Friday 3 September 2021 – Lao Ambassador to France, Electricite de France’s CEO and Nam Theun 2 Power Company’s CEO announced today the official application of Nakai-Nam Theun National Park (Lao PDR) to IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Green List, the international reference for the protection of natural areas.
Located next to Nakai-Nam Theun National Park, its watershed, the Nam Theun 2 Power Company is internationally recognized for putting environmental and social programs at the heart of Nam Theun 2 project since the early stages of its development. The support to the thousand years old wet forest of Nakai-Nam Theun, home to rare endemic species, is thus not new: since the early phases of the project, the company has allocated, as part of its concession agreement with the Lao government, more than 1 million USD each year in the management of this area, which was declared a National Park in 2019 by Prime Minister decree.
With IUCN Green List, Nam Theun 2 wants to go beyond its initial obligations: the enrollment into the Green List would mean a better and more sustainable protection for the biodiversity of the area, a sustainable protection of its water resource, and the opportunity to achieve an important milestone in its own corporate sustainability strategy.
Since 2020, Nam Theun 2 and IUCN have been working closely with the Lao Government to introduce the Nakai-Nam Theun National Park to the IUCN Green List. This tripartite partnership has been decisive in this process, and a driving force for high-profile events, like the roundtable on Protected Areas in Lao PDR organized in February 2021 by the French Embassy to Lao PDR, gathering key conservation actors, Lao and international political actors, along with NTPC and IUCN.
For Nakai-Nam Theun National Park, the first step towards the IUCN Green listing will consist of a detailed analysis of the needs and requirements of the park, which will begin as early as the first weeks of September, with local and international experts going on field missions.
H.E. Mr Yong Chanthalangsy, Ambassador of Laos to France, Mr Jean-Bernard Lévy, EDF’s CEO, Mrs Carine de Boissezon, Head of EDF’s Sustainable Development and Mr Olivier Didry, Nam Theun 2 Power Company CEO, gathered on Friday 03/09 to officially announce this application and discuss the positive links between hydropower and biodiversity protection for Nakai-Nam Theun National Park.
H.E. Mr Yong Chanthalangsy, Ambassador of Laos to France, described the IUCN Green List as an important milestone in the Lao Government’s efforts to protect the country’s biodiversity. “The IUCN international norms will allow for the Nakai-Nam Theun National Park to benefit from capacity building, access to experts, conduct of scientific research and additional funding, just to name a few” explained Mr. Chanthalangsy.
“With the Green List, we aim at attracting new conservation actors and lend their expertise and set forth a sustainable framework. The vision is also that Nakai-Nam Theun becomes a conservation model for other National Parks in Lao PDR”, completed NTPC’s CEO, Mr. Olivier Didry.
The opportunity for EDF’s CEO, Mr Jean-Bernard Lévy, to compare the case of Nakai-Nam Theun with a typical French project well-known from the audience: “In the 1960s, when EDF put in service the dam of Serre-Poncon on the Durance river, who would have imagined that 40 years later, tourism would be the first activity of this area? Beyond its intrinsic qualities, hydropower can be a driving force for development of territories and their environment.”
Owned at 40 % per EDF, Nam Theun 2 benefits since more than 20 years of EDF’s support and expertise on environmental topics. According to Mrs Carine de Boissezon, Head of EDF’s Sustainable Development, « Nakai-Nam Theun National Park’s application to IUCN Green List fits perfectly into EDF’s Raison d’Etre and its Act4Nature engagements. It is the opportunity to set the foundations of a sustainable development model where industry development and conservation efforts work in the same direction. »
The Lao Ambassador to France, who will attend the entire IUCN World Conservation Congress, from 3 to 11 September in Marseille, closed the event on Friday 03/09 with those words: “Lao PDR is extremely proud to be among the first parks of South-East Asia to apply to the Green List. Hin Nam No National Park, located further South and belonging to the same range of Annamite Mountains, is also undergoing Green List application procedure. Our goal is to create a global movement that will allow for an inclusive collaboration between government, private sector and civil society organizations, to set up a sustainable conservation model for National Parks in Lao PDR, that everyone will benefit from.”
Beginning commercial operations in 2010, the Nam Theun 2 (1080 MW) hydropower project operates under a public-private partnership. The Lao government holds a 25 percent share through the Lao Holding State Enterprise (LHSE), Electricité de France (EDF) holds a 40 percent share and Electricity Generating Public Company Limited (EGCO) holds a 35 percent share, under a 25-year concession agreement. The plant generates 6,000 GWh annually, providing electricity to the Lao (5 percent) and Thai (95 percent) power grids.