People Protecting Their Ecosystem in the Lower Mekong (PEM II)

a tractor crossing river

Mekong River and the people's life
Photo by: Savann Oeurm


“People Protecting Their Ecosystem in the Lower Mekong” (PEM) is a 10-year collaborative programme that brings together efforts from development and conservation groups to reduce threats to biodiversity and livelihoods posed by large-scale development projects in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam.

In Laos, People Protecting Their Ecosystem in the Lower Mekong (PEM II) ultimately wants to see communities exercise their rights to the sustainable use of ecosystems to secure their livelihoods and protect biodiversity. Given that decisions on how resources are shared, developed and managed occur at multiple levels – community, national and regional – PEM seeks to bring about change at different levels. To do this, PEM rests on three linked interventions:

  • Empowering communities through a rights-based approach to CBNRM and sustainable livelihoods.

  • Convening and brokering strategic alliances to strengthen networks at multiple levels, including cross-boundary level for villages involved in CBNRM, to ensure meaningful contributions to the protection of key biodiversity areas (KBAs) and priority riverine corridors; and for different conservation and development NGOs supporting CBNRM initiatives and networks for policy advocacy.

  • Creating an enabling environment for civil society organisations to engage in policy development and dialogues that promote environmental and social considerations in the planning, development and operation of large-scale projects.

  • Cross-cutting: promoting participation and leadership amongst women and young people at CBNRM initiatives and networks, and policy dialogues.

Project period

June 2016 to Dec 2018

Target Outcomes

1: Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) is an effective means of sustainably managing and protecting ecosystems.

2: Access to the information, skills and knowledge of communities and civil society will lead to more effective participation and a better capacity to influence government and the private sector.

3: engagement and participation in community development and conservation will foster inter-generational stewardship which is a key ingredient for long-term sustainability.

4: There is a need to create an environment which is free from social and cultural barriers to encourage young people, especially young women and indigenous youths, to voice their concerns and influence the decisions that affect them and their communities.

5: Promoting women’s participation and leadership will lead to better conservation outcomes, as women are active advocates for sustainable resource management.

6: By creating space for communities and civil society to participate in and influence planning and decision-making, the initiatives will contribute to increased consideration of environmental and social impacts, and greater respect for the rights and livelihoods of project-affected communities.

PEM’s long-term outcomes

  • Governments, developers and financiers increasingly consider biodiversity integrity and social impacts, and respect the rights and livelihoods of project-affected communities.

  • Communities exercise their rights to sustainable livelihoods and respond effectively to threats.

Project main activities

  • Empowering

  • Strengthen networks at multiple levels

  • Enabling environment

Project partners

In Laos, Oxfam works in partnership with:

Contributing donors

The regional project is jointly funded by the MacArthur Foundation, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation (MACF) and Oxfam.