Lao PDR Then & Now: Implementing Partnership Mechanisms Since the 2006 Vientiane Declaration
Ensuring Least Developed Country graduation, pursuing un-met MDGs and SDGs, and achieving better development results, are all high on Lao PDR’s development agenda. Working alongside development partners and other stakeholders such as the private sector, civil society, academia and others to meet these objectives is also a key priority for the country since 2006.
In 2006, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) and 22 development partners signed the ‘Vientiane Declaration on Aid Effectiveness’ at the 9th High-Level Round Table Meeting  in an attempt to localize the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. The document lays down the foundations and principles of aid coordination, giving way to a new partnership in 2015 at the 12th High-Level Forum called the ‘Vientiane Declaration on Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation’.
The Declaration, signed by the Government and more than 30 development partners after the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation’s first high-level meeting in 2014, was a signal to renew commitments to effective co-operation principles and work towards the global 2030 Agenda. It reflected lessons learnt from the previous partnership mechanism (2006 Declaration) and added the importance of working with emerging donors, the private sector, civil society and Southern partners. Most importantly, it stressed a more diverse and equal partnership, over bilateral donor-recipient type of approaches, a core principle of effective development co-operation. The Declaration also aligned strongly with elements of the SDG 16 on building peaceful and inclusive societies and with SDG 17 on partnerships.
The Declaration as well as the design and implementation of subsequent national development plans and processes, such as 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP 2016-2020), 10-year Socio-Economic Development Strategy (2016-2025) and the National Vision 2030, form a broad development framework to guide an inclusive dialogue mechanism called the Round Table Process. This structured partnership mechanism along with Laos’ 10 Sector Working Groups have greatly contributed to development effectiveness. The setting allows government and partners, such as traditional and South-South co-operation development partners, civil society and the private sector, academia and others to engage in direct dialogue and come to a common understanding on key policy priorities and programmes. Moreover, it promotes greater national ownership, partners’ alignment with national priorities/goals and better harmonization for development among various partners.
Adhering to the principles of inclusive partnership, Lao PDR’s 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) was prepared with the participation of all government ministries, provincial authorities, and citizens across the country. Consultations were also extended to donor and developing countries, UN agencies, business and civil society organizations working to lay the foundations for action in implementing the 8th Plan. The plan emphasized the need for ‘actively widening international co-operation with ownership in various forms oriented towards benefit for all, enhancing favorable conditions for regional and international integration’. To this end, the common objectives of participating partners included poverty reduction, graduation from Least Developed Country status and achievement of the 2030 Agenda – ultimately, to improve the lives of the people in Lao PDR.
To measure progress against the plan, the Government also developed a comprehensive NSEDP monitoring and evaluation framework incorporating the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and relevant SDGs. Currently, around 60 percent of the SDG indicators are integrated into this M&E framework.
Having participated in the Global Partnership’s 2016 monitoring round and now the 2018 round, Lao PDR has also been actively working to monitor its progress against achieving effective development co-operation at the country level, directly measuring progress on SDG 5 and 17.
Additionally, Lao PDR has also engaged in evidence gathering and analysis to assess its development financing situation. The country has recently completed a Development Finance Assessment (DFA) which has been instrumental in providing recommendations to the government on the sources of development finance available and how to strengthen institutions and policies in addressing some of the financing challenges to achieving sustainable development. For example, the 2018 DFA, outlined potential challenges in maintaining levels of investment as Lao PDR’s graduation from LDC Status may mean receiving different forms of official development assistance.
From the Vientiane Declaration and High-Level Meetings to the NSEDP, DFA and Global Partnership monitoring process, these partnership exercises highlight Laos’ ongoing commitment towards effective delivery of development and in achieving Laos’ 2025 national and 2030 global goals.
 A national development co-operation forum chaired by the Government and co-chaired by the UNDP