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Lao PDR – The Environmental Performance Rundown



It is rather intriguing how measurement suddenly becomes vital when businesses and governments alike stand at the brink of desperation and collapse. It is not the way it should be, but it is unfortunately true that measurement is sometimes more of a lifeline than a rule.

And with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic – also known as Lao PDR, the environmental issues were getting out of hand, until the government decided that there is dire need for mending. Having uncovered a continuous deterioration in the state’s natural resources and biodiversity, The National Environmental Performance Assessment Report (EPA) of 2008, was meant to provide a valid image of the true state of environmental performance in the country.

The Pressure-State-Response Framework, P-S-R for short, would become the rescue mechanism of an environmentally worn out state, that was continuously degrading.

Selection of Performance Indicators

The Pressure-State-Response (P-S-R) Framework links the sources of environmental factors (“pressure factors”) with elements of environmental concern (“state factors”) and governmental policy considerations (“response factors”).

As such, logic connections are created and complex inter-relationships simplified, so as to create a valid background for further analysis. By means of this simplification, the most relevant in P, S and R factors are selected to become indicators of past trends and future performance.


Fig 1. Simplified Representation of a P-S-R Model (Hypothetical Example of Air Quality Management) with four Indicators of Performance

Assessment Method Used

The Environmental Assessment carried by Lao PDR assigns a rating for: (1) individual indicators and (2) the overall environmental performance of the state. A star rating is then used to assess environmental performance under the main areas of concern, namely: forest resources, water resources, fish resources, threat to biodiversity, land degradation, inadequate solid waste management, inadequate solid waste management and climate change.

The star rating is given based on the results of the chosen performance indicators, and it is defined as follows:

1-Star rating

1) Reasonable targets have not been set or have not been met.

2) International conventions have not been ratified or adhered to.

3) No ongoing monitoring or data collection.

4) No clear institutional role and responsibilities for environmental management of environmental concerns have been assigned or where they have been, no tangible progress has been achieved suggesting an appropriate response and non-achievement of the target.

2-Star rating

1) Targets have been set and generally met.

2) International conventions have been or will be ratified and most of the reporting requirements have been met

3) Plans exist for ongoing monitoring and data collection.

4) Institutional responsibilities assigned though limited progress achieved due to weaknesses in institutional arrangements e.g. lack of coordination, duplication of roles, multiplicity of authorities etc.

3-Star rating

1) Effective targets have been set and met.

2) International conventions have been ratified and reporting requirements have been met.

3) Ongoing monitoring and databases exist.

4) Specific institutions with targeted roles and responsibilities assigned or institutional measures put in place for the management of certain concerns.

Good examples of this would be the EIA process or even more direct practices, such as having an adequate budget and sufficient resources for environmental monitoring, equipping staff members with the appropriate technical skills and know-how, engaging in regular interaction with industry representatives and NGOs on environmental management matters etc.


Documentation of Performance Indicators

The Environmental Assessment of Lao PDR’s main priority areas is backed up by solid, documented evidence on the measurement of the selected performance indicators.

Indicator fact sheets – otherwise known as documentation forms, are used to compile four types of information on the selected indicators, namely: database information, technical information, qualitative information and supporting data.

Database information refers to: indicator ID, indicator name, year of assessment, type of indicator, FAQs, priority concern, geographic area, magnitude and trend.

Technical information relates to: definition, data source, geographic coverage, temporal coverage, methodology and frequency of coverage, methodology of data manipulation.

Qualitative information discloses: strengths and weaknesses at data level; reliability, accuracy, robustness and uncertainty of data; future work required (at data level and indicator level).

Supporting data consists of data tables, dashboards and maps that reflect on the trend, as well as the historical results and evolution of the performance indicator.


Although it was a long wait, the Lao PDR National Environmental Performance Assessment (EPA) Report manages to bring together a fine collection of best practices in terms of performance measurement and performance assessment.

The P-S-R Framework assembles valid techniques for the selection of performance indicators, and rigorous auditing and rating methodologies. The Performance Indicator Fact Sheets are best-in-class examples of thorough KPI documentation for a well-grounded and reliable data analysis and reporting process.

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