Secretary-General Kofi Annan today presented the United Nations first Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award to King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, hailing the monarch’s tireless 60-year-long efforts to help the poorest and most vulnerable people in his kingdom as an example to the world.
“Your Majesty has made an extraordinary contribution to human development. As the world’s ‘Development King,’ Your Majesty has reached out to the poorest and the most vulnerable people of Thailand – regardless of their status, ethnicity or religion – listened to their problems, and empowered them to take their lives in their own hands,” Mr. Annan told the King at the award ceremony.
The new prize is awarded by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and Mr. Annan cited the King’s countless rural development projects that have benefited millions of people across Thailand, promoting small-scale agriculture, appropriate farming technologies, sustainable use of water, conservation, and flood and drought mitigation.
“As a visionary thinker, Your Majesty has played an invaluable role in shaping the global development dialogue,” he said. “Your Majesty’s ‘Sufficiency Economy’ philosophy – emphasizing moderation, responsible consumption, and resilience to external shocks – is of great relevance worldwide during these times of rapid globalization.
“It reinforces the United Nation’s efforts to promote a people-centred and sustainable path of development. With this Award, we hope to further promote the invaluable experiences and lessons learnt from Your Majesty’s development endeavours, and help draw attention to Your Majesty’s visionary thinking beyond the borders of the Kingdom of Thailand.”
In an earlier speech to a high-level panel on the King’s programmes, Mr. Annan noted that, reduced to its essence, human development is a very simple concept: empowering people, the few nor even the many, but all people.
“It is about empowering them through education, through opportunity, through health care and nutrition. It is about empowering individuals with choices so that they may live healthy, knowledgeable and creative lives,” he said.
“The United Nations prioritizes such development at the very centre of its agenda, and we put tremendous effort into promoting it. We do it through UNDP’s global and national Human Development Reports. We do it through the development work of UN Country Teams in 166 countries across the world. And we do it through this award.
“After all, if human development is about putting people first, there can no better advocate for it than His Majesty,” he added.