ProCEEd - Promotion of Climate-related Environmental Education
Before mid 2019, and ever since 2011, the development of environmental education and awareness in Laos (EEAL) was supported by ProCEEd (Promotion of Climate-related Environmental Education), a Lao-German development cooperation project implemented by the Lao Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. The project aimed at improving knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding environmental and biodiversity protection as well as climate change adaptation in Laos. To this effect, a wide range of national mass media, community communication channels and non-formal education activities were combined in a well-coordinated multi-year Environmental Education and Communication Strategy (EECS). ProCEEd’s focus during 2012-2014 was on areas in the Sayaboury, Houaphan and Khammouane provinces, where other Lao-German projects related to climate change adaptation, forest and biodiversity protection are implemented. For ProCEEd II in 2015-2017, the project added Bolikhamxai as a fourth province, where environmental awareness raising on solid waste management was staged.
From ProCEEd to ProFEB - Protection and Sustainable Utilization of Forest Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Laos
When ProCEEd joined the ProFEB family of projects in October 2017, it grew stronger in a new structure of continued German support to environmental education and communication in Laos. ProFEB combines the efforts of ProCEEd with those of the two other projects, Integrated Nature Conservation & Sustainable Resource Management in the Hin Nam No Region (HNN) and Support to the Lao EU-FLEGT Process (ProFLEGT).Therefore, ProCEEd focused on the Hin Nam No area in the Boualapha District of the Khammouane Province. At the national level, ProCEEd has continued supporting the Department of Environmental Quality Promotion (DEQP) of MoNRE.
ProCEEd and ProFEB have aimed at counterbalancing the low environmental awareness in Laos. A Knowledge-Attitudes-Practices (KAP) survey conducted in 2012 revealed that large sections of the rural population as well as political and economic decision-makers lack knowledge about the correlation between sustainable development and environmental protection, biodiversity conservation and climate change. Mass media, schools, teacher training institutes and the agricultural and forestry extension services as well as mass organisations pay limited attention to environmental and climate-related issues. Moreover, mass media outreach in Laos is restricted by geographical, socio-economic and language barriers. The limited capacity of communication and education systems in Laos makes it difficult to position environmental and climate-related issues in public discourse. At the same time, law enforcement and the implementation of environmental protection and climate policy is inconsistent, and the rural population lacks the knowhow and capacity to adapt to the impacts of climate change at the local level.
From ProFEB to EEAL - Environmental Education and Awareness in Laos
In mid 2019, and until March 2021, the ProCEEd component of ProFEB has become the Environmental Education and Awareness (EEA) output of the GIZ program, which is implemented by GFA Consulting Group. During this period, the human resource capacities of the government and civil society partners that ProCEEd and ProFEB have been cooperating with since 2011 will be further developed. The EEA experiences and competencies of these organizations will be scaled up and mainstreamed. To this effect, these partners have been cooperating under the slogan Environmental Education and Awareness in Laos (EEAL) since early 2020.
The low environmental awareness in the country is a substantial challenge because the national economy is highly dependent on natural resources. Some of the country's crucial forms of natural resource utilization such as rain-fed rice cultivation and hydro-power generation are threatened by climate change. The socio-economic dependence on a limited number of natural resources sensitive to climate change results in a low climate change adaptation capacity. The resulting impacts will most severely affect people living in rural areas whose livelihoods depend largely on forest ecosystems and smallholder agriculture. In addition, unsustainable hunting and timber exploitation, expanding agriculture, and the granting of large concessions for hydro-power development, mining and monoculture farming projects have put a tremendous strain on Lao natural resources. Deforestation, loss of biodiversity, declining availability of non-timber products, shrinking fish stocks and illegal wildlife trade are some of the major environmental factors that put poor rural families at risk in particular.