Sustainable Development Success Stories

Pilot project on Public Participation

Location  Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Responsible Organisation Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), United Nations Development Programme country office of Lao PDR, and the Science, Technology and Environment Organization (STENO) of the Government of Lao PDR. Funding was provided by the UNDP Programme for Asian Cooperation on energy and Environment (PACE-E).

The Lao PDR stepped to the forefront of public consultation activities in 1996 and 1997 with a series of highly publicized public hearings on the Nam Theun II dam project. In mid-1997, under the PACE-E project, ESCAP provided consultants to the Science, Technology and Environment Organization to build on the experiences learned during the Nam Theun II hearings and to increase STENO’s capacity to manage and implement public involvement (PI) activities. The main outputs of the project were a set of generic guidelines on PI and the development of training materials for future reference and use. Both the guidelines and the training materials were extensively discussed at a three-day workshop attended by government officials and representatives of international organizations, held in September 1997.

To further the initiative, funds were allocated in 1998 to establish a working group on Public Consultation, made up of members from relevant line ministries, NGOs and international organizations to train government officials at the central, provincial and local levels on how to carry out PI activities, particularly developing PI plans and holding consultative meetings. A summary of the generic guidelines was adapted and translated into Lao, and this material was introduced at several test sites around the country where development projects were being implemented. The experiences of STENO in developing and introducing the material were presented at a regional workshop held in June 1998. A video was also made to record some of the experiences of STENO in introducing PI techniques in Lao PDR.

Issues Addressed Capacity building, education and awareness raising, information for decision making.
Results Achieved A good example of how to plan and integrate community participation in development projects.
Lessons Learned Proper planning and appropriate methodologies, partnerships among different actors including community participation.

Chief, Energy Resources Section
Environment and Natural Resources Development Division
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)
Bangkok 10200 Thailand
Tel. (66-2) 288-1546; Fax (66-2) 288-1059;
E-mail: saha.unescap@un.org

United Nations Development Programme
P.O. Box 345
Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Tel (856-21) 213390; Fax (856-21) 212029