Business Chambers, Government and Development Partners Support Corporate Social Responsibility with the Inaugural Lao CSR Awards

VIENTIANE, LAO PDR—On 16 February 2022, the Office of the Embassy of Canada, AustCham, Civitas,  ECCIL EuroCham, the European Union, LNCCI and the British Business Group in Lao PDR organised the inaugural Lao CSR Awards, with the award ceremony hosted by the British Embassy in Laos.  The Lao CSR Awards recognises companies that uphold the highest standards of responsible business conduct (RBC) in their corporate strategies and daily work, and whose CSR activities can serve as models for the wider Lao business community. 

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an area of discussion worldwide and businesses tend to integrate CSR into their strategic objectives. Sustainability reporting is not yet mandatory in Lao PDR but some companies report voluntarily on their social and environmental performance or even integrate CSR initiatives into their strategies and daily operations.This year’s theme for the Lao CSR Awards was “Environmental Excellence” and the shortlisted candidates reflected a wide range of approaches to incorporating environmental wellbeing into their CSR efforts, across multiple different industries. 

The British Embassy in Laos hosted the inaugural Lao CSR Awards ceremony to recognize companies upholding the highest standards of CSR in their corporate strategies, and implementing CSR activities which serve as models for the wider Lao business community. The winners of Lao PDR’s  first-ever CSR Awards, in two categories, were; the Luang Prabang hotel Angsana Maison Souvannaphoum in the Large Business Category and online travel agent Discover Laos Today in the SME Category. 

Angsana Maison Souvannaphoum is a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Luang Prabang with a business philosophy of “Embracing the Environment, Empowering People’. The hotel believes that sustainability goes beyond protecting the environment to creating a positive impact in the communities. The hotel has a number of CSR initiatives including monthly “Trash Idol” cleanups in the local community, tree planting, a commitment to being plastic free, and an annual sustainability report with specific benchmarks for the following year. 

Discover Laos Today is a licensed tour operator based in Luang Prabang. With more than 10 years’ experience in the tourism sector. The team at Discover Laos Today is made up of travel enthusiasts, avid thrill-seekers, photography hobbyists and specialists of leisure, adventure and discovery. Discover Laos Today has been heavily involved in the protection of Lao’s endangered turtle species through its work in building and funding an insurance colony. There, the turtles are being protected from the wildlife trade and bred to ensure the survival of their species. The turtles are cared for by world-renowned herpetologist Nathanael Maury, who breeds the turtles in specially designed enclosures on the outskirts of Vientiane.

“Businesses can only flourish when the communities and ecosystems in which they operate are healthy. Many companies now undertake environmental sustainability not just as a legal obligation, but as a business opportunity and moral imperative,” said Canada’s Ambassador to Lao PDR, H.E. Sarah Taylor. “Our objective is to work with local businesses, civil society organizations, foreign governments and communities as well as other stakeholders to foster and promote responsible business practices and thus support sustainable economic growth and shared value.”

H.E. Ina Marčiulionytë, EU Ambassador to Laos said “this ceremony made it clear that the responsibility to respect environmental, labor and human rights is shared by businesses, regardless of size or sector. Therefore, this ceremony puts forward the CSR Award winners who represent the role-model of Environmental Excellence in Laos and help inform best practices for the broader business community. All the partners present here today are proud to be associated with this annual event, and committed to support the future CSR Awards in many other themes such as agriculture, mining, hospitality and more. 

Mette Boatman, co-founder of Civitas and of the CSR Awards added thatthe idea behind the Awards is to give more businesses operating in Lao PDR the opportunity to share what good examples of CSR they are doing and give businesses the opportunity to learn from and inspire each other. CSR goes far beyond recycling or donating money to a project. CSR is the true desire to improve the impact a business has on its employees, consumers, community and environment. It’s about a business understanding the communities needs and demonstrating the ability for compassion, accountability and self-regulation. The Lao CSR Awards process has confirmed our assumption – there are indeed a lot of really good CSR initiatives happening in the Lao business community.” 

The Office of the Embassy of Canada in Lao PDR, AustCham, Civitas, EuroCham, the European Union, the British Business Group in Lao PDR, the British Embassy in Laos, and the LNCCI joined efforts to underscore and promote the importance of being responsible when doing business. The awards highlight that it is critical to align CSR practices with Lao PDR’s long-term investment needs, with the aim to support the Government’s COVID-19 recovery, and by attracting quality investment allowing the country to build back better towards a carbon-free future.