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Thais Join Forces to Host 10th World Environmental Education Congress

The Chaipattana Foundation, via the Royal Project on Laem Phak Bia Environmental Study and Development, in collaboration with Thai environmental networks and WEEC Network will host the 10th World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC2019) between 3 and 7 November 2019 at the Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Center (BITEC Bangna) to foster academic cooperation among congress participants, academics, and local scholars, and also to engage youth from developing nations in the exchanges of knowledge and joint formulation of solutions to environmental issues that exist today or may emerge in the future.

Dr. Sumet Tantivejkul, Chaipattana Foundation’s board member and secretary-general

Dr. Sumet Tantivejkul, Chaipattana Foundation’s board member and secretary-general (see photo) in his capacity as the honorary chair of the WEEC2019 steering committee, says environmental problems are now important issues in the society and everyone undeniably must be responsible for addressing environmental concerns. He emphasizes that the inculcation of green mind to conserve and develop the environment is not the duty of any specific person, but the shared duty of all sectors in the society.

Recognizing the need for environmental conservation, HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn has granted a royal permission for the Chaipattana Foundation via the Royal Project on Laem Phak Bia Environmental Study and Development to co-organize WEEC2019 for the purpose of showcasing HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great’s talents in nature-based environmental management. The showcase, when done through international environmental networks, promises to create awareness of the need to conserve natural resources in the way that may upgrade relevant knowledge further.

Organisers and supporters
WEEC2019 will be held through the collaboration between the Chaipattana Foundation and relevant organizations from various sectors. Among them are the Kasetsart University’s Faculty of Environment, the Thailand Global Warming Academy (TGWA) by the Napamitr Foundation, the WEEC Network Office, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, and the Power for Sustainable Future Foundation. Many other organizations from both the government and the private sectors have also supported the event.
These supporters are: Thai Beverage Public Company Limited, C asean, PTT Public Company Limited, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited, TTW Public Company Limited, Sahaviriya Steel Industries Public Company Limited, Namyong Terminal Public Company Limited, Siam Cement Public Company Limited, and Top Gun Company Limited. N.C.C. International Event Company Limited, meanwhile, serves as the organizer.

Goals

The goals of WEEC2019 are to encourage the academic exchanges of environmental knowledge and the sharing of relevant experiences that will lead to efforts to explore environmental- management approaches for current and future situations; to foster academic cooperation; and to search for environmental solutions together at regional and global levels, under the “Local Knowledge, Communication and Global Connectivity” theme.

WEEC2019 also aims to foster academic cooperation among congress participants, academics from all over the world, and local scholars.
In addition, the event intends to give youth in developing nations opportunities to join the exchanges of knowledge and the formulation of approaches to address existing and future environmental problems. The environmental-management approaches, which are based on the propagation of environmental knowledge through various forms of communications designed for target groups across the world, will develop global networks for handling environmental problems. These approaches can be shared among operation-level officers, executives and planners. WEEC2019, in addition, will give a good opportunity for congress participations from all over the world to visit Bangkok that is rich in cultural attractions.
The upcoming congress, moreover, will be a forum to present HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great’s talents in social development and environmental sustainability to the global community.

Current global environmental changes directly affect human activities, with adverse impacts on their quality of life and living conditions. There are also indirect effects, which are perpetuated via disasters. In the face of global environmental changes, policies, measures and plans have been formulated to address environmental problems, conserve the environment and rehabilitate degraded environment.
WEEC2019 is one of the approaches for sustainable environmental development, which is directly related to human activities. The control of human activities, via environmental studies, originates from contributions from humans at all levels – household, community, society, national, regional and global levels. It takes technologies to distribute environmental knowledge to various target groups with effectiveness and efficiency so as to create environmental knowledge, understanding, awareness, conscience, and responsibility among individuals and networks. These elements will pave way for the academic exchanges of environmental knowledge and experiences, which encourage efforts to explore ways to manage global environmental changes as well as climate changes in both current and future context.

Program

Asst. Prof. Dr. Surat Bualert, dean of Kasetsart University’s Faculty of Environment in his capacity as the chair of the WEEC2019-organizing committee, says WEEC2019 will run for five days from 3 to 7 November 2019 at Bhiraj Halls 1-3 and Amber Halls 1-4 of BITEC Bangna, Bangkok.
Each day of the congress will have two main parts: 1. Plenary Hall that presents Plenary Sessions and Panel Discussions; and 2. Breakout Session that cover Oral Presentations, Round Table Sessions, Workshops and Side Events. Thanks to cooperation from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), there will be keynote speeches in as many as four days of the event. Keynote speakers are nationally or internationally- recognized specialists on environmental studies.

According to Asst. Prof. Dr. Surat, WEEC2019 will also include exhibitions by leading government and private organizations.  Academic exhibitions will feature works done by government agencies, foundations and associations so as to distribute knowledge and promote the “Environmental Quality Management Plan of B.E. 2560 – 2561 (2017-2018)”. This plan has four main strategies namely: 1) Balanced and fair management of natural resources; 2) Good management of environmental quality with prevention, treatments and rehabilitations in place; 3) Efficient and sustainable use of natural resources; and 4) Building capabilities to deal with climate change and natural disasters, as well as to promote cooperation with the international community.

PR exhibitions on environmental responsibility, according to Asst. Prof. Dr. Surat, will present activities that organizations in various sectors have conducted out of social and environmental responsibility and in pursuit of sustainable development. These exhibitions aim at sowing seeds for green mind and raising public awareness of the value of the environment so that environmental responsibility is successfully integrated into every step of work process and work operations. PR exhibitions on green products will showcase environmentally-friendly products and innovations. Visitors may buy these products at WEEC2019 too.
Furthermore, WEEC2019 will include one-day Technical and Cultural Excursion. Participants in WEEC2019 may choose to visit the site of an environmental education project, which covers a center on natural studies and ecological systems, or a cultural attraction whereby humans coexist with nature in line with the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy in support of sustainable economic and environmental development. The excursion to the cultural attraction will cover Thai-style green cultural activities.

Target

Target groups of WEEC2019 are executives, operation-level officers, researchers, and academics from both government and private sectors. In addition, WEEC2019 targets independent agencies, teachers, school students, and university students of state and private educational institutes, as well as environmentally-conscious people and those working in environmental fields in Thailand and other Asian nations. At WEEC2019, several organizations and universities will stage interesting activities about the environment. Included will be Poster Presentations on academic works and Art Gallery with environmental theme.

Hosted by Thailand, WEEC2019 is set to fulfill its goals of promoting, conducting PR for, and inculcating the mindset that is in line with the ‘Environmental Quality Management Plan of B.E. 2560 – 2561 (2017-2018)’.
The event will also educate the public and people in the environmental-education field in regards to knowledge and understanding for the joint promotion of environmental-education awareness and the need to take care of the environment not just today but also in the future. On top of this, WEEC2019 will give opportunities to people of all ages to express their opinions, knowledge, abilities, and interest that will promote the importance of environmental protection and support related campaigns across the world. Via WEEC2019, people will be able to exchange knowledge and experiences on international academic forums. WEEC2019, moreover, will provide a basis for relevant agencies in Asia to issue joint agreements on environmental education for people of all ages and all levels. So, in the end, there will be policy-based cooperation among the government, educational and private sectors under the ‘Environmental Quality Management Plan of B.E. 2560 – 2561 (2017-2018)’,” Asst. Prof. Dr. Surat says.

Themes

WEEC2019 will present conferences and sessions under the main theme of Local Knowledge, Communication and Global Connectivity.
There will also be three sub-themes namely: 1) Local Sphere; 2) Environmental Education and Communication Sphere and 3) Global Connectivity Sphere from 9am to 6pm between 4 and 6 November 2019.
As Thailand is the host of the event, participants who wish to make presentations at WEEC2019 may get 50-per-cent discount. For students, university students or persons who just wish to join sessions without making a presentation, they may reserve a seat at the fee of just Bt350 per day or Bt1,000 for three days. Members of the general public who wish to visit exhibitions at WEEC2019 will enjoy free admission. For details please browse to www.facebook.com/weec2019 or www.weec2019.org

Welcome to WEEC2019, welcome to Thailand!

Video message from Surat Bualert, Dean, Faculty of Environment Kasetsart University, Thailand

Come and join the Congress to share experiences in environment. «Education is the key issue to protect our environment in the future – says prof. Buarlert –  it is a good opportunity for asian people to meet and discuss with other researchers and educators from all around the world. It is a way to protect the environmente and see what we can do together, and I underline together».

You can register yourself here

See you in Bangkok!

South-South Cooperation, Alternative Development Pathways, speech of Dr Denis Nkala at 10WEEC

Dr. Denis Nkala, Regional Coordinator and Representative The United Nations office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), Asia and the Pacific Office, will be at the 10° WEEC Congress in  Bangkok as keynote speaker.
The topic of his speech will be the South-South Cooperation – Alternative Development Pathways.
Dr Nkala has worked in the Asia-Pacific region since 2006. He has worked extensively with countries in the region including China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Republic of Korea and Thailand. In 2009, he co-wrote a publication on South-South and triangular cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
Most recently, he has worked with a team from Thailand on a publication focusing on Thai outreach to other countries including the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy. Denis Nkala studied Economics and Business Administration (B.Sc.), Applied Economics (M.Sc.) and Applied Management and Decision Sciences (Ph.D.). His previous assignments also include Iraq and Zimbabwe. He is a national of Zimbabwe.

Thailand. Overview of the economy of the “Gentle Country”

The data of the International Monetary Fund speak for themselves: today Thailand is the second largest economy in Southeast Asia after Indonesia and, with a higher average income, acts as a point of reference for its less fortunate neighbors. The economy of the nation has diversified and, especially in recent years, has taken on more characteristics of “resilience”, the great capacity for adaptation and prediction of the epochal changes taking place. In this perspective, public investments should remain a key factor and increase in the coming years, in line with the government’s infrastructure plans to attract private investment. “They should”, because the year 2018 has seen the best results since the military-led government came to power in 2014, with economic growth reaching 4.6% of GDP even if a new decline is expected in the 2019 and in 2020 (3.9% and 3.7% respectively). This forecast, confirmed by all the major international analysts, is caused by the global slowdown in the commercial system and the growing trade tensions between the United States and China. Inflation for the moment remains at 0.9% and is expected to remain at around 1.1%; a condition that should be compensated by the favorable wage impact with new hires and increased activity in most sectors. The general government deficit and public debt remained relatively stable in 2018, estimated by respectively -0.8% and 41.3% by the IMF. Exports of goods and services (71% of GDP) should maintain good performances, despite the slowdown in China. It is fair to recall that in the period between the nineties of the last century and 2000 a high level of indebtedness was registered, absolutely not absorbed in the following decades. On the other hand, household consumption, which accounts for around 50% of GDP, should remain constant, keeping current real income levels, without leading to further improvements. Hence the difficulties inherent in public debt. For this reason, the Thai National Strategic Plan (2017-2036) focuses on improving the business environment and tends to strengthen the country’s competitiveness and economic performance in the medium to long term. Especially through the development of new railway lines, roads and highways, with new ports and airports. The continuous control of power by the Government in the reassurance has reassured many foreign investors previously discouraged by the potential instability. Therefore it is likely that an improvement over the next decade can be expected.
Increased regional competition, however, could reduce Thailand’s attractiveness as an investment destination. Years of internal political struggles and repeated “coups d’etat” have pushed the country away from its traditional alliance with the United States and even more so from China. The tensions between the new king Maha Vajiralongkorn, the ruling military junta and the political opposition intensified during the recent political elections (March 2019), the outcome of which led to a substantial strengthening of the previous power block. The unemployment rate remained low in 2018 (0.7%) and is expected to remain at the same level in the coming years. This “official” unemployment rate in Thailand is among the lowest in the world, especially due to the low birth rate (with a radical reversal, starting in 1980) and, in particular, due to the presence of a vast “informal sect ”, which employs most of the workforce (street vendors, motorcycle-taxis and independent).

The main economic sectors

Thailand has a workforce of 38.5 million out of a total population of 69.2 million. Its economy is still heavily dependent on agriculture and livestock, which represents 11% of GDP and employs 34.8% of the entire workforce.  We are faced with one of the leading producers and exporters of rice, now also strong in the rubber, sugar, corn, jute, cotton and tobacco sectors. Even if, as we will see later on, the problems and contradictions are not lacking, especially in this phase of “passage”.
Thailand was once one of the major exporters of hardwoods, particularly primary Teak and Dipterocarpus alatus, known in Thai as yang wood. In 1989 the government imposed a ban on deforestation following a catastrophic landslide in the southern part of the country, which was largely attributed to deforestation caused by a series of repeated “clean-up” operations that began after the Second World War.
Some cuts for local uses have continued and, although other types of timber from Thai forests have been illegally exported, the ban has generally been successful. There have been many efforts to conserve existing forests and expand forest reserves, although the various governments, despite considerable financial commitments, have had two orders of opposition: on the one hand the traditional agricultural populations, accustomed to radical interventions of enrichment of the land (even with fire) including the habit of freely disposing of unconstrained lumber. On the other side the oppositions of the great timber traders who saw their revenues drastically reduced.  Many “multinationals” of wood – local in nature – operate today in Laos, Cambodia, MyamMar, the Malacca peninsula, while maintaining the registered office in Thai territory.
The manufacturing sector represents 35.0% of GDP and is well diversified. The main Thai industries are those of components, steel production and electronics in all its aspects. Thailand is also known as an assembly center for international automotive brands. Also the productions concerning the equipment related to mechatronics, computers, the production of cement and stone derivatives, to wood, both in semi-finished and finished furniture, are flourishing. The “plastics” sector maintains a good level, having passed from the most traditional production techniques and put on the market (with products with a high polluting rate) in search of “green paths” with the creation and creation of “similar materials” derived from rice, palms, roots, leaves, legumes.
The textile sector employs less than a quarter of the workforce than it had in 1980 and this is because wage claims have led to an equalization of costs compared to Europe, Russia or America, making local production no more profitable. By far the most important sector for the Thai economy is tourism, both of pure fruition (of sea, jungle and mountain) and of a religious cultural nature.
The Thai government has bet a lot on this, increasing the number of guides, cultural promoters, organizers of short theme tours, support services (catering, hospitality, transport) by only 300% in 2010-2018. ) with the corresponding tripling of appropriations. To confirm this, the tertiary sector, including financial services (According to the “ILO 2017 White Paper”), is on the rise and contributes 56.3% of GDP. It employs 44.6% of the active population.

The prestigious productions

Before the sixties the economy of the “Gentile Country” was mainly based on the production of rice and other foods and goods mainly intended for internal use. Only some fine qualities of wood, especially the “tek” and tin were intended for export. Then also began the production of surplus of “Thai rice” appreciated above all in the Asian and American markets. We will have to wait until the second post-war period to have a significant leap in productive activity. In fact, the governments of the time undertook a serious and organic development policy based on the transition from traditional agriculture to the production of fabrics, consumer goods and, lately, parts of electronic and mechatronic components. Remaining in the agricultural sector, the one that has changed the most, it is recalled that the varieties of high-yielding rice were adopted only from the 60s of last century, rice crops are much less profitable than in other parts of Asia eastern, mainly due to the hydrography changed after the construction of large hydroelectric complexes and the tendency to intensive cultivation but with a low technological percentage. Now the main rice producing areas of Thailand are limited to the Chao Phraya basin and the Khorat plateau. However, agricultural production has diversified to meet the demands of the domestic and global markets. Among the crops produced for the market there are manioc, maize (oriental maize), kenaf (a jutelike fiber), longan, mango, pineapple, durian, cashews, countless varieties of vegetables and flowers. Growing crops such as rubber, coffee, sugar cane and particular fruits are mostly produced in large companies. Once tobacco was an important specific crop in the area, but decreased considerably due to the fall in foreign demand. More on agriculture and animal husbandry. The north-east of Thailand has long been known for its Indian buffalo and its livestock. As agriculture has become increasingly mechanized, the demand for water buffalo, once used for plowing and digging, has decreased significantly. Now it is bred especially for meat and some dairy derivatives. In this regard it is useful to remember that the breeding of livestock (autochthonous and imported) has undergone a radical transformation in the last five years, as well as for the large pig and poultry farms. There are no longer, by law, large companies “forced concentration” of animals, with narrow spaces of movement and obvious suffering of the “guests” but, slowly, it has gone to less invasive animal husbandry, with small farms or, if still large, with areas of movement and free feeding for the animals.
Bird flu in Southeast Asia at the beginning of the 21st century prompted the government to order the destruction of large numbers of chickens, leading to a general decline in poultry production and heavy revenue losses for producers. Immediately recovered, however, with the promotion of new companies with “green” management criteria and well-designed and distributed government incentives.

Finally, a reference to what, with rice and raw wood, was the main source of wealth destined for export: the subsoil.
The pond has long been one of Thailand’s most precious mineral resources, and the country has become one of the largest producers in the world. However, fluctuations in the world tin market have led to a reduction in production. Today, Thailand is the tenth in global global tin production. Other important resources are: coal (lignite), zinc, gypsum, fluorite, tungsten, limestone (from the finest to the most crude), different varieties of marble. Rubies and sapphires are extracted along the eastern coast of the peninsula and on the border with Laos and MyanMar (Burma) and, over time, have also become one of the main items of Thai economic activity.
Industrial expansion has increased the demand for electricity and fossil fuels. Electricity in Thailand comes mainly from hydroelectric power stations in the central plains, in the north, in the north-east and in Laos, with additional energy coming from thermal power stations that use natural gas and lignite. Thailand has significant reserves of offshore natural gas and less abundant onshore oil resources. In the 1990s a controversial pipeline for the transport of natural gas from Myanmar to Thailand was built, which was only partially realized in the end. At the beginning of the 21st century, the nation’s dependence on imported oil and natural gas for the energy had decreased considerably and is now only 14% of consumption dependent on foreign countries.

A bit of history…

From 1963 to 1997 the Thai economy was one of those with the highest growth rate. It is precisely in this period that various industries began to operate, especially in the Bangkok area and focus on exports. There was therefore a strong urbanization of the large urban areas and a progressive depopulation of the countryside. Those who continued to devote themselves to agriculture increasingly turned to machines to compensate for the shortage of workers, causing a shift in the rural economy from subsistence to market-oriented agriculture. Most investments in new technologies in the agricultural sector came from the savings of family members who had gone to work in the cities. It was exactly in that time frame that the main protests of the inhabitants of the plains and hills materialized. The large reservoirs to produce electricity by harnessing the rivers brought about considerable alterations in the delicate equilibrium of the water systems both upstream and downstream of the plants. Deforestation also proceeded at a rapid pace to make room for new monoculture crops, roads and commercial and industrial areas.

These protests, with the growing concerns of the middle class on the environment, have spurred the governments of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century to undertake projects with greater sensitivity to environmental issues than had been demonstrated by previous governments.
Export-oriented industries and financial institutions, particularly those created in the 1980s and 1990s, have relied heavily on foreign capital, making the Thai economy more vulnerable to changes in global economic conditions. In 1997, a sudden and rapid decline in the Thai currency, the baht, triggered a financial crisis that spread rapidly to other Asian countries. The crisis not only exposed Thailand’s excessive dependence on foreign capital, but also focused on the consequences of uneven development and weaknesses in various sectors of the economy. At the beginning of the 21st century, the economy had begun to recover, but the economic crisis and the emergence of a more democratic political order meant that economic policies became the subject of intense public debate.

A coup in September 2006 rekindled uncertainties over the future of the Thai economy. While announcing, rescinding and subsequently resetting various restrictions on foreign investment, the interim government promoted the king’s philosophy of “sufficiency economy”, an ideal emphasizing self-sufficiency and moderation in consumption, without rejecting capitalist investments. On this model it is moving, substantially, even today, even if the economies of scale reward – and will reward – more and more economies with highly committed plants and strategies (both of means and of men and capital) leading to the emergence, at the long China, neighboring India and even Indonesia. A nation, however, that makes flexibility its best weapon and that knows how to keep up with the times.

by Pier Luigi Cavalchini

Discover Thailand nature with the 10th WEEC

The Thai laws of 2002 and 2006 for the protection of the forest heritage as well as those for the protection of the most valuable areas, have allowed the slowing down of a process of progressive elimination of the forest component. At the beginning of 1900, 70% of the territory of Thailand was covered with forests, with fine mahogany trees, various types of walnut, oak and beech trees, as well as different types of pines. Gradually this natural “green lung” decreased to a skimpy 25% of the total around 2000. Since then there has been a vigorous swerve that led to the current stabilization, with a consolidated “green” presence of around 35% of the territory. Especially with many new areas for special protection or, in some cases, integral.
Particularly noteworthy are the areas of protection of teak and trees belonging to the Dipterocarpaceae, the Lauan, the Meranti, with large productions of resin and excellent wood. There are also giant bamboo forests with rods as high as eight meters and sections of 25 cm in diameter. Even these are duly protected or, as in the case of the Khao Sok (in the picture) reservation, even become an opportunity for revaluation also in terms of tourism and culture. The same applies to the large lotus plots and the three varieties of water lilies present, all well protected and followed by special groups of volunteers and “green policemen”.

The protection of animals, as well as forests has increased

Also the protection of the typical animals of the region has had, since the eighties, a particular attention. There are still areas where the cultivation of rice, cotton, hemp, pineapple, fruit palms is carried out, with traditional systems and, also with the use of buffalo, oxen and – sporadically – elephants with small ears, but – as you can imagine – by now all the crops are correctly mechanized, while maintaining little more than familiar extensions.
The use of these animals (and especially of the elephants) is, today, confined to some very isolated peripheral realities, or within didactic-information centers specialized in the promotion of the “Thai” traditions. A condition of protection that has been made explicit by the 1989 Delegation Law that has definitively freed all elephants registered in the Thai state from all forms of forced labor.
Serious damage to wildlife has been affected by poaching and the capture of particular exotic animals. Although it would be more appropriate to use the present time, since it is one of the most sanctioned crimes since 2000. The most sought-after animals are the tapirs, the rhinos and the elephants themselves. A similar fate has been left to gibbons, Khao monkeys and many types of birds.

This is a continuous struggle between local traffickers (linked to Chinese and Western sorting centers) and the various law enforcement agencies who, we recall, in the case of capturing the perpetrators, do not hesitate to apply very heavy penalties.
Similar conditions also reserved for the many producers of opium poppies, marijuana hemp and other hallucinogenic products (the “Thran” fungus among them).
A packet of hashish ready for use, if seized at the airport at the time of embarkation to leave Thailand, even if it is a few tens of grams, can lead to a minimum detention of three years. Pure fish industry, only partly Thai (mostly in Chinese and Malay), has contributed to the impoverishment and transformation of both marine and river biological variety. There are practically no more shrimps (the traditional “hakifs”) in free circulation conditions, as well as some types of crabs, particularly sought after for tasty meats.
However, since 1991 the centers of “fish culture” have increased with a gradual recovery, in special basins, of the traditional local fishery products.
Also the crocodiles and snakes, above all the cobras, the object of spasmodic hunting, although very forbidden, have also decreased. The first for particularly soft and shiny skins, the second for the poison (paid for by the weight of gold by the pharmaceutical industry) and for the variously spotted fleece.
Even the silk industry, for almost two hundred years the prerogative of the Chinese community, has been “recovered” thanks to government incentives that are making the Thai territory the third largest world producer of natural silk, that is the one that uses the worm in all its phases.
We are waiting for you in Thailand, at 10WEEC.

Pierluigi Cavalchini