NUOL project building capacity in environmental impact assessment

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The Faculty of Environmental Sciences at the National University of Laos (NUOL) is reporting substantial progress in its project to build capacity in technical knowledge for environmental impact assessments (EIA).  

The project, running from 2018-2020, has been developing EIA training courses and textbooks for government staff, as well as district and provincial officials across the country, to enhance understanding of this field.

This year, the EIA project has organised training courses, conducted studies and shared knowledge with officials from Huaphan, Xieng Khuang, Luang Prabang, Borikhamxay, Khammuan, Savannakhet and Vientiane provinces and students at the Faculty of Environmental Sciences. Manager of the EIA project, Ms Khemngeun Pongmala, said 12 activities were being undertaken each year under the US$658,075 initiative funded by the government with support from the World Bank.

“The project is very significant and has delivered excellent results in developing knowledge and skills in environmental impact assessment,” she said.

The training modules covered all technical aspects of EIA including preparing, piloting and delivering, and evaluated environmental impacts in hydropower, mining, agriculture, industry and infrastructure projects, she added. During the first stage, the Faculty of Environmental Sciences conducted a needs assessment survey in Vientiane and targeted provinces to define the EIA capacity gaps relating to government staff.

The faculty then organised consultative meetings with the Department of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (DESIA) of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and other stakeholders to define the scope of technical training to be provided based on the capacity needs and gaps of government officials while reviewing, approving and monitoring compliance with environmental impact assessments and related instruments. This activity was conducted during the first year of the project.

To develop training modules during this phase, the Faculty of Environmental Sciences recruited technical assistance based on the agreement with DESIA and relevant agencies. The faculty developed the curricula, materials, training approach, and criteria for the selection of participants.

The modules were piloted at the central level, with the first series of courses in the five areas of hydro, mining, agriculture, industry and transport delivered to faculty staff and central ministry staff in these five sectors. A core team of faculty trainers was also prepared during this stage. 

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