UN seminar on policy approaches for sustainable and low carbon economic growth in Thailand

“Climate change is happening in South-East Asia and predicted economic losses are in the range of 6.7 per cent of combined GDP each year by 2010”, said Mr. Asif Ahmad, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Kingdom of Thailand at the National Seminar on Green Growth Policy Tools for Low Carbon Development in Thailand. “The UK Government is partnering with ESCAP to provide support to developing countries in acknowledgement of its responsibility as a member of the G8 group with a collective contribution of 40 per cent of the global greenhouse emissions”, he added.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) joined forces with the UK Embassy in Thailand, the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand to organize the seminar from 23 to 24 February at the UN Conference Centre in Bangkok, where senior Thai Government policy and decision makers reviewed policy tools and strategic approaches to promote sustainable and low carbon growth in Thailand.

The seminar introduced key decision- and policy-makers of the Royal Thai Government to available policy tools to foster green growth and low carbon development, while addressing poverty alleviation. It also helped establish a platform for further collaboration and development of green growth strategies and applications tailored to address the current and future needs of the country.

“The green growth concept provides a rationale for a new development paradigm. It focuses on how to encourage and stimulate an economic system change by greening conventional economic systems that are based on the over-exploitation of natural resources and burning of cheap fossil fuels without paying the related ecological and social costs”, Mr. Rae Kwon Chung, Director, Environment and Development Division, ESCAP told the seminar.

“Thailand has a unique chance now and needs to seize the opportunity to initiate such a change of the economic growth patterns, and ESCAP is ready to provide further assistance to the Government,” he added.

Like other Asia-Pacific countries, Thailand, recognizing the need for sustainable economic growth patterns, is developing green growth policies and measures, as endorsed by the 5th Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific (MCED-5) held in 2005. The Government is adjusting economic growth to mitigate and adapt to climate change through low carbon green growth, relying on recent advancements in resource- and energy-efficient policies, decisive steps towards sustainable infrastructure, consumption and production patterns, as well as innovation and technological developments.
“To achieve the transformation to a low carbon global economy before it is too late, we need both better international cooperative mechanisms as well as new growth approaches and policy strategies for individual countries”, said Mr. Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, NESDB Secretary General. Thailand’s 11th National Economic and Social Development Plan underlines the need for green growth pricing and legal tools that will support change in energy production and consumption, and promote new ways of life and consumption behavior in the country, he pointed out. This will also lead to “better, greener and more liveable cities and a stronger agricultural sector”, he added.

“Thailand can achieve a low carbon, more eco-efficient and sufficiency economy development path by incorporating green growth policies and tools in a sustainable fashion, which will ensure the preservation of precious natural resources and averting natural calamities caused by climate change variations” said Mr. Surapol Pattanee, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The seminar was the first in a series of green growth capacity development events designed to introduce sustainable and low-carbon growth options to support implementation of Thailand’s 11th National Economic and Social Development Plan, and in line with national Sufficiency Economy principles.