• Wyss Academy

Our Activities in the Southeast Asia Hub (2020)


Location/region: Savannakhet is the largest province in the south of Laos (~22,000 km2)


Inhabitants: approximately 1 million


Biodiversity: The Savannakhet province is part of the Southeast Asian biodiversity hotspot along the Annamite mountain range. It offers an unparalleled mix of different landscapes, including unique forest ecosystems with rich biodiversity, seriously endangered wildlife and wetlands under threat. However, the region is also characterized by considerable socioeconomic contrasts.


Establishment of the Southeast Asia Hub

Identification of possible models that will give the Wyss Academy a legal footing in Laos and in the region


Engagement:

  • Starting an engagement pro- cess to assess different valuations of nature and related power relations in Laos

  • Establish contact with a wide range of potential partners for the Wyss Academy’s future knowledge, engagement and incubator activities in Laos and in the region

Knowledge:

  • National modelling of high-resolution indicators for a broad spectrum of ecosystem services provides initial insights into the portfolio and the characteristics of the services

  • A survey was carried out in 36 communities in Savannakhét to allow the local requirements for ecosystem services to be better understood and to give local people a chance to be heard in ecosystem service assessments

  • Mapping and evaluation of actors at the interface between human development and conservation efforts in Laos

  • An assessment of transformative conservation activities in Laos to gain an overview of the promising initiatives was made.

Incubators:

  • As 2020 was the first year of the Wyss Academy’s initiatives in Southeast Asia, no incubators could be set up because of the pandemic

  • Initial ideas for potential incubators were discussed with a series of stakeholders and will be developed further in early 2021

Covid-19:

  • Closure of all borders to international travel in March 2020 and national lockdown from March to May 2020. This resulted in the cancellation of the exploratory mission and other meetings originally planned with people from outside Laos



The economic pressure on land resources in Savannakhet is growing. It ranges from huge projects... / Photo: Michael Epprecht, 2020; Pulp processing factory, Savannakhet province

...to large-scale monocultures in crop plantations... / Picture: Land Concession Inventory field team, Lao Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment; Rubber plantation, Champhasack province, 2009

...and poaching. Wild animals that are hunted illegally are often exported. / Michael Epprecht, 2020; Wild products sold on local market, Luang Prabang province