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Major Climate Resilience Project Launches in Lao PDR

The $28.2 million health-focused project will reach over a quarter of the country’s population

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Nov. 3, 2023)—Save the Children has signed an agreement with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to deliver, along with the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), and the World Health Organization (WHO), the first health systems project funded by the Green Climate Fund.

The US$28.2 million climate finance deal will increase the climate resilience and sustainability of the Lao PDR health system while supporting climate-vulnerable communities to respond to current and anticipated impacts of climate change on their health. 

Principally funded by the Green Climate Fund, with co-financing from Save the Children Australia, the Government of Lao PDR, and WHO, Strengthening Climate Resilience of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) Health System Project will intensively support 100 health facilities and 250 communities over the next five years. It will also provide enhanced early warning systems and improved health service access to over 1.8 million people living in highly climate-vulnerable rural areas.

An individual donor, J. Heinrich Jessen, Director of the Bataua Fund, has also provided funds to support Save the Children with the implementation of this project.

Children in Lao PDR face severe health challenges caused by disease-specific impacts of the climate crisis, including an increase in the risk of dengue fever, diarrheal diseases, and malnutrition, a result of climate-related events destroying crops and habitats and rudimentary water and sanitation infrastructure.

Save the Children Australia CEO, Mat Tinkler, said:

“Save the Children is immensely proud to see this project approved in Lao PDR, a country which is already facing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis, including more extreme heatwaves, droughts, and floods. For children, these impacts can rob them of their health and wellbeing, education, and future opportunities. Strengthening the climate resilience of health facilities across the country will help prepare more than 1.8 million people in vulnerable communities to better respond to and mitigate climate-related health risks.”

GCF Director of Mitigation and Adaptation, German Velasquez, said:

“Developing countries with limited health infrastructure are often the least able to cope to prepare and respond to climate stresses, yet the health sector has received very little climate financing to date. GCF is proud to partner with Save the Children Australia, WHO, and the Government of Lao PDR to increase the climate resilience of Lao’s health systems.  As GCF’s first solely health-focused project, we expect this will serve as a model for future projects to scale up climate-resilient health services in vulnerable countries.”

Director General of the Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion, Lao PDR Ministry of Health, Dr. Phonepaseuth Ounaphom, said:

“The Government of Lao PDR and the Ministry of Health are pleased to see the Strengthening Climate Resilience of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic Health System project approved by the GCF.  We are proud that Lao PDR will be the first country in the world to receive funding from the GCF for a fully health-focused project. The project supports the Government of Lao to implement components of the Health National Adaptation Plan 2023. As Lao PDR strives to meet its own ambitions, we are also proud that this project will serve as an example for countries around the world on how the impacts of climate change on health and healthcare systems can be tackled and healthcare systems can be made more resilient.”

Director of the Bataua Fund, J. Heinrich Jessen, said:

“From the perspective of an individual donor, partnering on this large-scale, climate-related health systems project in Lao PDR with Save the Children, the Green Climate Fund, and the Government of Lao PDR provides me with an unprecedented opportunity to leverage my investment to help vulnerable children and families experiencing the impact of changing climate conditions in the ASEAN region. My involvement in this work builds on a long-held passion for environmental sustainability and corporate commitment to ASEAN and climate neutrality. I look forward to the outcomes of this important initiative and wish the team every success.”

World Health Organization Representative to Lao PDR, Dr Ying Ru Lo, said:

“The climate crisis is a health crisis; health in Lao PDR and the health system are highly vulnerable to a changing climate, including floods, drought, and extreme weather. Anything that can be done must be done, for current and future generations. This project is a significant step forward to addressing this threat, recognizing the many impacts on health, and committing major assistance to protect healthcare facilities and communities.”

This is Save the Children’s third project with the Green Climate Fund and first in Asia, following the launch of major climate resilience and adaptation programs in Solomon Islands in July 2023 and Vanuatu in May 2022.

This important project will be implemented in partnership with the Lao PDR Ministry of Health, WHO, and partner health facilities and communities following extensive consultations with stakeholders.

The Board of the Green Climate Fund approved financing for the project at a board meeting last week. Representatives from the Green Climate Fund and Save the Children signed the project agreement at a virtual ceremony on October 26. 


Notes to Editors:

  • The project is supported primarily by a US$25 million grant from the Green Climate Fund.
  • The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is the world’s largest dedicated climate fund. GCF’s mandate is to foster a paradigm shift towards low emission, climate resilient development pathways in developing countries. GCF has a portfolio of projects and programs across more than 100 countries. It also has a readiness support program to build capacity and help countries develop long-term plans to fight climate change. The GCF is an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and serves the 2015 Paris Agreement, supporting the goal of keeping average global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius.
  • Save the Children Australia in 2019 became the first development/humanitarian NGO to be accredited by the GCF, allowing the agency to partner with developing countries and apply for project funding. Save the Children Australia has long been a leader in climate change programming for the global Save the Children movement and leverages its significant global network of specialist technical advisers working in climate change, disaster risk reduction, health, water and sanitation, livelihoods, agriculture, and food security to develop and deliver climate programs.


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