The National University of Laos (NUOL) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) signed an agreement in Vientiane yesterday to develop a new programme for undertaking research on environmental and developmental resources.
The Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) between the two is focused on developing a new programme for conducting, and raising funds for, research projects. A committee will be established to improve cooperation between university faculties and departments in undertaking environmental research and also between NUOL and external organisations.
The MOU was signed by Vice President of NUOL, Assoc Prof Lammai Phiphakkhavong and IUCN Country Representative, Ms Latsamay Sylavong. Considering current impacts on natural resources in the country, there is an increased need for research contributions in environmental protection, said Mr Lammai. “As the leading academic institution in Laos, it is important for NUOL to respond to emerging environmental issues and to maintain its role as a neutral provider of good quality research about conditions in Laos for decision makers and other stakeholders in the country,” said Ms Latsamay. She said in the development of a country like Laos, that is very rich in natural resources, it is important that both the development sector and decision makers have access to quality and reliable research so that wise decisions can be made about how to use natural resources in a sustainable way.
According to the Lao Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), adaptation to climate change is an example of an emerging issue important to the sustainable management of natural resources. IUCN had previously signed a MOU with the Faculty of Forestry and the Centre for Environment and Development (CEDS) at NUOL, and cooperation has been ongoing for a number of years. Supported by the faculty and CEDS, IUCN started discussions with NUOL to further the cooperation efforts. During the discussions leading up to yesterday’s signing, several needs were identified. Among these needs was the necessity for more research funding and improved cooperation between faculties at NUOL working with issues relating to the environment. Also discussed was the need for improved local capacity in research skills and methodology.
This is particularly relevant in a time with increasing pressure on natural resources in Laos. An outline to implement research activities undertaken jointly by members from several faculties was drawn up, as well as plans to publish and promote the results for the benefit of the international community and Lao decision makers, including the Prime Minister’s Office, Council of Science and Technology, National Environmental Committee and National Assembly.
Sources: Vientiane Times Newspaper, "Home News", Wed 26th August 2009 – p.3, access date 26 August 2009, http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/