Thailand’s Sustainable Development Plan of Implementation
The 9th National Plan ( A.D. 2002 – 2006 ) which is the present national development
framework, adopts H.M. the King’s principle ; “ Sufficient Economy”, to be the country’s development and management philosophy. Importance is given to the balanced
state of people, society, economy and environment. Equally important is the adoption of the “middle path” strategy to steer the country through a series of crisis to the sustainable
and quality presence in the world community.
This sustainable development direction is seen in various national strategies which are: the strategy on natural resource and environmental management, the strategy to increase national competitiveness, the strategy on human development and social protection, the strategy to achieve sustainability of rural and urban development through participation of all social sectors. These strategies are elaborated as follows;
1) The Development of Natural Resources and Environment for Sustainability
The strategy emphasizes on conservation, revival and sustainable utilization of
natural resources. Projects under this strategy are the conservation and revival
of forest and coastal lines, holistic management of water basins, revival of
degraded natural resources, resolving and protecting pollution problems, and
improving the effectiveness of natural resource and environment management
by allowing participation from locals and all social stake holders.
2) Economic Development for Sustainability
Emphasis is given to the continuity of economic stability, growth that benefits
the majority of population, the production and consumption that responds to
need and improves life quality and, in the same time, does not jeopardize
environment nor create pollutions which shall turn into investment costs and
limitations to effective economic development.
3) Social Development for Sustainability
Importance is given to the consumption that is suitable and within nature’s
tolerant level to revive to its healthy state, and community waste within the
level absorbable and completely destroyable by ecosystem. A mechanism is
set up to allow participation from all social sectors, and create good
partnership among individual manufacturing units so that there will be fair
product distribution, which will lead to the production of goods that is safe to
consumers and harmless to environment, as well as responds to people’s basic
need. The end result is to eliminate poverty and gab of social differences.
4) Promotion of Social Participation for Sustainable Development
People and all stake holder sectors are given roles to participate in the
development of natural resources, environment, economy and society so that
all voices are heard and balanced.
The sustainable development policy and direction does not only appear in the National Economic and Social Development Plan, but there are a large number of policies, plans and measures to manage and conserve the country’s natural resources and environment in an overall picture , as well as segmental. Those already announced into use include the National Policy and Plan to Promote and Conserve Environment B.E. 2540-2559, the National Land Policy, the National Forest Policy and the National Policy on Municipal Waste. And in the light that problems of natural resource and environment are largely of a local level, there are also many local level plans and policies to handle them. These plans are; for example, the conservation and improvement plan of old town environment and the use of fiscal and financial measures as a key driver to conserve and manage natural resource and environment.
In the aspect of law, there is an announcement of the Act on the Promotion and Protection of National Environment B.E. 2535 which aims to manage and protect the nation’s environment in such a manner that it nurtures and does not obstruct the country’s socio-economical development. Additionally, the natural resource and environment issue has been incorporated into many important laws which have followed at a later stage i.e. the Constitute of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E. 2540, the Act Promulgating Local Administration Plan and Decentralization Process B.E. 2542. The latter act particularly emphasizes on the right and duty of people, private sector and local administrative entity to take part in protecting the country’s environment.
There are also the “National Agenda” and key strategies identified under the present government’s administration. Urgent issues that the country is putting effort to achieve
are; elimination of poverty, increasing national competitiveness, social capital development, and this paper subject - sustainable development. A sustainable development committee has been set up since December 2002. It is chaired by H.E. the Prime Minister.
The Progress of Thailand’s Sustainable Development
Although the ideas, policies and plans on sustainable development have been put into continual use for over 20 years, success has been seen on the economic side only. The severity of the unbalanced state of development is apparent from the Sustainable Development Index ( developed by Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Board - NESDB) and the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal.
The Sustainable Development Index
1.1 The overall economic sustainability index is at a satisfying level. In 2003, the
economic index indicated 79.05 % or at a good level ( increased from 66.65 % in
2001 ). The index on economic stability made a satisfying adjustment as well;
from 39.51 % in the last year of the 8th Plan to 80.04 % in 2002 and 87 % in 2003,
lifting the development level from “need for improvement” to a better level.
Unemployment went down to the level before the economic crisis, resulting in
faster reduction of poverty proportion than the 9th Plan’s projection. The index of
poverty solving result ด?ชน?ผลส?มฤทธ??การแก?ไขป?ญหาความยากจน increased to
10 % in 2003. The proportion of public debt which used to be high has come
down and met the target of the Ministry of Finance. The current account balance
was surplus whereas domestic income distribution indicated toward a better
1.2 The social sustainability development needs improvement. The social
sustainability development index in 2003 showed 65.37 % ( increased from
62.51 % in 2001 which is regarded as slight change). The development of thpeople’s potentiality in the first half of the 9 Plan rated more or less the same as ththat of the same period in the 8 Plan because the learning result of Thai students
has not changed to the direction that shows improvement in teaching/learning
quality. The extension of basic education opportunity from 6 years to 9 years thsince the 7 Plan has not yet increased the number of year in education for the
population aging 15 years onwards as targeted. The educational result, evaluated
by the national test on Thai, English, mathematics and science, indicates a
declining direction. Also declining is the index on participation and good
management of the government sector which is averaged to be similar to that of ththe last year of the 8 Plan.
1.3 The sustainability development on environment is at a worrying level. The
environmental sustainability development index in 2003 measured only 48.57 %
( increased from 44.33 % in 2001) or at a need for improvement level.
Improvement is especially needed for environmental quality, water quality and air
quality in major cities. Further, the state of waste and hazardous waste disposal is
critical and needs serious improvement. The study of water quality in major rivers
and reservoirs by the Hazardous Control Division found that there is only a small
proportion of good quality water suitable for agriculture. As for air quality, dust thand Ozone gas content which was 28 % higher than standards in the 8 Plan had
remained unchanged until year 2003. The proportion of appropriate hazardous
waste treatment and disposal is small. These factors are all jeopardizing people’s
The Millennium Development Goal
NESDB has undertaken the evaluation of concerned government agencies against the 7 major goals of the Millennium Development Goal. The result was that Thailand has achieved or nearly achieved* 6 goals except for one which is the sustainable management of environment. Up to 2003, Thailand has undertaken and achieved the following;
Index Target Status
Total Forest Area ** 40 33
( percentage of national forest area in 2006)
Proportion of Renewable Energy Usage***
( percentage of commercial energy in 2011) 8 0.5
Proportion of Utilizing Municipal Waste**** 30 16
( percentage to total waste in 2006 )
* Target is to provide every child with primary education.
** The plan on sustainable conservation and utilization of biodiversity
( Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment ).
*** The policy on renewable energy utilization ( Ministry of Energy ).
**** The Social and Economic Development Plan ( NESDB).
Thailand’s Implementation Plan
Plans that have been already implemented in 2005,
; Holistic management of 4 pilot water basins. People’s participation is called for
under the guidelines approved by the cabinet on 16 September 2003.
; Announced a clear policy that the government shall buy goods and services that
are environmental friendly ( Green Government Procurement ). The detailed
announcement, that will follow at a later stage, will include type of product and
service, price and timing that the government plans to buy.
; Promote the use of bio- diesel and ethanol as fuel for vehicles.
; Incorporate the impact of economic development on natural resource and
environment into GDP calculation system ( Green GDP) so that it can be used as
a tool for policy decision making.
; Develop sustainability index at a local level ( 2005-2011)
Management Framework of Natural Resource and Environment for Sustainability Development
a) Utilize natural resource to add economic value,
b) Protect and revive natural resource for sustainable development,
c) Maintain environmental quality for people’s well being.
2.2 The Framework of Natural Resource and Environmental Management that
supports the Socio-economic Reform Strategy
Thailand heavily exploits natural resource in manufacturing to respond to the high
demand of consumers and is facing, as a result, severe degradation of natural
resource and environment. The guidelines to deviate the country to the
sustainability development direction should be as follows;
a) National Conservation Forest and Economic Forest
- Allow the use of national conservation forest, both land and sea,
for ecology tour business at a carrying capacity level of nature, - Allow private sectors that own a large area of land to grow
economic trees on their land. Improve laws relating to utilization
of economic forest so that they are realistic and practical.
b) Sea and Coastal Lines
- Increase quantity and richness of mangrove and coral areas so as to
enhance the reproduction of sea livings which should be continual
and balancing to the utilized quantity,
- Strict ban on devastating fishing equipments especially seabed
c) Soil and Land
- Dispersing holders of right over land so that it is accessible to
small farmers. This will be an incentive for improvement of soil
quality thus increasing agricultural productivity,
- Protect agricultural land where the state has already invested in
irrigation system so that it is kept for agricultural activities
- Utilize agricultural land in accordance with its soil and water
- Promote community organic and bio fertilizer. Promote the use of
organic and bio fertilizer in large and small farmers.
- Manage water resource to solve the problems of shortage, flooding
and contamination in a holistic manner,
- Increase capital water quantity by developing small reservoirs and
developing a fair and sufficient water distribution system, - Collect complete data of raw water from manufacturing sectors
outside agricultural sector for efficient and economic use, - Protect flooding by developing a network to deviate floods to areas
that can be absorbable without adverse effect on economic, life
quality and environment.
2) The Protection and Revival of Natural Resource for Sustainable Development
a) Forest and Coastal Lines
- Identify protected areas that strictly prohibit economic activities.
The protected area of water source forest and conservation forest
should be not less than 25 % of the country’s total area. Mangrove
not less than 1.5 million rais and wetland not less than 1.0 million
- Identify a clear area of water source forest, conservation forest and
mangrove forest so that it is known publicly as the areas
necessitating for healthy biodiversity and life quality of the
population at large,
- Increase abundance quality to protected forests,
- Increase the capability of local administration in the management
of natural resource and environment,
- Promote the development and utilization of forest as community
forest so as to encourage locals to take part in caring and utilizing
forest for a living, and consequently, improving poverty problem.
- Increase import duty tariff on chemical substances used in agriculture,
both in pesticides and fertilizers that effect health and environment.
c) Water Basin
- Revive water source forests and water courses in basins to their
plentiful state which shall ensure water security and protection of soil
- Strengthen safety of existing dams and water reservoirs so that they
are disaster protected,
- Develop an effective database and forecast of flow and quantity of
water in basins to achieve efficient water management and crisis
- Unify the country’s water management mechanisms so as to undertake
an effective management strategy i.e. supply meeting demand, as well
as flood and pollution protection.
3) Maintain Environment’s Quality for People’s Life Quality
- Reduce tax on environmental friendly products and services so as
to encourage consumption of goods that is not harmful to health, as
well as reduce waste and/or waste that is hard to dispose. The
government sector shall be the leader in using these products and
- Recommend the Metropolitan Water Work, Provincial Water
Work and municipalities to include the cost of waste water
treatment into their charge for good water supply. This aims to
reduce water consumption and encourage the treatment of waste
water to improve community’s life quality.
- Reduce tax on gasohol, bio-diesel and clean energy to promote the
use of renewable energy, reduce oil importation and add value to
- Allocate fund to local administration to maintain and improve their
- Promote waste reuse and recycle business clusters.
b) Increase Management Capability
- Increase the capability of local administration in managing all
kinds of pollution. The improvement would be in all managerial
aspects i.e. knowledge, collection of charge on pollution disposal
as well as communication and raising awareness and co-orporation
c) Government’s Investment
- Assign municipalities to construct and share a standardized waste
treatment plant, or undertake a joint venture business with private
sector in complete waste treatment cycle,
- Promote the construction of pooled waste water treatment at a
cluster of 5-10 households,
- Extend and connect public transportation system to cover town
area so as to solve traffic problem and reduce energy use in
d) Legal Measures
- Impose specific law on waste and hazardous waste by gathering
from existing laws and regulations that are now dispersing in many
- Improve and issue laws to control importation and production of
goods generating hazardous waste for people’s and environmental
Thailand has given importance to the sustainable development by putting the issue on the national agenda. The Sustainable Development Committee has been set up and chaired by the Prime Minister and has its role in formulating policies, follow up and assessment.
The policy and plan of the committee is in line with the Seoul Initiative on the Greening of Economic Growth. Firstly, the government is improving environmental sustainability of production and consumption by greening the government procurement process. It will buy green products and services at a higher price than ordinary non green. The details of green government procurement will be announced soon. Secondly, the government is promoting environment as an economic growth driver by utilizing national parks as tourist attraction yet limited to carrying capacity of indigenous ecosystem. The important cause of action that the government has yet to do in the near step is to establish a process for pricing natural resource to internalize appropriate environmental costs to help achieve sustainable development objectives.