Water, Energy & Environment

WATER, ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT

Australia has supported Water, Energy and Environment management in Laos since the mid-2000s, following our assistance to the Mekong River Commission since its establishment in 1995.

Enhancing environmental resilience in the Mekong subregion

Australia has supported water, energy and environment management in Laos since the mid-2000s, following our assistance to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) since its establishment in 1995.

Since then, we have provided more than AUD 31 million to the MRC to support regional initiatives and cooperation for sustainable management of the shared Mekong. Australian alumni, Dr Anoulak Kittikhoun, was appointed CEO of the MRC Secretariat in January 2022, the first Lao national to hold the position. We look forward to working closely with him to continue our support to the MRC.

We continue to build on our many successes in this area and remain committed to supporting Laos’ priorities in strengthening both regulatory frameworks and capacity of stakeholders for sustainable development.

This assistance to Laos forms part of our regional program focusing on more transparent, inclusive, informed and accountable water and hydropower development. This is crucial in contributing to national and regional socio-economic development through improved water, food, energy and environmental security.

Partnering with the Government of Laos to achieve results

Australia is a long-standing partner to Laos’ Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE). Since 2011, our assistance has strengthened regulatory frameworks, capacity of human resources, tools and guidelines for sustainable management of water resources management. One of the outstanding achievements we have contributed to is updating Laos’ Water Resources Law, approved by the National Assembly in 2017.

We also provide Australian expertise to Laos and work with Laos on various projects such as integrated river basin management, groundwater and development a number of water legislations under the revised Water Law.

“The Government of Laos highly appreciates the assistance from Australia in water, energy and climate areas. It helps strengthening our capabilities to manage our water and related resources more effectively, contributing to the implementation of our Green Growth Strategy and National Socio-Economic Development Plans” Mme Bounkham Vorachit, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Lao PDR.

Australia recognises the role of hydropower and the mining sector as key drivers for economic growth in Laos. Working with the World Bank and International Finance Corporation, Australia has supported the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) to strengthen governance in these sectors since 2010, contributing to more transparent, sustainable and accountable development.

In 2019, following the collapse of a dam in Attapeau Province, Australia joined with other development partners to review safety of hydropower dams and provided recommendations to strengthen the safety and sustainable management of hydropower facilities

The new Mekong-Australia Partnership (MAP)

To highlight Australia’s commitment to the Mekong region, in November 2020 Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the $232 million Mekong-Australia Partnership (MAP) which forms part of Australia’s $500 million package to support Southeast Asia’s COVID-19 recovery.

Within this package, a new program has been established to support Laos and countries in the Mekong sub-region in the areas of water, energy and climate. Through this new program, Australia will continue to support MONRE and MEM to strengthen water security, energy governance and building resilience to climate change.

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