Lao PDR's Human Development Index value rises again, but environmental degradation and damage threaten progress

Nov 15, 2011

Development progress in Lao PDR has been recognized by a rise in the country's Human Development Index value (HDI) from 0.520 in 2010 to 0.524 in 2011, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) global Human Development Report (HDR) 2011. Lao PDR has seen a 39 percent rise in its HDI since the first Human Development Report was published in 1990.

Critically there has also been an improvement in the inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI) with Lao PDR moving up 6 places to 107 out of 134 countries covered in the report titled, Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All. However, hard-won gains in Least Developed Countries, such as Lao PDR, could be slowed or even reversed by environmental threats. These will affect the poorest people the hardest and could further widen the inequality gap in nations like Lao PDR, the report states.

Dr. Bounthavy Sisouphanthong, Vice Minister, Ministry of Planning and Investment, presented the findings today alongside Mr. Minh H. Pham, UNDP Resident Representative in Lao PDR, in a ceremony at the Don Chan Palace Hotel.

Speaking at the launch event, Dr. Bounthavy Sisouphanthong, said, “The HDRs have significantly contributed to development at all levels. The HDR 2011 raises the issue of environmental degradation. I hope that this HDR will help our policy decision makers to formulate the most appropriate and environmentally friendly development policy to ensure that Lao people really benefit from sustainable development.”

He added that with the launch of the National Human Development Reports (NHDR) in 1998, the concept of human development has been aligned with the National Socio-Economic Development Plans (NSEDP).

Mr. Minh H. Pham praised the development gains achieved by the country and highlighted the impressive economic growth. Yet to achieve human development, he said all Lao people must benefit, however there is still a way to go because of persistent income generation, gender imbalances and environmental destruction all of which places a “double burden of deprivation” on the poorest households and communities.

“The large majority of Lao people still live and work in rural areas,” he stated. “Their dependence on natural resources for food and incomes further raises the stakes in enforcing environmental preservation.”

Human Development is about creating an environment in which people can develop their full potential and lead productive and creative lives. It is about expanding the choices people have to lead lives that they value.

HDI is calculated by taking into account the combined indicators of life expectancy, education and income. The HDI statistic as a result covers both social and economic development. The inequality adjusted HDI (IHDI) was first introduced in 2010 and reflects inequality in every aspect addressed by the HDI.

The global Human Development Reports are published annually with National Human Development Reports produced every four years. The last one in Lao PDR was launched in 2010 and was titled, Employment and Livelihoods.

Contact information

Latsany Phakdisoth at UNDP: Tel: 021 267 737, email:

Toby Fricker at UNDP: Tel: 020 5462 2697, email:

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