Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lao PDR
at the Ministerial Segment of the 73rd Session of the UNESCAP
Bangkok, 18 May 2017
Ladies and gentlemen,
At the outset, on behalf of delegation of the Lao PDR, I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Chairperson, on your election as Chairperson of the UNESCAP73rd session held under the theme “Strengthening regional cooperation for sustainable energy”. May I also express my sincere thanks to UNESCAP and the Government and people of Thailand for the gracious hospitality as well as the excellent arrangements made for this year’s session.
As we all are aware, the Asia-Pacific region is at a turning point in its energy transition. The energy solutions that have fuelled growth in the region over the past few decades are no longer compatible with the sustainable development aspirations of our nations and the need of our people. In transitioning to a new era of sustainable energy, policymakers across the region are facing complex, yet crucial decisions. Solutions do exist, but only through strengthening regional cooperation and integration, the Asia and the Pacific will be able to ensure transition to sustainable energy in a timely manner and meet the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Like in other parts of the world, countries in the region have committed themselves to moving towards a more diverse and low carbon energy mix through the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. However, fossil fuels still remain major part of the regional energy mix, accounting for three-quarters of electricity generation. While some countries suffer from energy shortages which impact their economic and social development, others enjoy energy surpluses, such as hydropower and natural gas. As a non-petroleum producing country, the Lao PDR strongly relies on imported fuels and would be very prone to high energy price and supply shortage related crisis. In order to make the country energy self-sufficient and to secure its energy supply, effective energy strategies have been put in place. The Lao government has adopted a long-term strategy to promote more energy saving through development of clean, environmental friendly and renewable energy resources, such as hydropower, solar, wind, biomass, and bio-fuel, among others. This has become an integral part of our national development policy in order to ensure energy security, sustain socio-economic development, and enhance environmental sustainability.
In addition, the Lao Government attaches great importance to integrating the SDGs to our current 8th National Social Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) and Vision 2030 aimed at laying a foundation for Lao PDR to graduate from LDC status country by 2020. As production and access to energy is an essential component that promotes economic growth, industrialization and modernization, the Lao Government has focused on developing and tapping into its vast hydropower potential as well as promoting the expansion of Renewable Energy to achieve the target of reaching 30% by 2025. In this connection, hydropower provides almost 100 percent of electricity supply, for domestic use and for export to the neighboring countries. Importantly, while developing hydropower project, it is the government’s policy that a number of consultations are often held with all stakeholders in order to prior study and access their social and environmental impacts. The development of large scale projects coupled with various medium and small scale hydropower projects aims to expand electricity access to rural and remote areas reaching 90% by 2020.
Being both landlocked and least developed country, the Lao PDR has continued to encounter numerous challenges due to geographical disadvantages. According to the Asia-Pacific Countries with Special Needs Development Report 2017, countries with special needs namely LDCs, LLDCs and SIDs in the region annually require a continuous flow of investment amounting to 10% of their GDP to develop and provide transport, energy, information and communications technology to an increasingly urbanizing population. In this connection, the Lao PDR fully understands the need to address infrastructure development including expanding transport linkages and energy infrastructure in order to ensure a sustainable future for the country and our people. Therefore, the Lao PDR underlines the importance of promoting regional energy cooperation and integration as well as the importance to enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, capacity building, energy efficiency, the transfer of advanced, cleaner fossil-fuel technology and promotion of investment into the renewable energy sector. In this context, we welcome the outcome of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held from 14-15 May 2017 in Beijing, China, which focus on, among others, infrastructure development such as promoting practical cooperation on roads, railways, ports, maritime and other including energy pipelines and power grid. We are confident that the Belt and Road Initiative would play an important role in promoting energy connectivity that can ensure energy sustainability across the region.
I wish to conclude by once again extending my heartfelt appreciation to all friendly countries, development partners and international organizations for your continued valuable support and kind assistance extended to the Lao PDR in our national development efforts. Last but not least, I wish the successful outcome of the 73rd Session of UNESCAP.