A Busy Maytiane Week

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Two seminars were arranged in Vientiane with the cooperation of Finland Futures Research Centre and Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) of Lao PDR, within the last week of May 2011. First one was the final FREPLA (Future Economy and Policies of Laos 2020) seminar, and it was followed by the kick-off workshop of INES, Interlinkages Between Energy and Livelihoods. I and the rest of the FFRC team present had the pleasure to take part in both, even though my personal contribution has been a great deal bigger for the INES project.

The FREPLA seminar was the fifth and the final to be held. Besides the FFRC staff, the participants attended were mainly government officials. Topics covered were diverse: from indicators of sustainable development to energy power plants and demand predictions. The future-orientated issues, forecasts and plans, seemed to interest the most and raise a fair amount of discussion.

INES workshop was the first one of the project. The participants represented various departments on provincial level. An interesting twist in the workshop was the fact that every presentation, question and comment was simultaneously translated into either Lao or English, depending on the language of the original speaker. Luckily, we were blessed with the exact right person for the job (many thanks to Dorn!), and the conversation flew smoothly.

A number of very important issues were taken up and discussed. Importance of reliable data availability was recognized. Consequently, organizing and funding continuous, systematic data collection was seen as a key priority in terms of future planning and preparing. Some practical means for the reduction of energy consumption were also suggested. The need for training for energy and population modeling was brought up several times which, in fact, happens to be the next step of the project.

In addition to the organisers and participants, the two seminars attracted the local press. Vientiane Times wrote two articles, one of each assembly, on top of which a picture of Jyrki Luukkanen handing out the laptops to the INES participants was published separately. Evidence of the latter, originally published on the 1st of June 2011, is attached below. We also made it to the news of Lao National Television! Unfortunately though, everyone in our team missed the big show on-air.

All in all, our team and all our local partners had a busy but rewarding week in Vientiane this May. In order to get a deeper insight on the topics, all the presentations can be viewed and downloaded at Publications – Powerpoint Presentations on our Mekong-website.