National Stakeholders’ Awareness Workshop in Lao PDR on EANET in 2023

3 May 2023 – Vientiane, Lao PDR

The National Stakeholder Awareness Workshop in Lao PDR on EANET: Promoting acid deposition and air quality management in East Asia was held in Vientiane, on 2 May 2023, in cooperation with the Natural Resource and Environment Research Institute (NRERI), Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment (MoNRE), Lao PDR. It aimed at showcasing the achievements and activities of the EANET over the last 20 years and encouraging cooperation between EANET and Lao stakeholders in the implementation of the EANET’s expanded scope and Project Fund activities. The Workshop was held at the NRERI, and gathered about 45 participants from government agencies, academic institutions, and NGOs. It was co-chaired by Mr. Lonkham Atsanavong, Director General of the NRERI, MoNRE, and Mr. Bert Fabian, Coordinator of the Secretariat for the EANET.


Strengthening Acid Deposition and Air Quality Management in Lao PDR

The National Stakeholder Awareness Workshop in Lao PDR on EANET was inaugurated by the Opening Remarks of Mr. Lonkham Atsanavong and the introduction to the Workshop’s objectives by Mr. Bert Fabian. These were followed by presentations by Dr. Keiichi Sato, Head of Atmospheric Research Department, Asian Center for Air Pollution (ACAP), Network Center of the EANET; Mr. Vanhna Phanphongsa, Deputy Director, Environmental Laboratory, MoNRE, Lao PDR; and Ms. Bounmany Soulideth, Deputy Head of Division, MoNRE, Lao PDR and current Head of the ASEAN Technical Working Group on Transboundary Haze Pollution.

Dr. Keiichi Sato presented the overall progress of air quality monitoring activities in the EANET region over the past two decades, specifically focusing on the dissemination of monitoring data, capacity building, and regional cooperation, within the framework of the EANET. Mr. Vanha and Ms. Bounmany presented the status of acid deposition monitoring and air quality management in Lao PDR as well as the transboundary haze pollution and general air quality issues in Lao PDR.

In his presentation, Mr. Vanha highlighted interest in Laos for future collaboration on capacity building activities, specifically related to supporting maintenance, Ion Chromatography (IC) instrument & air quality monitoring stations QA/QC, training on PM2.5/ PM10 monitoring, ambient air quality monitoring, atmospheric data analysis, ambient air data mapping, emission inventory tools, and air quality modeling.


National Stakeholders’ Awareness Workshop in Lao PDR on EANET in-person participants


Air Quality Management Collaborative Efforts and Awareness Initiatives in Lao PDR

The objective of the panel discussion on Strengthening Acid Deposition and Air Quality Management in Lao PDR was to offer a forum to share information on air quality management and haze pollution. Representatives from government agencies  NGOs, and other development institutions participated actively in the panel discussion and shared their thoughts on the air pollution issues in the country.

The alarming increase in the heat index in Lao PDR and in the region in April 2023, combined with wildfires and high air pollution, has led to a collective agreement to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of air pollution. The government of Laos is taking various measures to address air pollution and raise public awareness about its impacts, including conducting public awareness activities led by the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment and collaborating with relevant sectors to prevent air pollution from the agricultural sector. The National University of Laos (NUOL) has also introduced a supplementary curriculum on air pollution and air quality control.

The collaboration between the government and local communities was emphasized, involving engagement with local authorities and residents in educational programs. In the agricultural sector, the cassava farming practice is becoming a significant concern, leading to nutrient degradation in the soil and farmers resorting to clearing more land. Facing this issue, support is being provided to community-managed areas for sustainable crop preparation, discouraging the shifting of cultivation sites and promoting the use of plant residues to reduce burning.

Local government entities are also encouraged to collaborate with research institutes and other sectors to manage and prevent air pollution. The World Bank, in partnership with the NRERI, is developing an environmental and waste management project, aiming to enhance communication and access to educational resources through the development of online platforms including a mobile application, for public air quality monitoring.

The National Awareness Workshop participants highlighted the status of air quality monitoring stations, identified major sources of air pollution, and emphasized the importance of capacity building and international cooperation in addressing the transboundary haze issue. While efforts are made to improve the air quality assessment, these need to be further strengthened. Collaboration among various local and international stakeholders is key to addressing the air quality issue in Lao PDR.


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Photo credits: featured image: the scenery of southern Laos by Joule Benjarat, 2020, free of rights; all other photos: all rights reserved to EANET.