Investing in human capital to build back better
Policy Dialogue on “Investing in the Human Capital of Lao PDR” against the backdrop of COVID-19
Vientiane, 15 September 2020 – This afternoon, the Government of Lao PDR, United Nations agencies and key stakeholders held a High-level Thematic Policy Dialogue on “Investing in the Human Capital of Lao PDR” to address the more challenging development context due to COVID-19.
This was the third of five thematic dialogues under a Multi-Stakeholder Taskforce convened to study the implications of COVID-19 in support of a determination of the 9th National Socio-economic Development Plan (NSEDP) and informing SDG localization.
In addition to the NSEDP pillar on developing human assets itself, investments in the development of human capital are also a critical consideration under other pillars of the NSEDP on spurring broad-based economic growth and nurturing social cohesion and well-being, as well as crucial elements in honoring commitments made on the 30th anniversary on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Conference on Population and Development Summit in Nairobi last year.
Yet, as is the case across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll in the development of human capital through the closure of schools, disruptions in healthcare delivery and income shock that increase pre-existing disparities. For Lao PDR, in the early stages of a demographic transition that could potentially transform development prospects with the right investments, finding viable ways forward under the changed circumstances is all the more important.
The high-level dialogue discussed the implications of the pandemic for the coming 5-year planning period, and possible strategic recalibrations to plans in light of the changed context.
This dialogue was co-chaired by Ms. Phonevanh Ounavong, Director General of Planning, Ministry of Planning and Investment, and Ms. Sara Sekkenes, UN Resident Coordinator. Preparations undertaken by the UN Agencies UNICEF, UNFPA and WHO in collaboration with the Ministries of Education and Sports and of Helath also included contributions by the Lao Youth Union and the Lao Women’s Union, the Center for Development Policy and Research at MPI, UN-Habitat and UNIDO. Other participants at the event included Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Ministry of Planning and Investment, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Public Security, the Embassy of Japan, Embassy of France as well as several other development partners and UN agencies in Lao PDR.
Previous dialogues have focused on trade and value chain opportunities as well as on the macroeconomic situation. Upcoming dialogues later this week will discuss themes on Skill Development and Sustainable Employment; and Green Growth, Resilience and Risk Management.