Water and energy challenges: Diverse perspectives for a way forward

04 April 2014 | News story

4 April 2014, Vientiane, Lao PDR – Different sectors  can  work together to create policy that seeks to effectively conserve our natural resources, while simultaneously addressing the demands of a growing population in a rapidly developing country. 

As much as 20% of the world’s electricity comes from hydropower. However, population growth is increasing the demand for energy. Furthermore, climate change is increasing the strain on our already shrinking natural resources. This illustrates the mammoth challenge that faces water governance today.

In celebration of the UN World Water Day 2014, the Department of Water Resources in Lao PDR organized a scientific seminar as part of a number of events to engage community members, government officials, non-governmental organizations and the private sector in a discussion about this year’s theme for World Water Day; “Water and Energy”. The event, which was held at the National University of Laos on 26 March 2014, brought together students and professors from the university, Lao government representatives from the Ministry of Energy and Mines, IUCN Lao PDR, the Integrated Water Management Institute, the Mekong River Commission and the Lao Brewery Company, amongst others.

Speaking about the Lao government’s plans for the development of hydropower in the country Mr. Khamso Kuphokham, Deputy Director of the Department of Policy, Energy and Planning, of the Ministry of Energy and Mines said, “The Lao government hopes to be the ‘ASEAN battery’ by 2020 – to be a supplier of electricity for the ASEAN countries. Additionally, the Lao government is also supporting the reduction of dependency on hydropower and is exploring solar and wind power alternatives.” The move to supply electricity to other ASEAN countries is welcomed by many, because it will provide revenue for the country and also support economic growth.

Ms Wendy C. Atieno, Communications Officer for the Water and Wetlands Programme, IUCN Lao PDR, gave a presentation about nexus between water and energy and IUCN’s work on the Nexus Dialogue for Water Infrastructure Solutions, in collaboration with the International Water Association. During her presentation, Ms Atieno stated, “Water and energy are inextricably linked; changes in one sector affect the other. IUCN Asia is involved in a number of transboundary, multistakeholder dialogue projects, such as the Mekong Water Dialogues and the BRIDGE 3S project that encourages dialogue and the participation of local communities. These projects thereby seek to improve decision-making processes where water and energy are concerned.

The inclusion of representatives from different sectors at the scientific seminar is an example of the dialogue and diversity in perspectives that are needed to improve water governance. The seminar was partly funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, through the Mekong Water Dialogues project.

For more information, please contact:
Wendy C. Atieno

Communications Officer, Water and Wetlands Programme, IUCN Lao PDR
wendy.atieno@iucn.org