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The United Nations Common Country Analysis Lao PDR 2021

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The UN Common Country Analysis (CCA) is an integrated, forward-looking, and evidence-based analysis of the country context for sustainable development. It is an impartial, collective, and independent analysis undertaken by the UN to help determine its priorities for the next programming cycle to assist the country realise its development vision and achieve the 2030 Agenda. It aims to ensure that UN support to the host government is relevant and linked to national development priorities as well as within its normative role, as mandated by the UN Development Group (UNDG) as guided by Member States. The CCA is both an assessment of the current situation and an analysis of gaps, challenges, and opportunities. Together with the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) outlining the Government's development priorities and the outcome of a recent independent evaluation of the current Lao PDR-UN Partnership Framework 2017-2021, the CCA has been a key document for the UN country team’s (UNCT) visioning and strategic prioritisation exercise, and the development of a theory of change for each of the prioritised areas identified, in the run up to the formulation of the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2022-2026 (UNSDCF) together with the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR).

The CCA reflects the integrated nature of the SDGs, and is structured to provide a cumulative, logical articulation of the key development challenges and opportunities for Lao PDR to inform future strategic programming decisions. It takes into account the linkages across topics, to assess the implications of the development trends on the development vision for 2030, and pays particular attention to cross-border perspectives, given the geographical and social context of Lao PDR. In accordance with Member States’ commitments to the 2030 Agenda, the CCA further mainstreams efforts to leave no one behind, addressing gender equality and women’s empowerment, sustainability and resilience as outlined by the UNDG Guiding Principles1 for development cooperation as directed by UN Member States in the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review of UN development system operational activities (QCPR).

The substantive analysis in this CCA begins by setting out the broad national context in terms of politics and institutions, economic transformation, demography, and vulnerability to climate change and disasters in Chapter 3 followed by a description in Chapter 4 of how the national development vision relates to the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is followed by in-depth analysis of the situation, prospects, and drivers of each SDG, structured around the 5 over-arching dimensions of the 2030 Agenda, namely people, prosperity, planet, peace, and partnerships.

Based on this analysis, with the objective of facilitating potential course corrections, Chapter 6 examines the factors and drivers of vulnerability in the prospects of attaining these development goals and identifies population groups most at risk of being left behind from the development process as it is currently unfolding. Chapter 7 assesses compliance with the obligations of Lao PDR to the international human rights instruments it subscribes to and the adherence to international norms and standards more broadly. Chapter 8 analyses the financial landscape to identify the key issues and challenges with sourcing the resources to address the development challenges identified. Chapter 9 assesses risk, and Chapter 10 concludes by identifying the key gaps and challenges toward the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in Lao PDR.

The CCA is prepared based on both secondary and primary information. Secondary information was sourced from strategic documents of UN entities, reports from the country’s international commitments, national strategic documents, knowledge products and international organisations. A repository of such documents was created by the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office (RCO) and regularly updated during the process. Primary information was collected from interviews with key interlocutors representing the interests of a broad range of population groups including those often referred to as marginalised and from the surveys conducted by UN entities with various target groups (youth, women, migrants, persons with disabilities, etc). Secondary qualitative sources, such as Government’s submissions under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), were triangulated with interviews with UN agencies and civil society to collect and verify different perspectives. Any variance in perceptions–such as in the compliance with human rights mechanisms–is reported in the CCA.

Additionally, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020, the CCA takes into account assessments available on the impact of the pandemic on lives and livelihoods. These assessments, carried out by individual UN and non-UN organisations in their respective areas of mandate, were synthesised in the UN Lao PDR Socio-Economic Response Plan (SERP) to COVID-19. The SERP is a forward-looking plan and examines how multiple risks can affect the lives of different population segments with emphasis on those at pre-existing risk of exclusion and marginalisation.

Led by the UN Resident Coordinator (UNRC) and the day-to-day management of the RCO, the UNCT had the full ownership of the process. This included providing information and data, enriching the document with countryspecific information, and comments. Both resident and non-resident UNCT members made substantive contributions to the document. They were also instrumental in facilitating consultations with key stakeholders including with national counterparts. Regular consultations were held with the thematic Results Groups for outcome areas under the current UN Partnership Framework and a CCA Task Team consisting of technical and programme staff of UNCT member agencies, funds, and programmes.

The main stakeholders consulted include Government representatives, in-country and off-site development partners and diplomatic member state missions, civil society, and representatives of vulnerable and marginalised groups. Virtual consultations were held with civil society organisations representing perspectives of vulnerable groups. The Government’s perspectives, and those of development partners, were further captured through numerous in-person and online participation in the six policy dialogues of the Multi-Stakeholder Taskforce to Study the Impact of COVID-19 in the preparation of the 9th NSEDP and SDG Localisation in Lao PDR. In addition, the surveys conducted by UN, including in the lead up to UN75 Anniversary and during the COVID-19 including in preparation for the SERP, were used to reflect voices from the ground and to understand their needs, aspirations, and visions.