developed to be in accordance with existing national and sub-national institutions and structures.
While the government has tried to strengthen national ownership of REDD+ readiness, REDD+ readiness still relies largely on bilateral and multilateral support at both national and sub-national levels. Key support from donors include the World Bank’s FCPF and Forest Investment Programme (FIP), CliPAD (GIZ-KfW), FSCAP (JICA, SIDA), PAREED (JICA), FIM (Japan) and SUFORD (Finland, World Bank). Given this variety of support, the government has an important role to play in ensuring coordination between donor activities and programmes in accordance with the government’s policy and its involvement in the FCPF process.