By 2020, Lao PDR aims to graduate from the status of a Least Developed Country. To achieve this goal, the country is increasingly engaging in regional and international markets and encouraging foreign investment. The natural resources of Lao PDR especially receive great attention from economically strong neighboring countries which focus mainly on investments in hydropower, mining, forestry and agriculture. At present, the rural population benefits little from this economic upsurge. The risk is that investments will not sufficiently reduce poverty in the rural areas, but instead could limit people’s access to land.
Institutional capacity building and cross-sectoral cooperation among the institutions responsible for development planning, land management, investment promotion and agriculture is crucial to secure that investments benefit the population and that social and environmental risks are minimized.