News 2013

Lao-German cooperation to launch solar-powered Environmental Education Bus

Sunlabob partners with Lao PDR and German governments to increase environment, climate change and biodiversity education

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Sunlabob Renewable Energy, a Laos-based social enterprise specializing in off-grid renewable energy and clean water access, announced its partnership with Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the German development agency and the Government of Lao PDR to build and deploy an education-focused bus featuring solar power. The bus will be used throughout Lao as a tool to increase knowledge about environmental protection, biodiversity and climate change.

The Lao-German cooperation project Promotion of Climate-related Environmental Education (ProCEEd), will tour the Environmental Education Bus through rural Lao provinces to conduct education and awareness sessions. The bus, featuring 1.45 kW of roof-mounted solar panels, will include a 32” television inside and a 4.3m (diagonal) projection screen on the outside of the bus to be used for displaying educational films and materials during community presentations.

“The Environmental Education Bus will be a key element in building awareness and increasing discussion within the public discourse in Laos about climate change and environmental issues,” said Michael Trockenbrodt, ProCEEd Team Leader. “This traveling tool will provide on-site, localized opportunities for education and outreach to help change the attitudes and behaviors throughout Laos about how to cope with climate change.”

Sunlabob is responsible for the supply, design and installation of the renewable energy and electronics aspects of the bus, while GIZ and the Department of Environmental Quality Promotion (DEQP) at the Lao Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) are leading the development of the education and outreach elements intended to build understanding with the general population, as well as Lao politicians and business leaders. ProCEEd’s work is guided by the National Strategy on Environmental Education and Awareness (NSEEA), which was endorsed by the Government of Lao PDR in 2004, and sets its regional focus in the provinces of Sayaboury, Houaphan and Khammouane where other Lao-German climate-related and biodiversity-related cooperation activities are implemented.

The national economy of Laos is heavily dependent on natural resources such as rain-fed rice cultivation and hydro-power generation and it is widely expected that the country will be greatly impacted by climate change, particularly rural communities that depend on forest ecosystems and smallholder agriculture. An extensive Knowledge-Attitude-Practice Study regarding the environment, biodiversity and climate change, undertaken by ProCEEd reveals the limited understanding within much of the Lao population about the links between sustainable development, environmental protection and climate change.

“Implementation of sustainable technologies such as renewable energy and water purification is only one part of the sustainable development picture,” said Andy Schroeter, co-founder and CEO of Sunlabob, which has provided off-grid renewable energy and clean water access to more than 600,000 rural beneficiaries in Laos, Asia, Africa and India for more than a decade. “Addressing environmental issues such as climate change through national education programs like ProCEEd is also a necessary piece to the puzzle.”

The bus is currently being outfitted with the solar technologies and audio and video equipment while the education curriculum and outreach program is still under development. Completion of the construction and installation is slated for the spring of 2013 with the education tour beginning soon thereafter.

For more information about GIZ and ProCEEd, please visit: www.giz.de