The FINANCIAL — The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors on April 29 approved additional funding of US$15 million from the International Development Association for Lao PDR’s Second Lao Environment and Social Project (LENS2), previously called the Protected Area and Wildlife (PAW) project. This US$15 million in additional funding supplements the US$23.7 million already provided in April 2014.
The LENS2 project aims to strengthen overall government capacity in environmental assessment management, while continuing to improve the management of National Protected Areas and reduce the trade in illegal wildlife in eight provinces, according to the World Bank.
“Further improving environmental protection is a priority for Laos,” said Sally Burningham, the World Bank’s Country Manager for Lao PDR. “We are very pleased to support efforts to strengthen the country’s environmental protection management systems.”
Under LENS2, government departments or agencies and local non-profit associations are encouraged to formulate their own environmental ‘subprojects’ and apply for funding from the Environmental Protection Fund, a financially autonomous Lao organization established in 2005. Worldwide, over 50 similar environmental funds have been created to finance and support environmental initiatives.
The first LENS project, which ran between 2005 and 2013, funded more than 150 subprojects through the Environmental Protection Fund, producing tangible results at a local level.
The LENS2 project is an important part of the World Bank Lao PDR Country Partnership Strategy for 2012-2016 which aims to improve public sector management, competitiveness and connectivity, sustainable natural resource management, and inclusive development by supporting policies and institutional reforms.
The project is also in line with the draft of the Lao Government’s 8th National Social and Economic Development Plan, which underscores the importance of protecting the environment.