Commitment to the Environment
To ensure electricity is generated in a reliable and sustainable manner, the Nam Theun 2 Power Company (NTPC) conducts various environmental studies to assess and mitigate potential impact of the Nam Theun 2 Hydro Project.
NTPC provides in-house expertise on water chemistry, hydrobiology, greenhouse gas emission and wildlife in relation with the Nam Theun 2 (NT2) hydro system.
All results are communicated through scientific publications and progress reports are available on NTPC website.
On the road to international label for protected areas:
Nakai-Nam Theun National Park applies to worldwide recognized IUCN Green List.
Nam Theun 2’s close environment is unique: the watershed and Nakai-Nam Theun National Park, covered by thick humid jungle, are one of the last remaining wildernesses in the Indochinese Peninsula.
NTPC and Nakai-Nam Theun National Park have recently partnered with the international NGO IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) to offer this unique area extensive protection and international recognition.
A sanctuary of biodiversity anchored in Nam Theun 2’s identity.
Back to the beginning of Nam Theun 2 in 1995, the wet evergreen forest and watershed of Nakai-Nam Theun were already at the core of NTPC’s hydropower project. The concession agreement with the Government of Laos relies to a large extent on the annual allocation of $1.3 million of the hydropower project revenues for conservation to the Watershed Management and Protection Authority (WMPA).
In 2019, Nakai-Nam Theun was officially designated a National Park (NNT-NP). Nevertheless, covering 4,000 km2 across the central provinces of Khammuane and Bolikhamxay, NNT-NP, like other protected areas in the world, experiences today growing pressures both from human activities (especially loss of wildlife through poaching) and climate change issues.
NNT-NP is all the more to protect, that it holds numerous rare endemic species and that some of the most recent mammals to be discovered were found in this region. It is the home of the Asian Elephant, the White-cheeked Gibbon and the endangered Red-Shanked Douc (see picture below). Unfortunately, among those species, the Saola and the Indochinese Tiger, for example, may already have disappeared for good.
IUCN Green List: an operational tool to deliver conservation measurable outcomes.
To mitigate the impacts of its activities on the surrounding area, NTPC has been conducting specific environmental programs: the providing of artificial mineral licks for 132 wild elephants living in the park, a 1300 seedlings restoration project for conservation of the Chinese Swamp Cypress (the park being one of the last areas in the world where this species exists), or the financing of anti-poaching patrols through the annual fund allocation.
But the complex interactions between flora, fauna and human activities need a global strategy to result in effective conservation outcomes.
Taking advantage of the fact that 2021 was declared a crucial year for biodiversity, NTPC and NNT-NP will sign in June 2021 a contract with the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), funding the conduct of a gap analysis (a self-assessment of the park’s management’s current practices), the first step prior to applying to IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas.
Drawing on the conclusions of this multi-faceted analysis (on governance, design and planning, effective management, and positive conservation outcomes of the park), recommendations will be made to the park on behalf of IUCN experts. NNT-NP, with the support of IUCN and NTPC, will then implement these recommendations.
With the funding of the gap analysis, NTPC expects to lay the cornerstone for the upscaling of the park’s management skills, and lead to NNT-NP registration on the Green List by 2024. Thus, NNT-NP will join the 59 sites in the world already registered under this international benchmark for quality.
With 22 sites already on the Green List, France occupies a leading position on the topic and even aims at protecting 30% of its natural areas in metropolitan and overseas territories before 2030.
Monitor, implement, upscale.
Water quality sampling, aquatic life survey, watershed management: all these activities are part of NTPC’s environment teams’ daily tasks. For our conservation partners on the field, the Green List application will contribute to biodiversity’s reality assessment on the ground.
For NTPC, this is not only a way to better monitor its direct environment, but also an additional guarantee that its 30-years long contribution to the park management will result in long-lasting conservation outcomes for people and nature, in line with the strategy of the Government of Lao PDR. By committing to meet and maintain the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas Standards, NNT-NP must deliver concrete conservation results. This can be translated into better management and consultation procedures, or the increase of a species’ population in the park.
On the long term, the Government of Lao PDR seeks to propose NNT-NP as the 2nd site to apply to UNESCO’s Natural World Heritage List. Such recognition would raise interest for the province, boosting touristic flows and nature-based activities (like birding), thus attracting private investors. Ultimately, more diversified income sources for the local communities also mean more sustainable livelihood, in line with NTPC’s strategy for the communities living in the project’s area.
On the international scene, Lao PDR’s efforts for conservation will be showcased next September at IUCN World Congress in France and eventually raise interest among scientific searchers, funders and conservation actors.
A regional synergy at the heart of Nam Theun 2 and NNT-NP’s initiative.
Such an ambitious goal requires strong partnerships. In February 2021, NTPC, along with key conservation and Lao and international political actors, joined a roundtable on Protected Areas in Lao PDR organized by the French Embassy. Since Hin Nam No National Park, located further South and belonging to the same range of Annamite Mountains, is also undergoing Green List application procedure, synergies were discussed to increase conservation outcomes and reduce implementation costs. Another hope resides in the establishment on the long-term of regional dynamics with neighboring protected areas of Vietnam.
Field missions on the watershed and trekking in the heart of Nakai-Nam Theun National were also organized through 2021. They nourished the growing consensus led by the Lao Government on the need to upscale protected areas management in the country.
With this element, NTPC’s Corporate and Social responsibility Unit strives to achieve one of its 4 sustainability goals for 2035: the protection of NNT-NP’s biodiversity via the Green List and its accession to UNESCO’s Natural World Heritage status.