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INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THAILAND


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INTEGRATED DECISION-MAKING

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

Thailand has established the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), and the National Environmental Board (NEB) as National sustainable development coordination mechanisms.

The NESDB's chairman is a distinguished elder statesman. Five ex-officio members include the Governor of the Bank of Thailand, Secretary General of the Civil Service Commission, Director of the Bureau of the Budget, Director General of the Fiscal Policy Office and the Secretary General of NESDB. Nine members are representatives from the private sector (many of whom have held senior government positions). NEB is chaired by the Prime Minister, the vice-chairman is a Deputy Prime Minister and the Miniser of Science, Technology and Enironment (MOSTE), twenty members are Ministers of Defence, Finance, Agriculture, Transport and Communications, Interior, Education, Public Health, Industry, Secretaries-general of NESDB and the Board of Investment, Director of the Budget Bureau, and up to eight other persons qualified in environmental matters. The Permanent Secretary of MOSTE is a member of the NEB and serves as its secretary.

There are a number of other actors/ institutions involved in these committees. In the NEB: eight persons qualified in environmental matters (e.g., academics, engineers, entrepreneurs, and community leaders), at least half of whom shall be representatives of the private sector). In addition to the Ministers and officials listed above, the current NEB includes the Chairman and the Director General of the Thailand Environment Institute (TEI), the Director of Thailand's National Commission on Women's Affairs, the President of an oil company, the Secretary General of the Population and Community Development Association, the Chairman of the Society for the Conservation of National Treasures and Environment, a senior civil servant in the Ministry of University Affairs, a distinguished professor in environmental engineering, an attorney and a Vice President of the Chulabhorn Research Institute.

The NESDC has authority to supervise the work of NESDB and to recommend suitable economic and social development strategies to the Cabinet. This committee alsohas the responsibility for screening and deliberating on the various plans,programmes, projects andpolicies submitted by the NESDB's Office and to make recommendations to theCabinet. The Office of NESDB is responsible for supplying data and submitting drafted five-year National Plans to the NESDC for consideration. Sometimes, theCabinet assigns work directly to the Office of NESDB through the Secretary-General.

The Office of Environmental Policy and Planning (OEPP) is the agency responsible for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) development. The agency is currently working with the Asian Development Bank and other international agencies to strengthen the EIA practice and build capacity for the future assessment of work.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

EIA application to policies and programmes is not yet as well developed as the procedure for specific projects. A number of international agreements have called for national strategies, plans and programmes in both sectoral and cross-sectoral areas. Laws and regulations are revised from time to time, reflecting, inter alia, a growing appreciation of sustainable development concerns. The main constraints to implementing international legal instruments related to sustainable development recently signed or ratified have been the lack of staff resources, technical expertise, time, and funding. There are also difficulties encountered in amending existing national legislation. However, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other agencies' expert assistance on specific issues, time-tested procedures for the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and other UNconsultations are perceived as very helpful.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

For over 40 years, the NESDB's mandate has been to supply social and economic data to Government, prepare draft comprehensive National Economic and Social Development Plans for Cabinet and Parliamentary approval (usually at 5-year intervals), evaluate progress compared with Plan targets, and undertake such special analyses as may be assigned to it from time to time. NEB's responsibilities are focused on improving environmental management within the larger framework of sustainable development drafted by NESDB; to submit policies and plans for enhancement and conservation of environment quality for Cabinet approval; to prescribe environmental quality standards; to consider and give approval to Changwat (provincial) Action Plans; to approve programmes to mitigate hazards caused by pollution; to specify measures to strengthen coordination among government agencies (and the private sector) concerning environmental quality, to submit periodic reports on environmental conditions to the Cabinet, and to perform other functions in support of sound environmental management policies.

Environmental sustainability, poverty alleviation, and quality of life considerations have been given increased attention in the National Social and Economic Development Plan during the last 20-25 years. This trend has continued with the adoption of Thailand's Eighth Plan in 1996.

EIA reporting is part of decision making for all major projects in Thailand. Projects of government agencies and enterprises require reports as part of each feasibility study, which are reviewed for approval by the National Environment Board. EIAs for private projects must be approved by a committee of experts before licenses are granted by the appropriate agencies.

EIA has been applied in Thailand as a tool for environmental planning and management of development projects since 1981. Currently, there are 22 types and sizes of projects for which the proponent must submit an EIA report before a license is granted. 

In order to develop integrated and holistic sustainable development strategies the following actions are necessary:

Development of economic based instruments, application of the "Polluter Pays Principle";
Cooperation between different stake holders;
Development of capacity building at the local community level and of local administrators
Development of transparent information dissemination

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

NGOs are consulted regularly regarding environmental development policies even though they are not officially represented in the NESDB or NEB. These NGOs represent a wide cross-section of experts trained and experienced in social and economic affairs, community organizations, public health, policy analysis and governance.

All major stakeholders are consulted and encouraged to participate in the EIA process. Increasingly, diverse voices are represented effectively. There is a strong need to strengthen capacity as well as technological information. In Thailand, experts in specific fields such as air and noise impact assessment, and industrial risk assessment are scarce. Modern methodologies and techniques such as mathematical modeling and expert systems need to be applied more widely.

Since the Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality Act was enacted in 1992, the EIA process in Thailand has been changed to allow for additional reviewing groups. Various stakeholders experience problems in the implementation of EIA requirements because of a lack of experience and expertise with large scale projects in specific sectors, the lack of interest in EIA work, and the low quality of some parts of EIA reports.

Status 

National Decision-Making Structure

1. National Sustainable Development Coordination Body: YES
2. National Sustainable Development Policy: YES
3. National Agenda 21/other strategy for SD: YES
4. Local/Regional Agenda(s) 21: NO
5. Environmental Impact Assessment Law: YES
6. Major Groups involved in Sustainable Development Decision-Making: YES

National Instruments and Programmes

1. Sustainable. Dev. or environmental education incorporated into school curricula: YES
2. Sustainable Development Indicators Program: YES
3. Ecolabel Regulations: NO
4. Recycle/Reuse Programs: YES
5. Green Accounting Program: YES
6. Access to Internet: YES
7. Access to World Wide Web: YES
8. A national World Wide Web Site for Sustainable Dev. or State of the Environment: YES
9. Address: www.cpd.go.th

Policies, Programmes, and Legislation

Does your country have either a policy, programme, and/or legislation consistent with Agenda 21 in:  
1. Combatting poverty: YES
2. Changing consumption and production patterns: YES
3. Atmosphere: YES
4. Land Use Planning: YES
5. Forest and Deforestation: YES
6. Desertification and Drought: YES
7. Sustainable Mountain Development: YES
8. Sustainable Agriculture: YES
9. Biological Diversity: YES
10. Biotechnology: YES
11. Oceans and Coastal Areas: YES
12. Freshwater Management: YES
13. Toxic Chemicals: YES
14. Hazardous Wastes: YES
15. Solid Wastes: YES
16. Radioactive Wastes: YES
17. Energy: YES
18. Transport: YES
19. Sustainable Tourism: YES

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

Capacity-building should provide the appropriate technological development at all levels. It should provide the knowledge to streamline the development focus by linking related resources into integrated development perspective. Technologies to prevent and reduce waste and to improve efficiency in resource utilization are necessary. Clean and environmental-friendly technologies should be promoted along with the enhancement of human resource capacity. Coordination between related agencies, national, regional and local levels is also vital to the transfer of principles to plans and policies. Development of rapid and transparent information flows to the public and concerned parties is needed for policy and planning formulation process.

Research institutions, academia, the private sector and NGOs all contribute in the capacity building effort.. At the national level, private sector organization and the public research institutions and academia play important role. At provincial or lower levels, NGOs, the public and the private sector are important in capacity-building. Thailand is now accelerating in building capacity to provincial and local administration especially the Sub-district Administration Organization in resource and environmental planning and management, along with the decentralization of resource management policies of the country.

Financing 

Finance is an important factor related to the quality of EIA reports, and EIA consulting firms are usually selected on the basis of the lowest biding price. Winning bids are quite low and do not allow for experienced experts to participate in preparing most reports.

Cooperation

Generally, the political implications of international agreements and other policy issues are dealt with through consultation among all groups of stakeholders and, following a national tradition, action is taken only after a consensus on major policy issues has been reached.

EIA has been used as an integrative environmental management tool among countries. International cooperation such as expert assistance can help develop capacity in the area of EIA. Presently, Thailand cooperates with various institutes in developing countries to organize EIA-related training/workshops and to prepare technical guidelines.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Thailand to the fifth, sixth and seventh sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development.  Last Update: February 1999.

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MAJOR GROUPS

WOMEN

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

Thailand has no discriminatory policies against women. In fact, gender integration is one of the prime objectives of the Thai Government in terms of human resource development and the enhancement of the role of major groups. In its Seventh National Plan, Thailand promoted the role of women in social and economic development through the improvement of laws and regulations. Thai women in the public and private sector enjoy maternity leave with pay for 60 to 90 days. Women's participation in decision making levels of the public and private sector has increased. Training has been regularly provided to rural women's groups to increase their ability to earn additional non-agricultural income. Policies to strengthen the role of women in sustainable development have been intensified in the Eighth National Plan.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

Historically, women have held important managerial responsibilities in business and government. Thailand was the first country to be represented by a female Executive Director at the World Bank in the 1960s.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Thailand to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

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CHILDREN AND YOUTH

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

The Department of Public Welfare provides useful services to improve children's growth, such as special courses for children who have low intelligence quotas. For environmental services, the Government provides environmental projects such as the Environmental Development Campus in order to let children understand and implement environmental conservation activities.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

All sectors of society will play an active role in this development in accordance with the principles enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which promises full participation of children and youth.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

Agenda 21 is consistent with the Children and Youth Development goals incorporated in the National Economic and Social Development Plan which aims to develop children and youth to their fullest potential. In this regard, children and youth will be the centre of national development policies. 

Status

Youth are ad hoc participants in national process related to sustainable development. The Government is committed to ensuring that by year 2000 more than 50% of youth, gender balanced, have access to appropriate secondary education or vocational training. Youth unemployment was 4,564,000 and 3,751,000 in 1992 and 1995 respectively.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Thailand to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

 

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

Thailand's indigenous people are largely Hilltribe people. At present, programmes for their development are included in the Master Plan of Environmental Community Development as well as drug control projects for mountainous areas. The objectives of these projects are to improve and manage permanent settlements to encourage Hilltribe participation in community development and national resource conservation.

The Master Plan guides government officers. The people participate in operational planning and implementation at the local level. Thailand's experience has shown that indigenous people and their communities tend to protect their resources effectively when they realize the contribution of the resources to their livelihood, and vice versa. Thailand has increased the role of local communities in resource management in many ways. In many cases, the Government has issued regulations to safeguard resources for the benefit of local communities. The Government encourages NGOs to facilitate and support local communities in the management of resources. The Government also provides training to local communities to optimize their resource utilization.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Thailand to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

 

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

In accordance with the Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality of 1992, NGOs that have legal status under Thai foreign law and are engaged in activities concerning environmental protection or natural resources conservation are entitled to register with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment. By the end of 1996, there were 65 NGOs registered, including 61 Thai and 4 international NGOs. Registered NGOs may request government assistance and support for their activities that are aimed at environmental protection and natural resource conservation.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

Major group organizations participate in national and local environmental impact assessment projects and are involved in the design of national sustainable development policies. During the early stages of formulating both the Seventh and Eighth Development Plans, regional workshops were convened in various parts of Thailand with representatives from community groups, academia, government offices, and other stakeholders.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

Mechanisms already exist to allow NGOs to participate in the conception, establishment, and evaluation of official mechanisms to review Agenda 21 implementation. NGO inputs are considered important to this process. NGOs and the press are also actively involved in the implementation of national sustainable development projects. A formal mid-term review of implementation of each plan is conducted, including public hearings. Thailand expects to include major group representatives in its 1997 delegation to the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), and Habitat II. NGOs and other major groups have been represented in delegations to major conferences (for example, Rio, Cairo, Copenhagen, Beijing, and Istanbul).

Financing 

The Department of Environmental Quality Promotion cooperates closely with a number of NGOs and educational institutions to support major groups. Specific disbursement amounts are not available at this time. 

Cooperation

Thailand also collaborates with international NGOs and other international organizations of major groups in national and regional sustainable development programmes (for example, the World Conservation Union (IUCN)).

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Thailand to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

 

LOCAL AUTHORITIES

Thailand has a Local Authorities project.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Thailand to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

 

WORKERS AND TRADE UNIONS

Status 

Thailand has ratified two International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions, excluding Conventions 87 and 98 on Freedom of Association and the Right to Organize. Labour Relations Law of Thailand has recognized the right of labour unions to organize and bargain collectively. So far, Thailand has established and promoted bipartite and tripartite bodies in dealing with safety, health, and sustainable development. Bipartite bodies are encouraged to be aware of and deal with working conditions and the environment, though collective agreements are mostly concerned with wages and the welfare benefits of workers. The government has implemented policies and taken measures to reduce occupational injuries and disease with a 2001 target of no more than 26 cases per thousand. Workers take part in National Agenda 21 discussions and implementation.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Thailand to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

 

BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

There are government policies to increase the efficiency of resource use, including reuse, recycling, and reduction of waste per unit of economic output. Government policies requiring recycling are in place.

Programmes and Projects 

Among the first initiatives of the Federation of Thai Industries to promote sustainable development, was the launching of the Industrial Environmental Management Programme (currently named as IEM Office) in March 1990, under a cooperative agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). One of its major objectives was to provide technical assistance to industries in the areas of industrial pollution prevention and control, toxic and hazardous waste management, and worker health and safety. The core of the programme is the promotion of "clean technology" and effective environmental management in Thai industries. Two examples of projects under this programme are waste water treatment technology for Electroplating, and Wastewater Control and Minimization in Small and Medium Textile Dyeing and Finishing Industries.

Status 

Even though Thailand's economic growth has been rapid and moved the country away from poverty, environmental concerns still require the attention of domestic and international partners. A clear and consistent policy on pollution prevention and a positive regulatory climate may encourage more enterprises to implement pollution prevention. In addition, a Pollution Prevention Fund for small and medium scale industry is expected to serve as a catalyst for moving industry towards a more sustainable pattern of development.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Thailand to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.

 

SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL COMMUNITY

No information available.

 

FARMERS

No information available.

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SCIENCE

Status 

The National Science and Technology Development Agency facilitates dialogue among the scientific community, the Government and the Public. In general, research in Thailand is conducted in public and private academic instituttions as well as public research centers and is mainly funded by the government budget. The results are disseminated to the public through seminars, science and technology fairs, newsletters etc. A program called "Science and Technology for Sustainable Rural Development" has been established to integrate the modern technology and indigenous local knowledge for sustainable rural development.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Thailand to the sixth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1998. Last Update: 20 March 1998.

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INFORMATION

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

Two agencies responsible for decision-making at the ministerial and national levels have primary responsibility for the collection, analysis, management, and dissemination of information and data related to sustainable development, namely the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, and the Department of Environmental Quality Promotion, Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment.

The two agencies mentioned above (the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, and the Department of Environmental Quality Promotion, Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment) are represented in the Thai Cabinet by the Secretary General of the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, by the Minister of Science, Technology, and Environment. In addition, the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) is comprised of representatives of government agencies, academic and research institutions, and the private sector, where policy is formulated, and legislation is coordinated, including the flow and management of information.

The 1997 Thai Constitution guarantees participation of communities and people in the decision making of governmental bodies on issues that affect them, including placing legislative proposals on the parliamentary agenda. The development of civil society is supported by the government, particularly in communities disadvantaged by the lack of access to information. Specifically, Section 59 of the Thai Constitution protects the right of persons to receive information from State agencies for the operation of any project or activity that may affect the quality of the environment, health and sanitary conditions, the quality of life, or any other material interest concerning him or her opinions on such matters in accordance with the public hearing procedure, as provide by law. Section 60 further gives people the right to participate in the decision-making process of State officials in the performance of administrative functions that affect or may affect his or her rights and liberties, as provided by law.

 The Public Relations Department, which is responsible for the collection, coordination, management, and dissemination of information on behalf of the government, has offices and representatives in every province of the country, as well as independent individuals located at many district and sub-district levels who collect and submit information for analysis and re-distribution, and who disseminate information to communities.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

The Thai Constitution of 1997 provides the legal, regulatory, and political framework for the management of information for decision-making in Thailand. This document is a significant improvement over all previous legal and regulatory schemes and complies fully to Agenda 21.

Chapters 3, 4, and 5 in Part VIII of the Eighth Plan present strategies for managing implementation of the Eighth Plan, including restructuring and reorienting development administration systems; promoting popular participation in implementation of the Plan; and developing an effective monitoring and evaluation system.  The key to successful implementation of these strategies is development of information systems that can be updated annually for the use of all relevant parties. Specifically, Chapter 5 focuses on the development of a monitoring and evaluation system employing the following guidelines:

·           Construction of a central development administration database covering all levels;

·           Construction of an information network that links existing databases via information technology; and,

·           Dissemination of information regarding the indicators designed to monitor national development.

 Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

All eight parts of the Eighth Plan offer strategies for bridging the data gap and upgrading access to and quality of information for decision making at all levels.  In Part II of the Eighth Plan, Chapter 2 aims at making family planning and other health development information available to all sectors of society, to ensure sufficient popular knowledge for the prevention of common illnesses, for the monitoring of people’s own health and that of their families, and for the promotion of healthy lifestyles.   Chapter 4 emphasizes the application of modern technology and information systems as a strategy to upgrade intellectual and labor skills for broadening the interests and points of view of the public, as well as increasing productivity.  The target of the strategy proposed in Part III, Chapter 2 and 3, is to improve the quality of information published and broadcast through the media and monitor and control inappropriate information that may have a detrimental effect on moral and cultural values. Information provided through the media is seen as an integral part of a social security system that raises awareness of individual and social rights, duties, and responsibilities, and that promotes cultural values.  Part IV suggests strategies for enhancing the development potential of rural areas through promotion of popular participation and strengthening the capacity of communities to play a role in local development and through restructuring of regional and rural development administration.  The guidelines offered in Chapter 2 include: 

·           Improving learning processes for upgrading the potential of community-based organizations through the dissemination of relevant information

·           Promoting the use of information and mass communications technology and establishing supporting networks of communications technology to improve learning within comminutes;

·           Disseminating through the media useful and diverse information to help people make choices about careers and employment;

·           Allowing public access to information on the impacts of economic and social development; and,

·           Providing greater access to information to the public to upgrade the capabilities of community organizations in social development and improving the quality of life. 

Similarly, Chapter 4 proposes guidelines for improving information systems used for development administration, as part of the restructuring of development administration systems.  In Part V, Chapter 3 recommends strategies and guidelines for ensuring Thailand’s economic competitiveness and ability to respond to changes in global markets. To develop a strong and stable production base the industrial and service sectors will be restructured by creating information systems and encouraging the dissemination of information about progress in production technology among various producer groups; and, stimulating the transfer of technology to small and medium scale enterprises.  Related to improving the management of natural resources and the environment, Part VI, Chapters 3 and 4 define strategies and guidelines for promoting local participation and collaborating with community groups. Guidelines proposed in Chapter 3 include:   

·           Development of information networks on natural resources and environmental conservation;

·           Dissemination of useful date to the public; and,

·           Recognizing the right of all stakeholders to access information. 

Chapter 4 suggests guidelines that are more resource specific such as conducting public information campaigns to promote thrifty and effective use of water. 

In Part VII of the Eighth Plan, Chapter 2 concentrates on creating opportunities for the community participation in national development. The aim is to modernize public administration to make it more flexible and adaptable to changes brought about by globalization and more effective in providing government services.  To this end, the Thai Government is committed to the following strategies: 

·           Managing conflicts in society by peaceful means, in part through the dissemination of accurate information ;

·           Enhancing the social power of the people, in part through the dissemination of information on legal matters among government officials and the public, concerning rights and duties and disseminating and enforcing government rules and regulations that benefit the people;

·           Protecting freedom of the press;

·           Promoting networks among community based organizations for the exchange of information and experience and improving administrative skills; and,

·           Promoting common understanding concerning public policy, to generate a joint vision through the dissemination of information concerning government policies and plans.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement 

Groups that contribute to the collection, assessment, management, and dissemination of information and data for decision making for sustainable development include the following: 

Group

Extent of Contribution

(Significant, Above Average, Satisfactory)

Civil servants

Significant

Scientists

Above average

Provincial Authorities

Significant

Local Authorities

Satisfactory

Women

Significant

Youth

Satisfactory

Non-Governmental Organizations

Above average

Private Sector and the business community

Significant

Farmers

Significant

Vulnerable groups

Satisfactory

The role of the private sector in providing information services at the local and national levels is considerable. Although nearly all Thai radio and television frequencies are controlled by the government, private firms compete to provide information services at the local and national levels. All but a very few radio and television stations are operated by private concessionaires.  

The Thai Government uses the commercial information sources provided by the private sector at all levels of operations: international, national, regional, provincial, and local.

From Thailand’s Action Plan for Sustainble Development (March 1997) 

Since the beginning of the 6th National Economic and Social Development Plan (1981-1985), Thailand has worked to improve its public administration system. Management efficiency in government agencies and public enterprises has been strengthened. The private sector has been invited to participate in many activities, especially in economic development. The Joint Public-Private Sector Consultative Committee chaired by the Prime Minister meets from time to time to discuss and decide development priorities in different regions of the country.  

NGOs have participated in development activities in Thailand for several decades, particularly in rural development, urban and urban slum development, and health issues. The growing concern over natural resource and environmental degradation has led to more NGOs becoming involved in the sustainable uses of resources, with many concentrating on agriculture, while others center their activities on natural resources and environmental protection.

Under the 1997 Thai Constitution was drafted through an innovative and exhaustive process of consultation with the public, through which the document was drafted. The process was undertaken by sampling public opinion through questionnaires and regional seminars. The Constitution emphasizes human rights, people’s participation in decision-making, the redress of complaints against officials and the monitoring of activities of politicians and officials.

 Relevant to this item is the right of access to information that is in the public domain and which is possessed by a government agency, including plans, projects, and budgets during the year they are implemented; manuals, orders, or instructions on official works that affect the private sector, cabinet resolutions or resolutions from committees established by order of the Cabinet.[1]



[1]               Laird, John, Money Politics, Globalization, and Crisis: The Case of Thailand, 2000

Programmes and Projects 

The Thai Government has made significant investments in the organization and management of information related to development, natural resources and the environment since the inauguration of the First National Economic and Social Development Plan in 1961. Working with local universities, the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, and the Ministry of Interior have developed a computer based database system to monitor socioeconomic development of the country. This data, and that collected and organized by the National Statistics Office, is used by decision-makers at all levels of government and the academic and private sectors to formulate policy and to monitor and evaluate policy implementation. The Thai Government’s budget allocates funds on a routine basis for information dissemination through various media, including: national radio and television services; weather forecasting; public relations; and national satellite services for communication. Database and information systems also are operated for commercial and business data. The government operates a Tourist Information Center, which includes information related to cultural and natural recreation sites. Other routine activities of the government that facilitate the dissemination of information to decision-makers include: environmental awareness programs; information technology and communications engineering education; and, the administration of laws and the media

 Specifically related to the management of natural resources and protection of environmental quality, the budget allocates funds for the following information and database systems:

·           establishment of a MIS and computer network to support agricultural development;

·           development of an agricultural research information system;

·           establishment of an information technology office at MOSTE

·           information system for environmental management at MOSTE

Funds also have been allocated for the operation of the Coastal Resources Institute (CORIN) at Songkhla and for an enhanced MIS at the Department of Commercial Registration.

The 20-Year Environment Plan offer policies and guidelines for policy implementation. The chapter on Soils and Land Use recommend developing a soils and land information network, to support policy administration and management. To conserve the natural balance of Unique Ecosystems, the government will cooperate with international agencies to foster exchanges of technical and legal information.  

To ensure the sustainable management of Forestry Resources, the government will establish a standardized forest information network, provide information, and educate officials, politicians, local people, and personnel of all agencies to understand the value of forest resources.  The government also will clearly classify forestland use including preparing forest maps.  In addition, to improve the Management of Biodiversity in Forest Ecosystems, the government will establish a national biodiversity information network to improve the conservation and control of biodiversity use.  

To improve the management of Water Resources, the government proposes to establish a standardized water information network that will be used to disseminate information related to water use and the environmental impacts of water resources development.  Regarding the management of Mineral Resources, the 20-Year Environment Plan calls for the Thai Government to accelerate the classification and assessment of mineral resources and establish an information system of zoning mineral sources and identify priorities for development and utilization. 

For the sustainable development of Energy Resources, the Plan calls for the development and linking of energy resources information networks, between the government and the private sector. 

To prevent Pollution from Hazardous Materials and Hazardous Wastes, the 20-Year Environment Plan commits the government to setting up a hazardous materials information network at national and international levels, to operate emergency action plans, and to training of officials and private sector personnel to manage information related to hazardous materials. Specifically to deal with Hazardous Wastes, the government will design and install a hazardous waste management system to monitor the import, export, transport, collection, treatment, and eradication of hazardous wastes.  The government’s Policy for Community Environment calls for the integration of plans for basic services that are necessary for communities at all levels. This will be achieved by: 

Status 

There has been no effort to establish an overall policy, or framework, on information at the national level by integrating environment and development information. Thailand expects to develop this during the Eighth Plan period (1997-2001).

In addition to the 1997 Thai Constitution that mandates the decentralization of authority to local governments and the promotion of civil society groups (NGOs and community-based organizations), the Sub-District (tambon) Administrative Organization Act of 1994, provides for the legal incorporation of local government units, thus empowering them to initiate and participate in all sustainable development programs. The development of relationships between these relatively new organizations and the central government is currently in a transition stage, with direct lines of responsibility and a clear role for local organizations still in the formative stage. Thus, the structure of information network in Thailand related to sustainable development continues to evolve. 

The central government is undergoing reform, restructuring, and bureaucratic re-orientation in the context of the reforms mandated by the 1997 Constitution, and its new role as coordinator and facilitator, rather than initiator, of development activities. Information systems that were developed to channel information from the top down are being re-engineered to operate from the bottom up. The objective is to facilitate the free flow of information in both directions.

Assessment of Information on Sustainable Development (SG - significant; ST – satisfactory; AA – above average)

 

Channels

Media

Print-Material

Computer Networks

Sector

Commer-cial

Private

Public

Commer-
cial

Private

Public

Commer-cial

Private

Public

Information:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Availability

SG

SG

SG

SG

SG

SG

SG

SG

SG

Accessibility

SG

ST

AA

SG

SG

SG

SG

ST

AA

Level of use

SG

ST

ST

SG

ST

SG

SG

ST

AA

                     

Note:

Commercial Sector defined as: Service sector, commercial enterprises, industry, media, and communications

Private Sector defined as: Communities, NGOs, vulnerable groups, farmers, non-public and non-commercialized rural sector

Public Sector defined as: All levels of government (national, regional, provincial, local)

Thailand’s Eighth National Economic and Social Development Plan (1997-2001) mandates the development of an effective monitoring and evaluation system consisting of a five-tier set of indicators for measuring and evaluating the progress of national development, namely:

            (i)         Indicators of the Final Results of Development 

            (ii)         Indicators of the Efficiency of Development by Sectors

            (iii)         Indicators of the Efficiency of Development Strategies

            (iv)         Indicators of Organizational Efficiency

            (v)         Indicators of Actual Situations

In Thailand, sustainable development indicators are still in the early stages of development. However, some socioeconomic and environmental indicators have been generally used as key components of a reporting system on the state of the environment; for example, as guidelines to monitor policy/project development, and as a tool for integrating environmental concerns in sectoral policies. In addition, the state of environment report has been used as one of the Government's major tools for formulating sustainable development policies, measures, and projects. The indicators for the state of environment report will be improved in order to provide a basis for international cooperation with government agencies.

Challenges

There are several areas require strengthening in terms of improving the flow and management of information, namely:

·           Combating Poverty

·           Changing Consumption Patterns

·           Making Decisions for Sustainable Development

·           Combating Desertification and Drought

·           Sustainable Mountain Development

·           Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development

·           Conservation of Biological Diversity

·           Management of Biotechnology

·           Safer Use of Toxic Chemicals

·           Managing Hazardous Wastes

·           Managing Radioactive Wastes

·           Partnerships with NGOs

·           Financing Sustainable Development

·           Creating Capacity for Sustainable Development

·           Organizing for Sustainable Development

 Source: Draft Final Report, Preliminary Study on Agenda 21 – Thailand, Office of Environmental Policy and Planning, Bangkok, Thailand, 30 November 2000

Some limited areas of the northern and northeastern regions of Thailand may be isolated and have minimal access to information. However, Radio Thailand and the network of the Public Relations Department reach all areas of the country. The tele-communications network also is expanding rapidly, allowing access to telephone, facsimile, and the Internet.

The principal challenge to further enhancing the use of indicators or developing a national information system for sustainable development is administrative and financial. As a result of the financial and economic crises that beset Asia beginning in 1997, expansion of information systems throughout Thailand has been delayed. In fact, both the institutional capacity and technical expertise are available in Thailand to expand an information system in support of sustainable development. Due to financial restructuring, the expansion, enhancement, and availability of existing information networks have been postponed.

Information 

The most useful website is:  www.thaigov.go.th

This site provides information on how to locate relevant data in Thailand.

Research and Technologies 

The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has introduced a national network of Agricultural Technology Transfer Centers. The operations of the line agencies of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives will be modified to support integrated agricultural development and to function as a “one stop service” center. A diversity of agricultural related services will be made available in an integrated manner in the fields of crops, livestock, and fisheries, through Agricultural Technology Transfer Centers at the sub-district (tambon) level. The capacity of communities will be strengthened in planning and self-help functions related to the value added processing of agricultural products and to ensure the sustainable management of natural resources. Basic data and information systems will be developed at the community level. Rural communities will be encouraged to utilize budgets made available to local administrative organizations for agricultural development, to promote rural savings, and to support community-based funds for establishing agribusiness. The Centers will prepare a community database by undertaking studies and collecting baseline data at the community level. The studies will focus on geographic, socioeconomic, learning, and traditional knowledge information for each community.  

Information technologies, including GIS, expert systems, models, etc., are used by many agencies of the Thai Government, academic and research institutions, and by many private companies, for the continuous and accurate storage, management, and assessment of data.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

In support of Agenda 21’s proposals for improving the availability of Information for Decision-Making (Chapter 40), several chapters of the 20-Year Environment Plan offer policies and guidelines for policy implementation. The chapter on Soils and Land Use recommend developing a soils and land information network, to support policy administration and management. To conserve the natural balance of Unique Ecosystems, the government will cooperate with international agencies to foster exchanges of technical and legal information.  

To ensure the sustainable management of Forestry Resources, the government will establish a standardized forest information network, provide information, and educate officials, politicians, local people, and personnel of all agencies to understand the value of forest resources.  The government also will clearly classify forestland use including preparing forest maps.  In addition, to improve the Management of Biodiversity in Forest Ecosystems, the government will establish a national biodiversity information network to improve the conservation and control of biodiversity use.  

To improve the management of Water Resources, the government proposes to establish a standardized water information network that will be used to disseminate information related to water use and the environmental impacts of water resources development.  

Regarding the management of Mineral Resources, the 20-Year Environment Plan calls for the Thai Government to accelerate the classification and assessment of mineral resources and establish an information system of zoning mineral sources and identify priorities for development and utilization. For the sustainable development of Energy Resources, the Plan calls for the development and linking of energy resources information networks, between the government and the private sector. 

To prevent Pollution from Hazardous Materials and Hazardous Wastes, the 20-Year Environment Plan commits the government to setting up a hazardous materials information network at national and international levels, to operate emergency action plans, and to training of officials and private sector personnel to manage information related to hazardous materials. Specifically to deal with Hazardous Wastes, the government will design and install a hazardous waste management system to monitor the import, export, transport, collection, treatment, and eradication of hazardous wastes.  The government’s Policy for Community Environment calls for the integration of plans for basic services that are necessary for communities at all levels. This will be achieved by:

·      Supporting the dissemination of information, news, and the availability of basic services for integration of community development plans prepared by the government and private sector; and,

·      Promoting and supporting public access to information and public empowerment will be augmented by the creation of a standardized database system for community environment and green areas that is linked through a data network.  

Thailand’s Eighth National Economic and Social Development Plan (1997-2001) is highly supportive of nearly all proposals made by Agenda 21, including:

·      Aimed at developing human potential;

·      Support human development;

·      Upgrade communities;

·      Increase employment opportunities; and,

·      Upgrade the efficiency of public and private sector institutions. 

Three chapters of Part II of the Eighth Plan (Chapters 2, 3, 4, and 6) detail measures and guidelines for several important strategies, namely:

·        Development of the human spirit: Through the broader application of religious principles, a social environment that is conducive to collaboration will evolve that will promote all sectors to play a greater role in national development;

·        Reform of the education and learning systems, including the formation and development of teachers and the adoption of modern technologies and information systems;

·        Raising the capacity of laborers to promote increased competitiveness and effectiveness; and,

·        Development of the disadvantaged. 

In support of human development (Part III, Chapters 2 and 4), the Eighth Plan proposes that families and communities should be brought together to pursue community self-development, with the government playing a facilitating role.  This process should be supported by the promotion of culture and by the mass media, and facilitated by the government.  Also to upgrade the capabilities of communities to play an active role in local development, the Eighth Plan proposes to promote education, support public awareness and undertake training, the Part IV of the Eighth Plan offers several strategies, namely:

·        Encourage communities to develop their own capabilities to participate in local development;

·        Increase employment opportunities in rural areas to generate sufficient income and economic security and provide rural people working in the agriculture sector with a wider range of non-agricultural employment options; and,

·        Restructure the administrative units responsible for rural development. 

The promotion of education, public awareness, and training is crucial to ensuring the economic competitiveness for the fostering of human development and quality of life in Thailand.  Chapters 2, 3, and 4 of Part V of the Eighth Plan offer plans and measures for implementation in support of the proposals made in Agenda 21. Strategies proposed in the Eighth Plan include the following:

·        Develop the local economy of each area based on its potential, to generate new economic opportunities and improve the quality of life;

·        Establish a production base responsive to changes in global markets, focusing on agroindustry and community-based industries; and,

·        Maintain economic stability through the provision of adequate employment opportunities and moderate economic growth.

Specifically related to the modification of national mechanisms and international cooperation for capacity building, Chapter 3, Part VI, of the Eighth Plan, in its strategy to rehabilitate natural resources and environments, aims to have different sectors of society collaborate to:

·      Rehabilitate, protect, and demarcate reserve forests;

·      Promote systematic management of community forests;

·      Maintain the quality standard of water at 1996 levels; and,

·      Monitor and maintain urban air quality standards.   

The promotion of education, public awareness, and training, as well as the modification of national mechanisms for administration also are seen as important for creating an environment for the development of popular participation in the process of national development.  Specific to these objectives, Part VII, Chapter 2 of the Eighth Plan proposes strategies for the development of popular governance as follows:

·        Strengthening of law enforcement;

·        Creating opportunities for participation of all sectors in the development process;

·        Making the public sector more accountable to the public in administering the country; and,

·        Ensuring continuity in public administration.

 Finally, the training of public officials and development of a national monitoring and evaluation system are seen as important in upgrading the efficiency of operations of central government agencies to implement the Eighth Plan. Strategies proposed in Part VIII, Chapters 2 and 5 of the Eighth Plan to achieve this include:

·        Upgrading the efficiency of agencies responsible for implementing the Plan;

·        Revising the development administration system, including adjusting processes and mechanisms for implementation;

·        Promoting community participation in implementing the Plan, including empowerment of development partnerships and local communities;

·        Developing an effective monitoring and evaluation system consisting of a five-tier set of indicators for measuring and evaluating the progress of national development, namely:

            (i)         Indicators of the Final Results of Development 

            (ii)         Indicators of the Efficiency of Development by Sectors

            (iii)         Indicators of the Efficiency of Development Strategies

            (iv)         Indicators of Organizational Efficiency

            (v)         Indicators of Actual Situations

Financing

Funds are made available in the government budget on a routine basis to support scientific research, to promote research in science and technology, and to disseminate the results of research and development of appropriate technologies. The government also allocates a budget for the promotion, use, and upgrading of computer systems for research purposes. In addition, the government budget allocates funds for research and development of new agricultural technologies on a regular basis.  The transfer of technology is a high priority for the Thai Government, in its efforts to ensure that Thai products are competitive in world markets and that quality standards are maintained. Several centers and institutes are being established by the government to strengthen the capacity of public sector agencies to transfer technology, namely: a science and technology development park; industrial technology research and development center; and a biotechnology research and development unit that concentrates on the improvement and replication of plant material. The Thai Research Fund operates to finance specialized research on high priority technologies for immediate application in the industrial, agricultural, or manufacturing sectors. Support is being received from the Japanese Government for the Thai-Japan Technology Transfer Project, focusing on research and development of appropriate industrial, manufacturing, and agricultural technologies. Approximate percentage of budget: 30 percent.

The Thai Government has made significant investments in the organization and management of information related to development, natural resources and the environment since the inauguration of the First National Economic and Social Development Plan in 1961. Working with local universities, the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, and the Ministry of Interior have developed a computer based database system to monitor socioeconomic development of the country. This data, and that collected and organized by the National Statistics Office, is used by decision-makers at all levels of government and the academic and private sectors to formulate policy and to monitor and evaluate policy implementation. The Thai Government’s budget allocates funds on a routine basis for information dissemination through various media, including: national radio and television services; weather forecasting; public relations; and national satellite services for communication. Database and information systems also are operated for commercial and business data. The government operates a Tourist Information Center, which includes information related to cultural and natural recreation sites. Other routine activities of the government that facilitate the dissemination of information to decision-makers include: environmental awareness programs; information technology and communications engineering education; and, the administration of laws and the media. Specifically related to the management of natural resources and protection of environmental quality, the budget allocates funds for the following information and database systems:

·           establishment of a MIS and computer network to support agricultural development;

·           development of an agricultural research information system;

·           establishment of an information technology office at MOSTE

·           information system for environmental management at MOSTE

Funds also have been allocated for the operation of the Coastal Resources Institute (CORIN) at Songkhla and for an enhanced MIS at the Department of Commercial Approximate percentage of budget: 10 percent.

In addition to significant public sector investments in implementing Agenda 21, Thai business leaders have taken an active interest in participating in the global efforts to participate in the sustainable development process. To this end, the Thailand Business Council for Sustainable Development (TBCSD) was established in 1993 by a group of leading figures in the Thai business community. The TBCSD is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable development through business leadership. In the capacity of Secretariat to the TBCSD, the Thailand Environment Institute (TEI) works closely with TBCSD members and counterparts to implement TBCSD initiated projects.

 The objectives of the TBCSD include:

·                    to promote the concept of "Sustainable Development" amongst business leaders;

·                    to disseminate information on sound environmental practices to the business community and the general public;

·                    to encourage the business community to adopt a leading role in preventing and solving environmental problems; and,

      to promote the spirit of corporate citizenship in enhancing the quality of the environment 

The Thai Research Fund operates to finance specialized research on high priority technologies for immediate application in the industrial, agricultural, or manufacturing sectors.  In addition, see item 26 above. 

TBCSD Guidelines for Sustainable Development: The Thailand Business Council for Sustainable Development (TBCSD has issued guidelines for sustainable development). This project promoted the concept and practice of sustainable development among the business community in Thailand by encouraging the private sector to adopt a proactive role towards society and the environment.

Pilot Project for Implementation of ISO 14000 and Sequential Training of ISO 14000: These projects aims to promote the adoption of the ISO series prior to the official launch in an effort to reap the benefits of proactive management and support the goal of sustainable development, and to encourage TBCSD members to become leaders in the implementation of ISO 14001. 

Environmental Conservation Circle (EEC): This project aimed to benefit from the Quality Control Circle (QCC) principles for creating environmental awareness in the private sector , to foster a change in employee attitudes and practices towards environmental conservation, and to promote environmental consciousness and concern for future generations through group dynamics and worker participation.

TBCSD Public Relations: This project aims to develop a positive corporate environmental image of the participating business leaders who have initiated concerted efforts to protect the environment through raising environmental awareness amongst the general public, in addition to informing others about TBCSD activities and achievements

In addition, several NGOs are working in this field, namely: 

1.      Green Net

·        Marketing of alternative agricultural products

·        Disseminate information on alternative agriculture and consumer information

·        Coordinate alternative agricultural networks

2.      Green World Foundation

·        Green World Environment News Center

·        Network for public exchange of information

3.      Seub Nakhasathien Foundation

·        Campaigning for forest conservation

·        Dissemination of information on natural resources and environmental conservation

·        Building alliances in environmental activities

Cooperation

On a regional basis, the government is establishing a Mekong Environmental Data Network to facilitate the exchange of technical information and the dissemination of technologies appropriate for countries in the Mekong River basin. Support is being received from the Japanese Government for the Thai-Japan Technology Transfer Project, focusing on research and development of appropriate industrial, manufacturing, and agricultural technologies.

The Thai Government has been providing assistance through the Department of Technical and Economic Cooperation (DTEC) to the government and people of the Lao PDR on aspects of sustainable agricultural development and educational reform.

 Also, Thailand participates in technology exchange programs with ASEAN Member Countries on various aspect of agricultural, environmental, and industrial technology.

The Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board is developing indicators to measure the impacts of programs implemented under the Eighth National Economic and Social Development Plan. These indicators will be adapted for use in measuring sustainable development, once they have been applied to the Eighth Plan. The indicators are expected to provide information for decision-makers in formulating the Ninth Plan. Various international organizations were consulted in the course of defining the sustainable development indicators, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; UNEP; WHO; and, the ASEAN Secretariat.

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This information was provided by the Government of Thailand to the fifth and ninth sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: February 2001.

For information from the National Statistics Office, click here:

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INTERNATIONAL LAW

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

This is a listing of major agreements and conventions entered into by the Government of Thailand which are relevant to Agenda 21:

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This information was provided by the Government of Thailand to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: 1 April 1997.



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