16 March 2023, Vientiane Capital – UN-Habitat has initiated the first of four multiple-day capacity-building trainings on “Building resilience of urban populations with Ecosystem-based Solutions in Lao PDR”. The workshops build capacity among government officials in four provincial capitals which have been identified as the most affected and vulnerable Lao cities to climate-induced flooding: Vientiane Capital, Paksan, Savannakhet, and Pakse.
The project aims to shift the paradigm of urban flood management in Laos from a limited and hard infrastructure approach towards an integrated approach that enhances climate resilience. This will be achieved by mainstreaming integrated flood management strategies into planning frameworks and implementing urban Ecosystem-based solutions (EbS) to decrease climate-induced flooding.
Through the training, UN-Habitat contributes to bridging existing technical capacity and knowledge gaps, thereby empowering local and national representatives to reduce the flood vulnerability of urban communities. Using a practical approach that blends conceptual knowledge with hands-on skills, group exercises, and a field visit, the training equips participants with all tools needed to plan, implement and monitor EbS in urban contexts.
Emphasizing gender empowerment, both participants and trainers had a 50-50 ratio of women and men. Furthermore, gender dimensions are mainstreamed across various modules of the training, and there is an emphasis on cross-sectoral, iterative, and participatory approaches to urban planning and EbS implementation.
Day one and two of the training empower decision-makers and technical experts to deepen their understanding of climate change and ecosystem services, climate risk and vulnerability assessments, legal framework as well as spatial and urban planning at multiple government levels. An additional third day for technical experts equips them with in-depth tools for the whole EbS process spanning from analyses and data collection over project selection, implementation, and evaluation; as well as land-use regulations relevant for Lao PDR. The project is supported by a Green Climate Fund grant of USD 10 million and is executed by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) with the oversight of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) in charge of the capacity-building component. Over the five-year implementation phase, about 150 government officials will be trained, 1,500 ha of wetland and stream ecosystems will be restored, and the project interventions will directly benefit 74,600 people.