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Improvement of the environment and natural resources: the goal of the Chaipattana Foundation

May it please, Your Royal Highness, May I, Sumet Tantivejkul, Secretary-General of the Chaipattana Foundation, humbly request Your Royal Highness permission to deliver the introductory Remarks for the 10th World Environmental Education Congress. Your Royal Highness, On behalf of the Chaipattana Foundation and distinguished participants, I am greatly honored to express our deepest appreciation to Your Royal Highness for graciously presiding over the 10th World Environmental Education Congress today.

On this remarkable event, I have a privilege to announce that we are delighted to serve as one of the organizers that made this congress happen for the first time in Asia. It is also a wonderful experience for us to work with other two co-organizers, Kasetsart University and the World Environment Education Network. Established by His Majesty Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the Chaipattana Foundation has served, for 30 years, to provide prompt, timely and necessary responses to problems affecting the Thai people through various development projects. The Faculty of Environment Kasetsart University has long been providing vital assistance to the Chaipattana Foundation particularly in the areas of environment. Therefore, this serves as an excellent opportunity to host the Congress together with our co-organizers whose expertise will guide us through the worldwide discussions and exchanges of ideas that will lead to sustainability of the local and global connectivity.

The Chaipattana Foundation’s great concern has always been on the improvement of the environment and natural resources. Therefore, various royal development projects aiming at improving the quality of soil and water have been established around the nation that apply simple, affordable, and practical methods. Among these projects is the Laem Phak Bia Environmental Study Research and Development Project or LERD in Petchaburi Province. The main purpose is to provide environmental knowledge for local communities and organizations on how to implement simple natural methods to treat solid waste and wastewater. Extensive research and experiments to make the natural methods become more effective have been conducted by an academic team from the Faculty of Environment, Kasetsart University.

Throughout the years of implementation, the results on the application of the natural methods have been satisfactory and the LERD Project has become internationally recognized. Each year, the Project received numerous visitors from every part of the world. Collaborations with several academic institutions in the national and international levels were also established.

As the world is becoming smaller and our common future has become a common challenge, the Chaipattana Foundation is confident that the knowledge sharing is the key. The sharing that will happen during the conference will bring forth diverse bodies of knowledge from around the world to help formulate guidelines that will help ease the environmental problems that are becoming more severe. I personally believe that this meaningful congress will eventually play a significant part that helps our common future gear towards sustainability.

On this auspicious occasion, with Your Royal Highness’ gracious permission, I have a great honor to respectfully invite Your Royal Highness to graciously deliver an opening address and to preside over the opening ceremony of the 10th World Environmental Education Congress for all the success of this remarkable event.

Education is the key to create significant changes

It is a privilege to preside over the opening ceremony of the 10th World Environmental Education Congress hosted by the Chaipattana Foundation and Kasetsart University in collaboration with the World Environmental Education Network. I am delighted to welcome such a large and diverse audience which is gathered here today.

It is a great pleasure to witness the commitment of the international community to fight the increasing degradation of our environment. I believe that we are here today because we all need to understand the fragile state of our environment and the importance of its protection. It is apparent that everything around us is interconnected. We will lose our balance, if we break the chain of nature’s connectivity, and the impact to human beings and all living things would be tremendous.

One great effect that may occur will concern food. To keep up with the increasing world population, there is a greater demand for food. Natural resources such as soil and water are essential foundation for food production. Therefore, sustainable use and preservation of these resources is crucial in order for the food system to function properly. If the soil becomes infertile or the water becomes polluted, producing sufficient and good quality food to feed the global population would be another challenge.

The Chaipattana Foundation has conducted many projects related to environmental improvement and also in connection with the implementation of standardized food production for consumption. One example is the seed production project that emphasizes producing the finest quality seeds because we truly believe that by producing quality seeds, we also produce quality yields. In order to do so, seeds need to be grown in a good environment. This project focuses on the production of quality seeds with zero use of chemical substances, causing no harm to natural resources. In addition, the use of chemical pesticide was replaced by using natural methods. At present, this project benefits local villagers covering three provinces in different parts of the country.

Another example is the Tea Seed Oil Plant and Oil Crops Research and Development Center. The Chaipattana Foundation introduced tea seed cultivation that involves the process of reforestation in the northern part of Thailand in an attempt to restore arid land and to enable the local people to have stable incomes and to create vocational opportunities in a sustainable manner. The quality of tea seed oil is also rich in nutritional properties, which is beneficial for daily consumption.

Most of the projects under the responsibility of the Chaipattana Foundation including these two aforementioned projects aim at educating people. The interested public is welcome to learn from us. I believe that education is the key to create significant changes and it is best to educate the younger generation. Thus, many of our projects try to provide knowledge and understanding, as well as to raise the people’s awareness regarding environmental issues because us, human beings, are one of the factors that intentionally or unintentionally damaged the balance of nature. This congress, I believe, serves as an excellent platform that engages a diverse audience particularly the younger generation, to educate, and to give a floor to us all to share our experiences, case studies, and stories of success that have occured in different parts of the world.

I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all those whose dedication and commitment have made this conference happen. I would also like to convey my appreciation to every concerned organization that has contributed to assuring the success of the conference. Without all of your support, organizing this significant event would not have been possible.

With these remarks, may I now open the 10th Environmental Education Congress. I wish the congress every success and all that the participants will have a pleasant time in Thailand.

Thank you very much.

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

Environmental education to understand the complexity of the world

Lyonpo Thakur Powdyel (on the left) with Mario Salomone WEEC Secretary General (on the right)

Your Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Honorable members and partners of Thai Organizing Committee, distinguished representatives of the UNESCO, UNFCCC and UNEP, distinguished representatives of public bodies, institutions, scientific societies, networks, universities, schools, parks, NGOs, dear friends and colleagues coming to Bangkok from all over the world, dear delegates from about seventy countries, I’m much honored to address to a such outstanding audience: my warmest thanks to all for attending the 10th World Environmental Education Congress.

Moreover, l would like to express my gratitude to the Kingdom of Thailand, to the people of this great and noble country for their warm welcome, their wonderful organization. And the splendid and superb mood you have made.

It is for me a great pleasure to open this congress. Among a lot of reasons, there are at least two main reasons for celebrating this great event in Bangkok:

1. We are meeting the goal of the 10th congress. Since 2003 the World Environmental Education Congresses are the most regular and important appointment for all the actors in environmental education (academia, associations, public institutions, civil society, etc.).

I hope the 10th WEEC will be a further opportunity for making the global WEEC network more useful. Having originated in 2003 and still growing, the 10th congress will enable the network to have broader and more active participation among the greatest possible number of environmental education actors, both academic and non-academic.

During the closing plenary session, on the 6th November, we announce the next milestone: The Eleventh World Congress, its location and its title, and we will open the ‘call for bid’ collecting candidacies for the congress in 2023.

Above all, I would like to remember and to underline you that WEECs are not simply congresses, but an opportunity of networking and partnerships for improving and strengthening the environmental education worldwide in the world.

WEECs are not simply scientific meetings, but are also a permanent organization fitted with advisory board, staff, websites, newsletters, WEECs are a strategic international network acting for spreading information, sharing knowledge, enhancing the work of thousands and thousands of teachers, researchers, educators, young environmental activists in all continents. Finally, an opportunity for all.

2. For the first time the WEECs land in Asia: the largest continent, the most populated, with a powerful and grandiose nature, with an ancient history and a flourishing of great civilizations, with the greatest variety of religious faiths, with the largest rural population and the largest number of workers in the industry. With a thriving economy until the Western/European colonization and which now resumes its place in the world, having therefore, like everyone, to face the challenge of sustainability.

Maybe, also a decolonization of the environmental education languages and patterns is needed.

In short, there is much to learn from Asia, and we hope it will be served, thanks to a conference full of papers, posters, workshops and authoritative speakers from four corners of the world and from different languages ​​and cultures.

Today we are also closing a month of worldwide initiatives throughout October, around the World environmental education day we celebrate each year on 14th October, because on 14th October 1977 the Tbilisi United Nations – UNESCO – UNEP Conference on environmental education opened.

Environmental education is and will always be more fundamental in a world that changes quickly and poses increasingly complex challenges, starting with “global heating”.

Psychological resistance, petty and thirsty interests, egoism, divisions, ideological cages, fears, hatreds, prejudices, all obstacles to let us to feel as precarious and temporary tenants of Mother Earth and part of a single planetary “community of destiny” will also remain in the future.

So, environmental education must be the pivot, the guide and the beacon of the education for peace, for planetary citizenship, for a fair trade, for a social and environmental justice, for the global heating mitigation.

At the same time, environmental education claims with satisfaction the fruit of decades of awareness raising, to change consciences, give awareness, change attitudes and therefore behaviors, spread knowledge and above all build competences of active and responsible citizenship and for change.

And environmental education is exactly that: a holistic education, to understand the complexity of the world as modified by human action, to understand a slightly different world every morning, and to give all human beings reasons for brotherhood and sisterhood, between them and the planet and the tool to stand upright and not get carried away like extras from the muddy river of the History.

So, my greetings and my warmest wishes: have a joyful and productive congress!

Mario Salomone