Tag Archives: France

Kings For A Day, Pastry Passions Of Lifetimes: Country’s French Patissiers Do La Galette des Rois

La Galette Des Rois in Vientiane, Laos

From Hotels to Bakehouses and more beyond, representatives the very best of the city’s patissiers were on show as the Ambassade de France au Laos hosted annual feast La Galette des Rois for Epiphany / 3 Kings Festival in Vientiane on January 10.

The nation’s Ambassadrice Mme Florence Jeanblanc-Risler, was there to offer words of welcome to guests in which she reaffirmed the nation’s commitment to the deep historical, longlasting and evolving links to Laos.

The Laotian Times was there to sample the feast for all senses & Laos Briefly joined the fun to capture a few pics, each putting on a few extra kilos just to fully round out the festive season once and for all…

La Galette des Rois in Vientiane, Laos

La Galette des Rois in Vientiane, Laos

Words via The Laotian Times
Images via Laos Briefly

Contributions Celebrated on International Day at UN House, Plus Laos’ PM hosts Volunteers

International Volunteers Day in Vientiane, Laos

Happy International Volunteer Day!

Countless and myriad. Such are the contributions of volunteers to making our communities better places to live, no matter where on the globe we call home.

Both Lao and international volunteers efforts in Laos were recognized for World Volunteers Day in the capital Vientiane Wednesday evening, with a celebration set to recognize efforts in building resilient communities.

International Volunteers Day in Vientiane, Laos

International Volunteers Day in Vientiane, Laos

Personal actions matter for community resilience.

At the event at Vientiane’s UN House, volunteers from multiple organizations were preparing to gather to share how they help build resilient communities.

Among these were official assistance volunteers in the form of United Nations Volunteers (UNV).

Joining them was Cuso International, is a non-profit development organization, whose goal is to work alongside local people in other countries, to improve the lives of people living with poverty and inequality.

Official assistance volunteers from France Volontaires and those of cooperation agencies from Japan (JICA) and the Republic of Korea (KOICA) were also in attendance as were members of Global Shapers Vientiane Hub, a World Economic Forum youth initiative.

Insights and inspiration from volunteers on the ground were set to be shared, along with dance performances and networking opportunities.

International Volunteers Day in Vientiane, Laos

International Volunteers Day in Vientiane, Laos


UN Representative’s Message

Addressing the gathering was UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Kaarina Immonen.

“The International Volunteer Day (IVD), which was established by the United Nations in 1985, is an initiative to recognise contributions to development agenda made by volunteers, organisations and communities, joining by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide,” Ms Immonen said.

“Since 1983, more than 1,100 UN volunteers have served in Lao PDR from over 60 countries, and around 30 UN volunteers serve annually in various UN agencies, project offices and Lao government ministries.

“They devote themselves in constructing better future for the Lao population in different fields.

“This year, our campaign set a closer look on how local community volunteers contribute to building resilient communities.

“In the 2018 State of the World’s Volunteerism Report released lately, it stated volunteerism provides a mechanism for channeling individual actions into collective strategies for coping with risk.

“These strategies help build social relationships, forging bonds of solidarity, enhance trust, expand people’s support base and lessen their vulnerability to shocks and stresses.

“When Laos was hit by the worst flood in its history last July, UN volunteer was one of the members of our emergency response team to supply food donations and clothes to the affected communities.

“Our volunteers sustain their support to the communities by coordinating disaster relief tasks, educating rural communities and ethnic groups on disaster preparedness through community radio, assisting Unexploded Ordnance clearance in flooded areas, raising Lao population’s awareness on climate change issues, encouraging them to take climate actions and promoting environmental sustainability.

“We would like have our locals to learn how different sectors work on community resilience.

“Therefore, UN Volunteers Programme in Lao PDR decided to commemorate the International Volunteer day by inviting different partners to share their volunteer experience, encouraging the public to get involved in volunteerism in their own ways.”

PM Thongloun asks for insights from Japan’s volunteers

Earlier in the week, insights and impressions from experiences at the grassroots was the Prime Ministerial request.

Members of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCVs) and Japan’s Senior Volunteers (SV) were hosted by Mr Thongloun Sisoulith and senior officials on for an annual courtesy call and informal exchange on Monday, December 10.

According to the Embassy of Japan, Mr. Thongloun expressed heartwarming appreciation for volunteers’ daily efforts. The volunteers also reported on their activities and challenges that they directly are facing on the ground.  In response, the Prime Minister made comments on the initiatives being made by the Government of Laos.

Japan has been dispatched Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCVs) since 1965 and Lao PDR is the first country in the world which received the volunteers from Japan.

Since then, 992 Volunteers have been making efforts to solve development issues in various sectors together with the people of the Lao PDR. The 1000th Japanese volunteer to Laos is set to arrive in early 2019.

Prime Minister Thongloun welcomes visit from Volunteers from Japan via JICA

Prime Minister Thongloun welcomes visit from Volunteers from Japan via JICA

PM Thongloun meets Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV)

PM Thongloun meets Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) via JICA

PM Thongloun meets Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV)

 PM Thongloun meets Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) via JICA

PM Thongloun meets Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) via JICA

Laos, Mekong habitat hotspot aid helps communities, climate, conservation

Human lives and habitats intertwine

With a habitat range boasting more biodiversity per square metre than the mighty Amazon basin, the arc where mountains meet the plains via the Mekong and other major river valleys form the Indo-Burma hotspot that includes Laos is well known as an area of immense natural and ecological value that is nevertheless under increased threat from degradation as populations and demands grow and the climate changes.

Efforts to protect, preserve and nurture wildlife habitat and the landscapes as well as the communities that live nearby have been given a boost via a 4-year project to support conservation activities centered on six high biodiversity landscapes in Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia.

Encompassing some 14 protected areas in total regionwide, the Financing Agreement for the conservation of biodiversity and green growth in the Indo-Burma hotspot is co-financed by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

The hotspots in Laos subject to the agreement include Phou Sithone (Bolihamxay), Nam Gnouang (Bolikhamxay) and Nam et Phou Louey (Houapanh LPB and Xieng Khuang). 

The three parties inked an agreement in Vientiane Wednesday for joint implementation by local authorities of each country, the private sector and WCS teams on the ground.

The project will focus on 5 key components and follows a first 4-year phase (2014-2018) and aims at strengthening the achievements, extending geographical coverage and developing integrated management models for landscapes.

Components include (i) an integrated landscape management approach, (ii) development of community-led enterprises that value the conservation of biodiversity, (iii) Improvement of commercial practices for green growth, (iv) promotion of the application of environmental, social and governance safeguard standards, and (v) communication and experience-sharing.

‘Climate and Biodiversity are global common goods. Tackling climate change and preserving biodiversity are top priorities for France,’ Her Excellency Ms Florence Jeanblanc-Risler, Ambassador of France to the Lao PDR told the gathering for the signing of the agreement in Vientiane attended by Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Mr Khambounnath Xayanone and Director-General of Department of Forestry, Mr Susath Xayakhoummaane and representatives of the embassies of Myanmar and Cambodia to Laos.

“This project will directly address the strategies identified in Laos’ National Biodiversity and Action Plan that aims to enhance the role of biodiversity as a national heritage and as a substantial contributor to poverty alleviation, as well as sustainable and resilient economic growth,’ Dr Santi Saypanya, WCS Lao PDR Deputy Director said.

He said WCS has been present in the countries of Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia for over 20 years.

This project ‘fits very well within the National Biodiversity Strategies of each country, and setting up public-private partnerships to finance the protection of biodiversity is a sustainable mechanism to be modeled for ensuring inclusive local economic development’, Mr. Matthieu Bommier, Head of AFD Vientiane Office, told the gathering.

‘Lessons emerging from WCS’s regional program show that responding to large-scale drivers of deforestation in high biodiversity landscapes requires solutions that integrate action across multiple scales with engagement of local communities, government, business sector developers, and financial investors.

“These drivers of deforestation, which are local, national and international in scope and scale, continue to exert severe and growing pressure on protected areas and local livelihoods in these high biodiversity landscapes, and demand sustained and coordinated action at multiple scales to address them,’ he said.

This presence forms the backbone of the WCS Greater Mekong priority region, providing the most advanced WCS regional program in terms of addressing major cross-cutting threats to biodiversity conservation and human welfare.

WCS has multi-year MoUs with the governments of Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia enabling a smooth and collaborative continuation of activities from the previous phase.

A video highlighting ongoing efforts including the popular tourist-friendly Nam Nern Night Safari at Nam Et Phou Louey Protected Area in Huaphan province was also screened at the signing.

Laos and France Bolsters Ties

france flag

In an effort to propel Laos from Least Developed Country status by 2020, the French government is continuing to support and assist many sectors within the country.

Since 1994, the French Development Agency (AFD) has supplied EUR 80 million in loans and has dispensed EUR 150 million into grants, pledging an estimated total of EUR 230 million to Laos.

During a discussion on Thursday, previous efforts were reviewed along with planning for next year’s bilateral cooperation. The meeting was attended by Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr Kikeo Chanthaboury, Ambassador of France to Laos, Ms Claudine Ledoux, along with other officials.

Dr Kikeo stated, “The government of France has supported and assisted many sectors of the Lao government, especially agriculture and rural development, urban and socio-cultural development, governance, education, and health. This conforms to the goals of the 8th five-year National Socio-Economic Development Plan (2016-2020) which is targeting the removal of Laos from Least Developed Country status.”

The AFD has been earnestly involved with agriculture and rural development by supporting the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in its approach of ensuring food security, promoting competitive commodities and developing clean, safe and sustainable agriculture.

In a presentation made by the World Heritage Offices of Luang Prabang and Vat Phou, AFD’s long-term connection with cultural heritage conservation and urban development was highlighted and commended. The objective is to build capacity among local authorities so they are able to balance heritage conservation with urban development.

The French Embassy gave a presentation on its ongoing action in the field of governance which has two priorities: respect for the rule of law and the emergence of civil society in Laos.

France has been working closely with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to design and implement a master plan for justice in Laos, focusing on the professional training of Lao magistrates and lawyers, a field in which France has excelled in.

French development assistance to Laos is evaluated at an estimated US$15 million each year and US$25 million globally, including France’s financial aid through multilateral channels (European Union, United Nations, etc.), which also benefits Laos.