The following is a presentation by Ms. Gwi-Yeop Son, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Thailand at the AseanAffairs Business Council’s Conference on HM the King’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy held in August in Bangkok, Thailand
In May 2006, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej was presented with a Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award by then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. This award from the UN Development Programme was in recognition of the King’s visionary thinking and extraordinary contributions in helping the poor and conserving the environment in Thailand.
A little over six months later, the UNDP helped launch an independent report that investigated the values and philosophies of the Sufficiency Economy as formulated by His Majesty. Through the award and the report, the UNDP hoped that this approach to sustainable living would receive a wider, international audience.
As the UN’s resident coordinator in Thailand and the UNDP’s resident representative, I see common ground between these principles and those of human development. At their hearts, both approaches are people focused. They emphasise that development is a process of equipping people with the opportunities to improve themselves and realize their potential.
Both approaches also assume that development should be sustainable, equitable and respectful of the natural environment. These are standards that we hold onto firmly at UNDP.
They generate 1.25 megawatts of electricity annually or the equivalent of supplying enough power to 2.2 million homes. This initiative alone has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by five million tonnes a year - the equal to taking 1.5 million cars off the road.
UNDP is providing expert advice to the city of Korat to help it become a low-carbon city. We are combining this with encouraging more public participation in city management. The aim being that the public will be better able to hold city officials accountable for their management and service delivery.
Human Rights Caravan
The Caravan concept has now been adopted by the Ministry of Education in the classroom to help raise awareness among students and teachers about these issues. The UN firmly believes that the bedrock of sustainable development is greater education, greater awareness of human rights, including legal rights, combined with greater opportunities.
The disastrous policies that rewarded short-term risk over long-term growth are being addressed and it is pleasing to see that many of the fiscal stimulus packages were aimed at the less well-off. I would like to see countries redouble efforts in the area of human development. It is not something that should be neglected as economies get back on their feet. A people-focused recovery is one that we should all be championing.
The Sufficiency Economy philosophy was forged in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, but its principles and values are worthy of renewed contemplation
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