PhD Fellowship on climate change, community vulnerability and exposure to dengue fever in SE-Asia at Asian Institute of Technology (AIT)

PhD Fellowship on climate change, community vulnerability and exposure to dengue fever in South East Asia at Asian Institute of Technology (AIT)

Click Here for more information

The doctoral research fellow will be integrated within the DENCLIM project and attached to one of the Department’s scientific group and will have Associate Professor, Dr Oleg Shipin as the main supervisor. The Department’s Ph.D. program consists of a major research component of high quality aimed for publication in popular scientific journals such as PNAS, Lancet, BMJ as well as mandatory and elective courses with oral and written examinations. The student is expected to participate actively in the academic activities of the scientific group. There will be extensive periods of field- and laboratory work at collaborating institutes in Thailand and Laos. The candidate will work closely with another DENCLIM PhD fellow (on climate change modelling) based at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, as well as with project partners at Khon Kaen University in Northeastern Thailand, University of Health Sciences in Vientiane, Laos, and provincial governmental health offices.

Academic qualifications Required skills:

  • A successful applicant must hold a well-documented research-based Master’s degree in one of the following fields of knowledge: Hydrology/ Water resources engineering/ Climatology/ Computer Engineering and have a strong interest in Entomology/epidemiology/public health.

Desired skills:

  • High-quality research leading to publications in reputable scientific journals. • Data analysis using R, Python, Hec-GeoRAS
  • Flood, drought modelling
  • Strong knowledge in Geographic Information System/ Remote Sensing, and Statistics
  • Strong analytical skills and ability to work with large and complex datasets, developing new methods
  • Enjoy extensive fieldwork in rural and urban Thailand and Laos
  • Eager to invest in an exciting research project within an international network, and to pursue a science-based career at the interface of academia
  • Ambition to develop new methods in the field of study, research, and innovation.
  • International collaboration and experience.
  • Proficiency in English as a working language is a prerequisite and should be well-documented; knowledge of Thai and/or Lao languages is an additional asset.
  • Research and/or working experience in developing countries will be considered an additional qualification.

Personal skills

  • Ability to work and collaborate in a multidisciplinary research field.
  • Ability to create a welcoming and productive working environment for colleagues and field staff.

Evaluation criteria:

  • The main criteria for evaluating the applicants include academic records and the scientific capacity and achievements in the above-outlined preferences; particularly, originality, independence, and productivity in terms of peer-reviewed publications as well as ability to work in a team.
  • This post is open to everyone but priority will be given to the citizens of Thailand and Laos.
  • The shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview as a part of the evaluation.

Employment conditions:

The selected candidate will be enrolled as a doctoral student in AIT starting from August 2018 Semester in order to complete the PhD dissertation before May 2021.

Click Here for more information or contact Dr Oleg Shipin (oshipin@ait.asia, olegshipin@gmail.com).

Application The application should be submitted to oshipin@ait.asia or olegshipin@gmail.com by 20th March 2018.

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SDG Move Representative Attending High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2017 (HLPF) in New York City

SDG Move Leader, Mr Chol Bunnag, is attending the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2017 (HLPF) in New York City, the United States, on 10 to 19 July 2017, on behalf of the Thailand Research Fund (TRF).

Mr Chol will be presenting the progress of the academic sector on being the driving force in advancing SDGs in Thailand as a part of the Voluntary National Report (VNR), together with the representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Additionally, he will be supporting the Thai Civil Society Organization (CSO) with their presentation of the Independence Report.

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The theme will be “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world“. The set of goals to be reviewed in depth will be Goal 1, Goal 2, Goal 3, Goal 5, Goal 9, and Goal 13, with the addition of Goal 17. More information regarding the Forum can be found here or through this video:

 

 

Forum for the intermediate presentation of the “Status Survey for 12 SDGs in Thailand and the Elements that Can Support the Country in Achieving SDGs”

From January 2017, the Thailand Research Fund (TRF), through the Research Coordination for SDGs (SDG Move), has granted research funding for 12 projects, with the bifocal objectives of exploring the status of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16, in the context of Thailand, and analysing economic, social, and legal potentials that can assist the country in achieving SDGs. After four months, TRF arranged a forum that allows researchers of these projects to present their intermediate findings. This forum was intended to be a collaborative platform to encourage meaningful interactions between researchers and experts from various disciplines, especially in the forms of feedbacks and additional information, which can be used to improve the quality of the final reports.

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On 1st May 2017, Thailand Research Fund in collaboration with SDG Move organise a forum for the intermediate presentation of the “Status Survey for 12 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Thailand and the Elements that Can Support the Country in Achieving SDGs.

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The forum was very successful, judging from the number of participants and the amount of discussions throughout the day. Additionally, we would like to thank students from Thammasat University of their amazing supports.

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We will update the outcomes of the forum accordingly.

Climate change does not cause disasters, it’s more complicated than that

Dr. Nuttavikhom Phanthuwongpakdee | SDG Move

One of the stiffest challenges of our time is that of convincing the masses of people that it is a fact that humankind is the leading causes of climate change. However, one of the equally-pressing challenges is that of promoting the public recognition that climate change is not the reason for all of the damage from environmental disasters. For years, the majority of the people have all too often been too quick to point the accusing finger at climate change during these latest years, for the damage and the destruction caused by calamities. There is no exception for the many events in 2017; several hurricanes hitting the southern region of the United States and the Caribbean, Typhoon Hato that hit Hong Kong, Macau and parts of China, as well as the mega-earthquake off the Pacific coast of Mexico. Climate change may have worsened certain environmental disasters, especially the climate-related ones, like hurricane, typhoon, flooding and drought. However, it is vital to realise that climate change does not cause disasters to transpire as it is not a causal agent. “Climate change” is barely a descriptive term that describes the fact that climate is changing.

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If you are one of those that have been talking about climate change being the sole/root cause of all of the damage and the destruction unleashed during and after every disaster, then, indeed, sad to say, you are guilty of missing out on issues being far more direct and immediate. Suffering harm from environmental disasters is equally as much about the way we live and not just the strength or the frequency of the storms that come. Look at the history of Hurricane Katrina (Mulcahy, 2006) or the 2011 Thailand Mega-Flood (Phanthuwongpakdee, 2016) whereby the poor suffered far more because of where they lived and the types of dwellings that they lived. We make social and economic choices about where to build in the face of risk.

Let’s compare the exposure to disaster between Texas and Florida. It is an extra-important point to note that the State of Texas is far-less exposed than that of Florida, in terms of natural terrain. However, Texas, historically, has been suffering far more damage from disasters like flooding than Florida does, despite Florida having far more “flood hazard” areas and hurricane exposure. What, all along, has been the reason for the difference? Texas, as a state, has far-inferior governance about zoning to control development in high-risk areas. Whereas, Florida’s laws are stricter about building in high-risk areas. Hence, Florida’s, which has larger hazard areas and triple the population density (with similar per capita incomes), suffer fewer losses due to this kind of regulation. Texas, which has less of environmental-hazard exposure, still falls prey to the suffering of more loss, solely due to the poorer regulation of building and land-zoning.

To further illustrate my argument, another comparison can be drawn between the State of Florida and the northern coast of Australia. Both places face a similar risk of hurricanes in any given year (Mustafa, 2009). Still, the potential devastation experienced in Florida is greater since the density of development along the coast is much higher in Florida than in northern Australia. In this manner, the coastal areas of Florida are more exposed to disaster than the northern coast of Australia.

In both comparisons, an entire series of interacting players bringing about differing vulnerability; for instance, property developers that just want to sell, residents who want long-term homes, business owners and, indeed, politicians that do not care about the externalities of coastal and riverine developments. My point is that we should take our concerns out of the higher and ‘more abstract’, or even divinity levels, and discuss more the nature and the underlying causes of our local vulnerabilities. Discussions like this on a more local level are far more efficient to help communities deal with climate change adaptation, and they address the local economics and politics that may be pushing us towards greater vulnerability, regardless of the disasters’ strength or frequency.

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Reference:

Mulcahy, M. (2006, June 11). Hurricanes, Poverty, and Vulnerability: A Historical Perspective. Retrieved September 12, 2017, from http://understandingkatrina.ssrc.org/Mulcahy/

Mustafa, D. (2009). Natural Hazards. In A Companion to Environmental Geography. Hoboken, NJ, USA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Phanthuwongpakdee, N. (2016). Living with Floods: Moving Towards Resilient Local-Level Adaptation in Central Thailand (PhD’s thesis, King’s College London & National University of Singapore, 2016). Singapore: National University of Singapore.

 

 

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): The Current World Trend

By Dr. Nuttavikhom Phanthuwongpakdee | SDG Move

A series of unfortunate global events of 2016 exemplify how unpredicted shocks can transpire when societal challenges are left unattended. In the absence of steady, inclusive and long-term development progress, societies can renounce foundational norms. Certainly, following waves of political tsunamis, people from different segments of the society are struggling to attain logical references to guide essential decision-making. Agreeing with Bjørn K Haugland, the Chief Sustainability Officer CSO of DNV GL Group, “No-one would blame you for feeling that the world is pretty risky right now” (Haugland, 2017).

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Amid the uncertain global political climate that we are experiencing, the world already has the reference point. On September 2015, at the United Nations (UN) headquarter, world leaders agreed on a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that would support them in tackling mutual social, economic, environmental, and, to a small extent, political challenges. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), officially known as Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a set of 17 Global Goals with the total of 169 targets between them. Given the flexibility of each goal, each country can customise these goals and many targets in a manner that best suited its own situation to meet the ultimate aim of SDGs, to end extreme poverty, build prosperity for everyone and safeguard our environmental resources for the future, by 2030.

Many countries have been integrating SDGs into their policies and practices. To monitor progress, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development encourages member states to “conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels, which are country-led and country-driven” (paragraph 79). One of important review is the voluntary national reviews (VNRs), which aim to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, obstacles and lessons learned, with a view to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The VNRs also seek to strengthen policies and institutions of governments and to mobilise multi-stakeholder support and partnerships for the implementation of the SDGs. Twenty-two countries participated in the first round of VNRs, held during the 2016 meeting of High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) (Division for Sustainable Development Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2016). Highlights from each participated country are as followed:

China: Sets 5-year plan to reduce poverty, increase minimum wages, decrease unemployment, create more housing, and moderate greenhouse gases. Furthermore, China is committed to working with other developing countries, especially those in Africa.

Colombia: The country initiates SDGs even before it commenced in September 2015. It sees SDGs as long-term regulatory process and allows the private sectors to invest in various SDGs-related services. SDGs are included in the national development plan, with clear financial outlines and mechanisms to engage with different actors. Some local governments have already employed SDGs in their development goals. The country also has done a substantial amount of studies to connect different goals.

Egypt: Outlines a series of challenges that need to be addressed to achieve the SDGs. These include high birth rate, water scarcity, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, energy needs, barriers impeding women and girls from realising their potential for social and economic progress, and instability in neighbouring states.

Estonia: Emphasises on technology and ICT to achieve SDGs. This is done through the creation of Big Data and the use of social media to create public awareness.

Finland: Utilises 39 existing indicators to monitor the progress of SDGs. Together with CSO, it realises that the country’s official development assistance (ODA) is too small and the country to work harder on this issue. Furthermore, every government department creates work plans with SDGs and conducted Gap Analysis and found that to achieve SDGs, Finland should concentrate more on education, peace and justice.

France: Concentrates on linking SDGs to Paris Agreement

Georgia: Established a technical working group including experts from different ministries and from the National Statistics Office (NSO) to discuss the process of “nationalisation” of the SDGs.

Germany: Stresses the need for monitoring and review, and for strengthening capacities on revenues. The country has increased the capacity of the tax administration in the country and suggested that international financial institutions could play a bigger role in enabling partner countries to control what is needed to implement the 2030 Agenda.

Madagascar: Assess how the SDGs are reflected in the country’s national development plan, discuss SDG indicators and monitoring and evaluation, and present a roadmap for SDG implementation.

México: Develops a software to track the progress of SDGs. With the aim of enabling collaboration between, and contribution from, various sectors, the software is open to the public and allow the private sector to invest.

Montenegro: Hold a national meeting to discuss the needs of different sectors within the country in achieving to SDGs.

Morocco: UN organisations, namely UNDP and UNDESA, collaborates with various Moroccan stakeholders to brainstorms various SDGs projects. Also, ensuring that SDGs indicators are presented in a simplified manner to facilitate their understanding by citizens and the media.

Norway: Increases official development assistance for education, with a particular focus on girls’ education, supports climate financing for vulnerable nations, and including the SDGs as part of school curriculum.

The Philippines: The CSO sector is very active. Many of them already used SDGs to guide their works and collaboration with the government. The country has a clear financial plan for SDGs and regularly coordinate with the UN for financial and academic assistances.

South Korea: Initiates the Science, Technology and Innovation for Better Life Initiative to help developing states on Goals 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 19 and 17. At the same time, encourages education institutions to include the SDGs in textbooks for primary and secondary school students, and carries out nationwide campaigns on implementing the SDGs.

Samoa: Conducted a preliminary integrated assessment of the Strategy for the Development of Samoa (SDS 2012-2016), as part of its Mid-Term Review, to provides an indicative overview of the level of alignment between it and the SDG targets.

Sierra Leone: Creates simplified SDGs to educate the public about SDGs

Switzerland: Commits to sustainable development through its foreign policy, including its foreign economic policy, international cooperation, and sectoral foreign policies. With its engagement in international processes geared towards multilateral conventions, bilateral agreements, as well as regional and global programmes, Switzerland contributes to the advancement of sustainable development in its foreign policy.

Togo: Launches a process to develop its national development plan (2018-2022), which will replace the national strategy for accelerated growth and the promotion of employment (2013-2017), and will integrate the SDGs.

Turkey: In 2015, Turkey provided official development assistance (ODA) of 3.9 thousand million US dollars or 0.54% of its GNI. In the next 5 years, Turkey is committed to providing 1.5 thousand million US dollars to least developed countries (LDCs).

Uganda: Increased women in the government sector to at least 30%

Venezuela: Disaggregates relevant data and visualise information about the most vulnerable under the principle “leave no one behind,” and support for the participation of civil society, the private sector, and academia to ensure both a “bottom-up” and “top-down” approach to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

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In 2017, the theme of the HLPF will be “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”, and the event will be held on 10th to 19th July 2017. The set of goals to be reviewed in depth will be Goals 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14, and 17.

 

The obstacles and dilemmas in adopting SDGs

While SDGs were agreed by world leaders, the Goals represent a bold and ambitious global plan, with as many as 169 targets. Achieving this plan is not an easy matter. On the contrary, it is a highly complicated process, requiring a lot of high-quality research, active collaboration between various stakeholders and efficient policy implementations by the government of each country. With their internal development dilemmas, many countries, such as Brazil, Thailand and Serbia, that are neither of highly-developed nor in a vulnerable position to receive assistance can find it extra-difficult to achieve SDGs. The interdependent nature of the 17 Goals and 169 targets also mean that different issues can tie together. For example, to build climate-resilient cities and to promote sustainable urbanisation ones also need to look at issues like urban poverty, climate vulnerability, clean potable water and sustainable consumption.

Regardless, in July 2016, the UN published its first Sustainable Development Goals report, detailing the progress of SDGs six months after it had commenced. Unfortunately, the findings indicate that 18% of the world population still lives in poverty, 800 million people are suffering from hunger, and 2.4 billion people live without improved sanitation (United Nations, 2016). Additionally, a recent study published in December 2016 by the Brookings Institute found that up to 80% of the world’s countries, including highly-developed countries like Canada, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates, are off track on at least one among four targets for child mortality, maternal mortality, access to water and access to sanitation (McArthur & Rasmussen, 2016). Thirty-seven countries, such as Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Somalia, are astray from all four (McArthur & Rasmussen, 2016).

Simultaneously, nearly all countries continue to be burdened with challenges while tackling problems like unemployment, education among girls, mental health, and sustainable cities. Trends in many socio-economic and environmental issues are not heading in the progressive direction. For instance, in the global scale inequality of incomes has spiked to record high (The Institute for Policy Studies, n.d.), atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide continued to be high (Statista, 2016), rate of deforestation continues to increase (Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, 2017), and more than half of the global fisheries have been pushed beyond their limits (World Wildlife Fund, 2017). Within the Southeast Asia region, many countries have seen strong economic progressions; however, the region is struggling to transform this growth into decent job opportunities for the poor. In term of resilient to climate change and disaster adaptation, most resources continue to be invested in strengthening capacities for the physical aspects of disaster management. There has been limited success in applying policies, norms and regulations to manage and reduce risk and vulnerability. It is true that the world has progressed for the better since the start of the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs), SDGs predecessor, as roughly a billion of people escaped poverty cycle, almost 4 million fewer children die annually and better treatment for HIV and AIDS (United Nations, 2014). The present global situation is still unsatisfactory.

SDGs require countries to measure over 230 formidable indicators, a considerable challenge given that many countries are yet to collect several simple data. The world experience from the MDGs underscores the importance of thinking through the indicators as soon as possible. Collecting useful data and using them as indicators are vital for the monitoring of the progress towards achieving SDGs. However, there are concerns by many research institutes and think tanks is the fact that accurate data is missing (McArthur & Rasmussen, 2016).

For instance, collecting potentially-sensitive data, such as those on religion, ethnicity, disability, levels of education, and sexual orientation, as indicators for SDGs is challenging (Bradford Smith & Haslam, 2017). Currently, many countries, including Thailand and Sudan, are grappling with this problem. This difficulty has much to do with existing social and cultural norms. Additionally, problems regarding the reliability of statistics can arise when a significant sample size is not collected. The comparison of data between/among countries, or even different regions within a country experiencing dissimilar development stages, is undoubtedly complicated, requiring the necessary capacity to gather good-quality data. Methodology, such as collection procedure and criteria, which is used while gathering data, must be well-thought-out to minimise potential errors and biases. Over and above the risk that collected data can become too reductive, different organisations can produce repetitive data for overlapping or interrelated SDGs goals and/or targets, a process which is a wasteful use of financial resources, or worse, the obtained data for different goals and/or targets can even be contradictory.

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Discussing the risk of reductive, error and biased data also take us to another SDGs issue; the fact that many researchers and related stakeholders do not display the conviction of collaboration for a higher purpose. According to Obino (2016), collaborative research could force SDGs implementation, but there is a lack of cooperation among researchers. As the international academic market is getting more competitive, many researchers are concentrating on the works that will advance their academic careers (Obino, 2016). Incentives must be created to encourage researchers to work together to address questions of urgent societal impact. Given the significance of the SDGs, supporting new formats for collaborative research in the next 15 years will be substantial (Obino, 2016).

Driving SDGs forward on the Global Stage

Against the grim reality, there is a silver lining. We believe contributions from different actors and stakeholders from different sectors are equally crucial and they must act hand in hand to achieve SDGs. Policy-makers and policy-regulators continue to be important actors (Biermann, 2014). Certainly, they must blaze a trail by crafting the sound policy and institutional agenda in which others can act. They must guarantee incentives whereby economic progress is tied to driving solutions to socio-economic and environmental complications. In unison, they must ensure that benefits are distributed in an unbiased manner, without hindering the enthusiasms for innovation (Biermann, 2014).  Political parties must work to mainstream sustainable development within national discourse.

Private firms and companies will need to provide core products and services for the SDGs while constantly upgrading themselves for the better and share certain information with the public. For instance, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) estimated in its report that up to 80% of Southeast Asians, in the study, are more likely to purchase products and services from companies that are committed to achieving SDGs (PwC, 2015). Up to 97% of businesses surveyed plan to address SDGs within the next five years (PwC, 2015). Undeniably, the SDGs come with complexities but also substantial advantages for businesses, big or small. Adopting the SDGs will support numerous business owners, managers, CEOs and other relevant stakeholders in formulating long-term visions for their organisations, advancing the resilience of their business models and expanding opportunities to support national, regional, and international objectives. In the same report, PwC also listed the top three activities, regarding SDGs, are companies are likely to take. They are 1) identify and recognise the Goals that are most relevant to the business, 2) set goals aligned with the related SDGs, and 3) create a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or SDGs-related team(s) (PwC, 2015).

Researchers, scientists and engineers will hold the important role of generating crucial knowledge and technological advances to support SDGs. To make an impact on achieving SDGs, researchers must venture out of their institutions and take stands on scientific matters. If one voice is not enough researchers can make a good use of existing academic federations and societies, in all levels, to gain more strength. In Asia, the examples of such organisations are Federation of Asian Scientific Academies and Societies, and the Association of Academies of Sciences (Maslog, 2017). However, researchers should not wait for governments to seek their insight and advice. They must be hands-on and speak out more persuasively on various concerns such as environmental pollution, climate change and threat of epidemic diseases (Maslog, 2017). Positively, achieving SDGs should be viewed as a unique opportunity for science to influence policy and a platform for scientists and researchers to collaborate for the betterment of the world.

Furthermore, banks and capital markets will have a significant responsibility in sponsoring investments that contribute to the SDGs. While civil society organisations (CSOs), Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and media will need to keep innovating to ensure that the public is involved, updated and informed in a way that holds powerful interests liable.

Another important emerging actor that is not mentioned very often is young people. Unquestionably, young people are active drivers of change in many local communities, especially through engaging people at the grassroots level and communicating the goals with a wider audience through tools like social media (Bojanić, 2016). As a lot of young people today uses social media on a regular basis, they can utilise this powerful instrument to spread the words regarding SDGs. Through social media, most people in the world will have the chance to learn more about their rights under SDGs. Indubitably, people cannot fight for their rights and for a more sustainable development world, if they do not know about them.

With right political commitment, adequate fund allocation, meaningful collaboration, and creative mind, people from different stakeholders can fulfil their roles; and that way make the most efficient transformation of the world into a better place for all.

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Reference

Bojanić, D. (2016, February 15). The Role of Youth in the Implementation of the SDGs.     Retrieved February 12, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-youth-assembly-at-the-united-nations/the-role-of-youth-in-the_b_9237714.html.

Biermann, F., Stevens, C., Bernstein, S., Gupta, A., Kabiri, N., Kanie, N., Levy, M., Nilsson,    M., Pintér, L., Scobie, M., &Young, O. R. (2014). Integrating Governance into the         Sustainable Development Goals: POST2015/UNUIAS Policy Brief #3 (Policy Brief).   Tokyo, Japan: United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability.

Bradford Smith, K., & Haslam, D. (2017, January 26). Want accurate data on people with   disabilities? Ask them. The Guardian. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from       https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/jan/26/want-accurate-data-on-people-with-disabilities-ask-them.

Division for Sustainable Development Department of Economic and Social Affairs.           (2016). Synthesis of Voluntary National Reviews 2016 (Rep.). New York City, NY: United Nations.

Maslog, C. (2017, January 25). Asia’s top scientists need to be vocal on crucial issues. SciDev.Net. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from http://www.scidev.net/asia-pacific/cooperation/analysis-blog/asia-top-scientists-vocal-crucial-issues.html.

McArthur, J., & Rasmussen, K. (2016, December 2). How close is the world to ending extreme poverty? Brookings Institution. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2016/12/02/how-close-is-the-      world-to-ending-extreme-poverty/.

Haugland, B. K. (2017, January 1). Open innovation converts risks to opportunity. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bjarn-kjarand-     haugland/open-innovation-converts_b_14491448.html?utm_hp_ref=sustainable-            development-goals.

Obino, F. (2016, October 21). Researchers need to collaborate more. SciDev.Net. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from http://www.scidev.net/asia-pacific/cooperation/opinion/researchers-collaborate-development%20-sdgs.html.

PwC. (2015). SDGs Paving the Way Towards Market Leadership (Newsletter). Bangkok: PwC.

Statista. (2016). The largest producers of CO2 emissions worldwide in 2016, based on their share of global CO2 emissions [Chart]. In Statista. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/271748/the-largest-emitters-of-co2-in-the-world/.

The Institute for Policy Studies. (n.d.). Global Inequality. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from http://inequality.org/global-inequality/.

Tropical Forest Alliance 2020. (2017). The Role of the Financial Sector in Deforestationfree Supply Chains (Rep.). Cologny, Switzerland: World Economic Forum.

United Nations. (2014). United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/mdgmomentum.shtml

United Nations. (2016). The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2016 (Rep.). New York City, NY: United Nations.

World Wildlife Fund. (2017). Overfishing. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from http://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/overfishing

Monitoring Sustainable Development: the State-Private Sector-People Nexus

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By: Witoon Lianchamroon, Faikham Harnnarong, Pakorn Lertsatienchai, Kingkaew Buaphet, Narumon Arunotai, Ranee Hassarungsee and Pattraporn Chuenglertsiri.
Social Watch, Thailand

In accordance with its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Thailand has issued the Rule of the Office of the Prime Minister on the Committee on Sustainable Development. The rule indicates 1) balanced and integrated policies and strategies on the country’s sustainable development which include economic, social and environmental aspects in the long term; 2) the support and promotion of the work of public and private sectors on sustainable development; and 3) the direction of public administration in accordance with policies and strategies to implement sustainable development.

The Committee consists of the Prime Minister, under the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), as head of the Committee; the Federation of Thai Industries, Thai Chamber of Commerce and four research institutes from the private sector; and civil society working groups on 1) the integration of working and prioritizing issues on SDGs; 2) drafting report on monitoring SDGs; and 3) Improvement of economic, social and legal mechanisms to support the SDGs. A representative of Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS) commented that despite the three working groups, the public sector and civil society still played a minor role and suggested that an alternative Public-Private-People Partnership (PPPP) should be considered in these processes.

As Preeyanut Thampiya, committee member of Thailand Sustainable Development Foundation commented: “Although the Thai government has adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as its national agenda, in reality, sustainable development is hardly implemented in Thailand.  Every sector must realize the importance of sustainable development and it must be ingrained in the inner consciousness, not from enforcing rules.”

Thon Thamrongnawasawat, Vice Dean, Faculty of Fisheries, Kasetsart University, went further:

Thailand has sustainable development and destructible development. The main idea of development, rather than being included in the nation’s plan or constitution, must be in the heart of all people. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not enough to achieve sustainability. Such development is only for show. Thailand is in the top five countries that are facing the most severe level of marine debris, which is considered the most urgent environmental issue this year. Thailand produces plastic waste only less that China and Indonesia. But if we calculate the ratio of the amount of waste per capita, Thailand is producing the most waste in the world. Therefore, when we talk about sustainable development, there is always destructible development attached.

In the meantime, civil society organizations are playing a crucial role in propelling sustainable development, by elevating and improving their practices in order to establish a concrete approach to link with the SDGs, under the circumstances of social economic and political changes in Thailand, as illustrated in the examples below.

Civil-State (Pracha-Rath) policy in the agricultural sector

The Civil-State policy was initiated by the junta that has ruled Thailand since 2014, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). The aim of this policy is to promote the role of the private sector in investment and innovation development, to establish cooperation between the private sector and community enterprises and to develop a new agricultural scheme. The main actors of this policy are: Somkid Jatusripjitak, Deputy Prime Minister, and Issara Wongkusolkij, Chairman of Mitr Phol Group and former Chairman of Thai Chamber of Commerce, as representatives from the private sector. The government claims that Civil-State is in accordance with the SDGs. The policy consists of three levels; 1) Policy-making, of which the cabinet is in charge; 2) Implementation, for which six working groups from ministries and committees are responsible, with Deputy Prime Ministers as heads of each group; and 3) Operation, which comprises state, private sector and people or civil society, and consists of 12 working committees. Ministers act as head of each group, together with heads from private sector.1

The direction of the Civil-State policy is steered by big companies, together with a ‘bureaucratic’ mechanism. Few representatives from civil society organizations join as most civil society organizations ignore and criticize this policy. They disagree with the weak enforcement of city planning laws and the lack of environmental impact assessments in the special economic development zone.

Agricultural policies for the private sector, the perils of small farmers

The Civil-State policy on the agricultural sector stirs waves of criticism when the memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) and private companies who profit from chemical fertilizer, pesticide and seed business was issued. On the surface, this MOU seems to help farmers because it involves price reductions on these materials. However, the real intention is to boost the sales of these chemical agricultural materials. The lower price is actually caused by the low market price of agricultural produce and the current drought. The Civil-State policy on the agricultural sector is irrelevant to sustainable agricultural development because excessive usage of pesticides has always been a major problem for Thai farmers. The attempt to boost the sales of means of production has nothing to do with maximizing output or with sustainable development.

Declines in prices of agricultural products, especially maize, tapioca and rice (including broken-milled rice), is a result of government’s support of animal food industries and big agribusiness companies. The government also supports companies that sell chemical agricultural materials such as fertilizers, pesticides and seeds, instead of limiting the use of these materials.

The Ministry of Agriculture signed the MOU with agricultural industries to “promote the use of quality chemical fertilizers, seed and pesticides”. Recently there were more than 1 million farmer families who were hard hit by this MOU. Maize price sharply dropped due to the import of maize from neighbouring countries, without limiting the amount and time frame. Moreover, millions of tonnes of wheat are imported for animal food industries, without import tax, although the tax for importing raw material is actually 27 percent. This practice does not only affect the price of maize and tapioca but also the price of broken-milled rice (used for animal food production) and partly causes the drop in the rice price.

After the rice price decline, instead of promoting mixed-method agriculture which farmers can rely on themselves, promoting organic farming, or introducing schemes to reduce means of production, the government signed the MOU with private companies, resulting in encroaching on rice farming areas. They also promote maize and sugar cane crops for animal food products. This is to give benefits to conglomerates who are part of the Civil-State policy. Small farmers are entitled to pay a 7 percent interest rate for their agricultural loans but companies are entitled to pay only 0.01-4 percent. The fall of small farmers is not only caused by low produce prices but also government’s policies that favour agricultural conglomerates. Companies who are part of Civil-State make their profits from sugar production, sugar cane monocultural farming, animal food, maize monocultural farming, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, for example. Therefore, it is not surprising that government promotes ‘large-scale farming’ instead of organic or mixed-method farming. MOAC soon will propose reducing the interest rate for large-scale farming to only 0.01 percent, while organic and other small farmers still have to pay 5-7 percent.

The claim that Civil-State will lead to the development of sustainable agriculture, community enterprises, reduced inequality and strong local community, among other things, is just a sugar coating for a policy that helps a group of agricultural monopolies. The push for GMO crops led to so much opposition from various groups of people, that the project was cancelled. The attempt to amend the law on plant variety protection 1999, aimed to serve seed companies and establish Thailand’s legitimacy to join the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), now abandoned by the US and currently being renegotiated by the other participating countries.

The establishment of a so-called enterprise, Pracharat Rak Samaggi Co. Ltd., was led by ThaiBev, CP and Mitr Phol, the country’s largest industrial food conglomerates. However, this company does not bring about equality, if the government does not enforce laws and regulations to limit land grabbing by these giant agribusinesses, prevent monopolization of agricultural production and centralization of product distribution centres in wholesale and retail businesses.

The signing of MOU between MOAC and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives (BAAC), along with the Thai and international animal food industry and seed company group (CP, Monsanto, Syngenta, Pacific Seeds) on 21 October 2016 is intended to transform 80,000 acres of rice farming area into maize cropping area.

Seed companies profit tremendously from the sale of maize (6-7 million kg/year), earning around 1 billion baht. They can transform a rice farming area into a maize cropping area. Biothai, an NGO that monitors agri-industry policy, found that Monsanto and CP will immensely benefit from the MOU because they have the majority of market share of the seed business. CP has an advantage over other companies due to its seed sales through BAAC’s mechanism called Thai Agricultural Business Co. Ltd (TABCO), which acts as middle man in buying raw agricultural materials. It also runs the Agricultural Cooperative for Marketing of BAAC clients, in 60 centres nationwide.

Farmers who participate in the rice farming area reduction scheme, although they are entitled to low-interest loans to plant maize crops, are tied to certain seeds and means of production. CP gains the most profit under this scheme since it has a long-time connection with BAAC. Moreover, previous governments have for long appointed CP representatives as BAAC’s managerial committee members. It is not surprising why 70 percent of seeds sold through BAAC’s mechanism are from CP.

Therefore, agricultural reform must abolish a policy structure that serves to benefit giant agribusiness and agrochemicals, and at the same time, create alternatives for sustainable agriculture for small farmers.

Situation of double oppression against indigenous women2

Since 2016, the government has pursued a policy to allocate land to poor villagers along the Thai-Myanmar border for national security reasons. The government recently reported that 2,589 pieces of land (about 57% of targeted land) were allocated to 1,873 households along the border for dwelling and farming. Some pieces of public land that had been occupied by people were also managed for poverty eradication and community development activity. However, the government policy introduced in 2014 to restore national forest from 10 percent to 40 percent has dramatically affected the livelihoods of over 450,000 people living in the national forest areas who are mostly indigenous people.

The Indigenous Women’s Network of Thailand (IWNT) shared that many heads of household have been arrested by the authorities and charges brought against them although they have been living in these forest lands for over 80 years. The whole family is not allowed to live or do any farming in such lands. Some households’ crops were destroyed by the authorities despite the order of the National Council for Peace and Order NO.66/2557 not to harm affected poor villagers or those who are landless and have lived there before the NCPO’s order. No land means no food, no income and no future. Many become debtors.  More and more women have migrated to cities or abroad to look for jobs. Although some of them do not have identity cards and have no means to earn an income, they inevitably migrate to the cities for the future of their families. Indigenous women and young girls are targeted by recruiters to prostitution and forced labour in Malaysia, Singapore and Japan. Moreover, many of those who remain in the agro-industry sector have to rely on contract farming where they have to comply with certain conditions which forced them to use factory seeds, insecticides and chemicals which threaten efforts to preserve the genetic diversity of seeds. Although men are the one who mostly use insecticides, they have some kinds of protection, while women also work in the farm and collect the crops without any kind of protection.

In addition, there are still many cases of domestic violence against women. Although there has been some progress, as the Department of Women’s Affairs and Family Development has recently started to develop the National Plan to End Violence against Women which include all forms of violence and there are many protection mechanisms and measures now in place, ethnic Hmong, Lisu and Pakeryor women said that indigenous communities are still excluded from these services and do not get access to legal assistance and protection. They do not want to report cases of violence to the police because they are afraid of revenge from the perpetrators and also because of lack of knowledge of their rights to claim.

The leader of Tai Yai women reported that affected women in indigenous communities will not go to government shelters due to their limited security. According to the Network of Hmong Women, women in their communities still suffer from domestic violence. In the five months since the opening of their hotline service, there were 10 cases of Hmong women who sought to commit suicide by drinking pesticide, three of whom succeeded.  This reflects the fact that there are no forms of support or appropriate services to women affected by gender-based violence. Furthermore, in the past decade, there has been higher proportion of women inmates charged with drug use. A member of the Women’s Development Network from Chiangrai province reported that almost 90 percent of 919 female inmates were charged with drug use, a quarter of whom are indigenous women. In Terng district, 60 of the 103 female inmates charged with drug use are indigenous women.

It is important to note that although data and information presented are mainly on indigenous women, other women in remote areas throughout Thailand are also facing a similar situation and being left out from development agenda.

Recent situations of small-scale fisheries

Thailand has faced a problem of sustainable fisheries since the 1990s, both in the Gulf of Thailand and in the Andaman Sea.  Marine resources have deteriorated, and large Thai fishing vessels have increasingly ventured into neighbouring waters. In addition, large commercial fishing vessels require on-board labourers, so Thai and foreign workers have been recruited.  In many cases, workers have been abused and have become modern-day slaves in the fisheries.  Apart from environmental issues, large-scale fisheries thus often involve human rights violations. The problem is complex and difficult to resolve, mainly because it involves corruption and influential figures in both political and economic realms.

In April 2015, the European Commission announced the suspension of fishery products imported from Thailand due to “Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU fishing)”. Thailand along with several other countries fell into the “yellow card” status, meaning that an immediate remedy should be issued and implemented or else a total ban may follow. IUU fishing not only degrades marine resources, it also puts lawful fishers at a disadvantage.  In addition, it deteriorates ecosystems and weakens coastal communities.3 It is also possible that fisheries problem could affect the export of seafood to the US market, as the US recently enacted the Action Plan for Implementing the Task Force Recommendations.4

The Thai government is trying to solve the problem by establishing a Command Center for Combating Illegal Fishing (CCCIF).  Vessel Monitoring Centers or Port-in Port-Out Control Centres have been set up at 28 sites along Thai coastal areas to enhance monitoring and inspection.  In addition, the new Fisheries Act has been amended to include a new Fisheries Control Act that provides for improved control of in-and-out fishing vessels and ensures further penalties and higher fines for illegal fishers.5 This challenge is actually an opportunity for the government to take action and guarantee legal enforcement of fishery control in order to maintain a natural balance.  The government will have to stand firm and not be swayed by private sector requests for legal exemptions.  There is also a need to revise the policy and plan for real sustainable uses of natural resources.6

Private sector and other stakeholders have organized a Task Force or Task Group to support the government’s work on solving the problem; for example, there is a declaration for the termination of contracts and stopping the purchase of raw materials from partners or suppliers who violate the Fisheries Act of 2015 or who are related to human trafficking. These partnerships included proposals from the Shrimp Sustainable Supply Chain Task Force, which offered to reduce the use of fishmeal from fishing vessels by turning to the byproducts from tuna and surimi industries instead.7  Apparently, destructive fishing industries are related to the growth and the increasing monopolization by large food corporations. Fishmeal is one of the major animal feeds that comes from small fish/marine animals or from catches from large commercial fishing vessels.

Such IUU problems are critical, and in order to tackle them, over 10 government units have to work together in an integrated manner.  Currently, there are discrepancies in the information of each unit, like the number of boats registered, licenses to fish issued, proper fishing equipment, and so on.  With stronger enforcement and more strict measure on illegal fishing boats, local fishers receive higher yields.  However, some measures have negative impacts on local fishers, like restricting fishing grounds for less than 10 gross tonnage boats to three nautical miles from the shore by Section 34 of Fisheries Act of 2016. Those who violate that will have to pay heavy fines.

Local Fisher Folk Associations in several areas have filed objections to Section 34 through the provincial governor on the issue of fairness in accessing resources and management.  It should not be the size and weight of the boat that counts, but the type of fishing equipment. The government has set up a National Fisheries Policy Committee, chaired by the Prime Minister, consisting of fishery experts, commercial fishing operators, academics, and representatives from fisher folk associations. A subcommittee was set up to consider Section 34, but the proportion of fishers’ representation is very low and the solution and decision may be misguided and slow.

The National Fisheries Policy Committee concluded that Article 34 cannot be repealed as it may affect the integrative whole of the Fisheries Act 2016, but the Department of Fisheries will work on their official notification to revise fishing gear requisition and to allow local small-scale fishers to fish within the three nautical miles shore limit.8

Several social sectors offered solutions to this crisis.  Laws and enforcement can be a primary management tool.  The State that legislates and amends the laws needs to be more analytical, and data must be collected on a sound academic basis, public participation process is very necessary, and impacts on all sectors need to be addressed and managed.  Internationally accepted management principles which rest on fairness and take into account sustainable use of resources are also important.9

Another crisis of local small-scale fishing has to do with economic power imbalances and fluctuating pricing of marine animals. This is a deeply rooted and unresolved problem. Most of the fish pricing is set by middlemen or owners of fish piers/fish landings. The Federation of Thai Fisher Folks Associations, Raks Thalay Thai Association, and the Fisherfolk Network have cooperated in setting up a shop called ‘Fisher folk’10, selling seafood at a fair price for consumers as well as for fishers.  The shop started in the province of Prachuab Khiri Khan, then expanded to Nakhon Si Thammarat, Satun, and Songkhla Lake areas. This shop works as a small network with business management principles.  The shop is an intermediary between Lemon Farm and small consumers; this corresponds to the concept of participatory development from bottom-up initiative and management.

The way this shop works is for fishers to buy fish at a 5-20 percent higher price than middlemen or fish piers.  Fishermen become shareholders and they will receive dividends if the sale is profitable. At the same time, profit from the shop is returned to the community in the form of resource rehabilitation activities. The network also set up a standard under the label of ‘Blue Brand’.11 The key is natural resource conservation, chemical free products, and environmentally friendly fishing equipment.  At the same time, they continued to befriend middlemen and fish pier owners.  This approach not only delivers fresh and quality products to consumers, but it also relays messages and stories of local fishers through these products.  It creates a new way of thinking for fishers, that they can be organized and have an outlet that sell fresh seafood at a fair price.  After the network is mobilized, then fishers can also work on resource rehabilitation and move to amend unfair rules and regulations.  It is evident that local organizations and local fishers are seeking solutions and creating cooperation in and among networks to address existing issues.

The problem of illegal fishing and local small-scale fisheries are not unique to Thailand, and can be considered as an ASEAN problem.  Each ASEAN country must cooperate in order to solve the problem and eliminate illegal fishing by stressing the importance of international legal instruments. ASEAN members should highlight the SDGs especially SDG 14, by addressing sustainable utilization of marine resources.  Local knowledge and management of small-scale fishers are to be given priority.  Furthermore, cooperation is needed from public sector, business community and local communities.

Solutions to large commercial fishing issues and IUU fisheries can be found in successful cases like Korea, the Philippines and Fiji.  These countries have restructured their fisheries and fishing industries, enabling them to receive ‘green cards.’  Their problems became an opportunity for a serious reform, and in turn, strengthening local capacity for more sustainable resource management.

From fossil fuel energy to renewable energy: the long and winding road

General Prayut Chan-ocha, Thai Prime Minister, speaking at the opening ceremony of COP21 meeting on 29 November 2016 in Paris, supported the attempt to limit the earth’s temperature increase by 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius, and to uphold principles of justice and mutual responsibility, depending on differentiated level of development and each country’s capacity, according to SDG 13.

However, the Thai leader’s vision seems to be in contradiction with what is happening in the country.  NCPO’s seizure of power claims it was based on need to reform the country, including the energy issue. But this government maintains the same stance on energy as the previous government, as for example, the push for coal-fired power plants, according to Thailand Power Development Plan 2015 (PDP 2015). The plan aims to produce at least 5,850 megawatts or almost double the capacity of existing power plants which means additional CO2 emissions of around 34 million tonnes. Despite opposition, the plan went through, partly owing to the fact that the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) announced that coal energy is economical, environmentally friendly and safe for people’s health. It avoided mention of increased CO2 emissions, which is contrary to global efforts to lower the use of coal as it produces more CO2 into the atmosphere than all types of fossil fuels. This is also contrary to Thai leader’s remarks on the urgency of limiting CO2 emissions.

Investment in fossil fuels such as coal also means lost investment on energy efficiency and clean energy industries. This is a form of ‘infrastructure lock-in’ which will lock the country into a position of relying on fossil fuels for the next few decades.

Included in PDP 2015 is the 800-megawatt coal power plant in Krabi, the 2,000-megawatt coal power plant in Tepa, Songkhla province and other two 1,000-megawatt plants, which are yet to announce their locations. There are also plans to build other several independent coal power plants, including one for paper manufacturing factories in Khao Hinson, Chachoengsao province and one for a potash mine in Bumnej Narong, Chaiyapum province.

People’s participation in decision-making processes

Given the pressures on civil society participation, we must thank every community that has the courage to oppose the coal power plant policy, open the arena for public discussion, delay the decision, extend timeframe to push for clean energy transition, and share the work of community groups with others that work on global warming all over the world.

For example, people from various communities and civil society organizations are campaigning to protect food security in the area of Klong Talad – Bang Prakong basin in Thailand’s eastern region, which has been targeted for industrial development for decades. The Khao Hinson 600-megawatt coal power plant project, proposed by the private sector owned National Power Supply Co. Ltd., which is part of Double A Co. Ltd. in 2007, became part of PDP as a base of reserve electric power. The proposed plant claims that will use ‘clean coal technology’ to generate electricity. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) done by a consultant, states that technology used in this plant would emit low level of toxic. However, communities in the area, which is one where high quality organic agriculture is flourishing, are concerned that the plant will monopolize local water supplies and increase the level of toxic emissions which communities already face from surrounding industrial factories. The EIA report is now being reviewed by a committee of specialists.

When the National Energy Policy Committee approved the construction of 800-megawatt power plant in Krabi province in February 2017, local people demonstrated in front of Government House to oppose it.12 Although EGAT claimed that the reason for this plant is due to growing demand in the southern region, partly because of the thriving tourism industry, the current capacity of power generation now exceeds demand. However, the unique geography of the southern region makes it difficult to fully integrate its grid system to the overall system, making it necessary for the southern region to build its own energy security capacity on the basis of fuel risk distribution. Thailand’s energy system currently relies on 70 percent natural gas, making coal power a viable option, while according to EGAT, renewable energy technologies are not reliable. Standing on the site of an old oil power plant, the proposed coal power plant will be labelled ‘clean coal technology’ which claims to reduce NOX, SOX emission and small dust particles to below standard level.13

Critics point out that this project does not fully consider the impact on the ecosystem of the area which includes an abundant mangrove forest. In addition to the problem of CO2 emissions, large ships carrying coal will also pose threats to the area’s marine ecosystem and local fisheries. Local people comment that EGAT’s participation processes are not open and not accountable, denying real community participation.14

Local critics joined academics to do a survey on potential alternative energy in local areas, finding that local communities have potential to generate 1,700 megawatts.15 Partly, these energies come from solar and wind, which are categorized as unreliable, but they also could include biomass, derived from waste of processing palm products. The policy sector still does not see this as reliable energy source, claiming it would cause instability to the overall energy system. While the Prime Minister ordered EGAT to review its EIA report in February 2017,16  this does not mean that the coal power plant project will come to an end.

The deepening conflict with sustainable development

The above examples highlight two obstacles to sustainable development in Thailand:

  • Lack of technological choices. The term ‘technological choice’ does not only refer to technologies in term of material, but also institutional management, and rules and regulations. For Thailand, in many cases, the choices of technology are predetermined, without public participation. Having choices means acknowledging pros and cons, reviewing the impact of each type of technology, how to handle such technology, and the ability to participate in decision-making for future alternatives. It also means good management, prepared for risks and mutual responsibility.
  • Unequal power in assessing project impact. The EIA process was conducted by private consultant company hired by the firm that proposed the project. While it is scrutinized in terms of accuracy and independence, this is done by technical advisors who do not understand local areas and local knowledge. Local people who have best knowledge of the area were excluded from the drafting of the EIA since the beginning, and accordingly, do not accept it.

Summary

The cases above show some of the problems with partnerships for sustainable development. First, as implemented in Thailand, the SDGs are bounded by mindsets and practices of bureaucracy. Consequently, the goals are reduced to measures or mere numbers without recognition of the principle of development that must put human values and ecological concerns at the centre, so that many minority groups and ordinary people are overlooked (or invisible) and discriminated against. This stems from the second point: the imbalance of power in public-private partnerships. Our examples show that they are not initiated from below but from the centralized power of the corporate-government complex, strengthened by a curtailment of freedom of speech and continued neoliberal policies. This leads to our third point: lack of feedback. In order for implementation to be meaningful, a participation process should be organized regularly to ensure that diverse voices from below are taken seriously, especially those who are suffered or suppressed. In terms of an institutional framework, there must be effective mechanisms to monitor monopolizing conglomerates and practices that undermine health, environment and diverse local ways of life. Furthermore, local or indigenous forms of knowledge must be channeled into a broader public policy space; co-production of knowledge among various sectors (community, academic, expert, private company, entrepreneurial, etc.) and across many silos of knowledge should be supported in order to rebalance power relations and to enable local initiative and innovation to flourish. Above all, so-called ‘glocal’ networking is a crucial part of learning to accomplish the SDGs and to construct powerful partnerships.

Original Post: http://www.socialwatch.org/node/17743

 

Notes:

1 Thai Publica, “Deputy Prime Minister address Pracha-Rath as a mean to achieve SDGs and sustainable development,” 2016, available at: http://thaipublica.org/2016/07/mobillzing-collective-action-somkid/

2 Briefing on National Civil Society Report on National Commitment to the SDGs, Thailand. Submitted by  Foundation for Women, March 2017. Monitoring and Review of the SDGs with the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law & Development (APWLD), available at: http://apwld.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/FFW_2.pdf

3 Parima Arkkarayut, “The European Union gives the yellow warning card to Thailand to solve IUU Fishing”, 2015, available at: https://www.scbeic.com/en/detail/product/1436.

4 Oranuch Sangcharuek, “Illegal, unregulated and uncontrolled fisheries: opportunities for fisheries reform in Thailand (Part 1)”, 2016; available at: http://thaipublica.org/2016/01/Iuu-reform-opportunities-1/

5 Parima Arkkarayut, 2015.

6 Nonarit Bisonyabut and Phanatit Lertprasertkul, “TDRI Agenda: ‘IUU Yellow Card’ Trap, what to do to avoid repeating the steps”, Bangkok Business Newspaper, 19 May 2016, available at: http://tdri.or.th/tdri-insight/iuu-20160519/

7 Parima Arkkarayut, 2015.

8 Isra News Agency, “Fisheries Policy Committee not repealed Article 34 due to the impact on the whole Fisheries Act, 2016, available at: https://www.isranews.org/isranews -news/44732-sea_4473201.html

9 Anchalee Pipattanawattanakul, “Retracing the reform of Thai Fisheries Law, why should small boats be allowed to go off shore”, 2016, available at: http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/en/news/blog1/blog/55667/

10 School of Changemakers, “Blue Brand: from local small-scale fishers to safe food standard”, 2015, available at: https://www.schoolofchangemakers.com/knowledge/9896

11 Ibid.

12 BBC, “National Energy Policy Committee approved the construction of 800-megawatt power plant in Krabi”, 2017, available at: http://www.bbc.com/thai/thailand-39000921

13 EGAT, “Krabi Power Plant and Khlong Rua Pier: Project Brief”, 2017, available at: http://projects-pdp2010.egat.co.th/projects1/images/Article/001.pdf

14 Thai Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism, “EGAT must abandon Krabi Project due to health and tourism impacts”, 2017, available at: http://www.tcijthai.com/news/2014/07/scoop/3955

15 ThaiPBS, “EGAT must buy renewable energy from the locals which have high potential for power development”, 2016, available at: http://news.thaipbs.or.th/content/255814

16 ThaiPBS, “No more demonstration after rejection of  EIA”, 2017, available at: http://news.thaipbs.or.th/content/260312

Thailand Progress on SDGs Implementation

On 26th July 2017, Mr Chol Bunnag, Head of SDG Move, served as an MC at Thailand Progress on SDGs Implementation Forum. The Forum presented the results of the UN High-level political forum 2017, held from 10th to 19th July 2017. Besides, it issues the report on Thailand’s progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Therefore, what is the progress of Thailand towards achieving SDGs? Find out from the infographic below.

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As illustrated, Thailand is placed at the 55th out of 157 countries. The country has invested a lot of efforts on reducing poverty (Goal 1) and ensuring access to clean water and sanitation (Goal 6). More meaningful and collaborative actions, however, are still required for the country to achieve overall SDGs.

Minister of Foreign Affairs delivered Thailand’s Country Statement at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) on 17 July 2017 at the United Nations Headquarters, New York City

On Monday, 17 July 2017, Mr Don Pramudwinai, the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs, delivered the Country Statement at the 2017 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), in New York City. The statement describes Thailand’s success in reducing poverty, addressing hunger, and enhancing health care system. It also highlights Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) as Thailand’s approach towards the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Mr Don Pramudwinai shares three key factors to eradicating poverty and fostering prosperity. They are:

  1. localizing and communitizing SDGs by commencing at the community level;
  2. engaging all stakeholders through public-private-people partnership;
  3. promoting partnership for SDGs based on SEP (SEP for SDGs Partnership)

Following the conclusion of the G-77 chairmanship, Thailand continues to play a role in encouraging implementation of the SDGs at the regional and sub-regional levels.

 

Information from Mr Chol Bunnag, SDG Move researcher, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Thailand at the High-Level Political Forum 2017

Thailand attaches great importance to the concept of sustainable development which has long taken root in the country. The country has been guided by the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP), conceived by His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. SEP has been adopted as the core principle of National Economic and Social Development Plan since 2002. The current constitution has integrated SEP and sustainable development as integral parts. The development approach based on SEP is in conformity with the core principle of the 2030 Agenda and can serve as an approach to support the realization of the SDGs.

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MAIN HIGHLIGHTS

MAINSTREAMING THE SDGS

SEP and SDGs have been integrated into the 20 – Year National Strategy Framework and the 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan (2017 – 2021). As a result, plans and budgeting of all government agencies will be in line with SEP and SDGs.

NATIONAL MECHANISM FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

The National Committee for Sustainable Development (CSD), chaired by the Prime Minister, is Thailand’s main and highest mechanism responsible for the country’s sustainable development. It has 37 members from public, private academia and civil society, with the Secretary-General of National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) as the secretariat.The main task of CSD is formulating polices and strategies on national sustainable development and oversight their implementation, including the SDGs. It has established three sub-committees to advance the three inter – connected processes namely mobilizing the SDGs, raising awareness on sustainable development and the application of SEP, and compiling data and statistics to support the implementation and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda. Three taskforces were established and respectively tasked with (1) reviewing and recommending legal, economics and social measures necessary for achieving the SDGs; (2) coordinating works by numerous agencies, and priority setting; and (3) preparing report on Thailand’s progress, challenges, and recommendation in implementing the 2030 Agenda including the VNR.

KEY PROGRESS BY THE CSD

CSD has undertaken several steps to advance the SDGs implementation including establishing coordinating body for each of the SDGs, formulating roadmaps for all 17 SDGs, identifying 30 priority targets, synthesizing examples of SEP for SDGs model projects, examining gaps and discrepancies between the national baselines and the proposed global indicators.

RAISING SDGS AWARENESS AND CREATING OWNERSHIP

Representatives of private sector, academia and CSOs were invited to be in the CSD and its subsidiaries. Several rounds of stakeholders’ engagement has been conducted including with the private sector, CSO of various constituencies, youth as well as the members of National Legislative Assembly. As a result, these stakeholders are making contributions in accordance with their respective roles and expertise. Global Compact Network Thailand and other private entities are very active in mainstreaming SDGs and UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights into business operations. CSOs organized their own SDGs regional forums to present their views, concerns, and priorities under the SDGs. The CSOs have also produced their own VNR reports to supplement the Government’s VNR report. Their inputs as well as contributions from other stakeholders will further synergize Thailand’s efforts to achieve the SDGs.

VOLUNTARY NATIONAL REVIEW – A PROCESS

Thailand views the VNR as a process to engage and to create ownership more than a report-making exercise.The VNR taskforce comprises lead agencies of 17 SDGs and the National Statistical Office. Several rounds of consultations were conducted to gather relevant information. The content of the report derived from two processes: assessing progress and learning from communities.The report provides a snapshot of significant progress in 2016 together with approaches and good practices applied in 17 SDGs, especially the SEP for SDGs model projects studied and selected from diverse areas and sectors, as well as challenges faced in achieving some of the goals. Background on data collection and indicators together with statistical annex are also presented.The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as chair of VNR Taskforce in collaboration with local universities, organized regional engagement sessions to update stakeholders on the national SDGs implementation and gather their views on how the country should proceed to achieve the SDGs. Greater awareness and ownership have been generated along the process and the report drafting taskforce actually has gotten to appreciate local wisdom and community strength and learned more.

Learn more about Thailand progress of each Goal at UN Sustainable Knowledge Platform

(UNDP) together with several famous people in Thailand launched #isupportSDGs campaign

On the 2017 World Environmental Day (5th June), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) together with several famous people in Thailand launched #isupportSDGs campaign to create awareness of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) among the general public in Thailand.

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Martin Hart-Hansen, the UN-Deputy Resident Representative in Thailand, said that to achieve SDGs, everyone in the society has to play his or her part(s). He also hopes that with the help of these several celebrities, more people in Thailand will come to understand SDGs and the importance of sustainable development.

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