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Thailand’s Sufficiency Economy Strategy: Between Sustainable Development and Degrowth? By Istvan Rado Thammasat University.

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Presentation on theme: "Thailand’s Sufficiency Economy Strategy: Between Sustainable Development and Degrowth? By Istvan Rado Thammasat University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Thailand’s Sufficiency Economy Strategy: Between Sustainable Development and Degrowth? By Istvan Rado Thammasat University

2 Structure 1. Degrowth: Beyond Sustainable Development 1.1. Sustainable Development in the EU and ASEAN 1.2. The Degrowth Response 2. Thailand’s Sufficiency Economy Approach towards Sustainable Development 2.1. Socio-Economic Background 2.2. Thailand’s Development Strategy… 2.3. …And Its Shortcomings 3. Sufficiency Economy: Between Sustainable Development and Degrowth? - The Contribution of the Conference

3 1. Degrowth: Beyond Sustainable Development Economic growth is not sustainable, but human progress without economic growth is possible Key demands: Voluntary and equitable degrowth extension of human relations instead of market relations seeking higher human wellbeing through sustainable means Degrowth should be achieved through democratic means and participative planning. Such planned degrowth is understood in contrast to a recession (= unplanned degrowth).

4 1.1. Sustainable Development in the EU and ASEAN Based on the Rio Declaration in 1992: Each state has the right to its own environmental policies (Principles 2 and 11), simultaneous pursuit of the objectives of development and social and environmental sustainability (Principle 3, 5, and 12) through scientific knowledge and new technologies (Principle 9).

5 1.1. Sustainable Development in the EU and ASEAN Regional Framework Gothenburg Strategy 2001 ASEAN Community Roadmap (2009), SOERs Objectives and Measures Economic, social, and environmental interests to be served in a “mutually reinforcing way” Use of green technologies in the energy and transport sectors Each member nation to draw up its own national sustainable development strategy Operational targets > progress reports to European Commission “Effectively address global environmental issues without impinging on competitiveness, or social and economic development” Protection of biodiversity and natural resources developing and adapting environmentally-sound technology State of the Environment Reports every 3 years In both regions environmental sustainability is in rhetoric and in practice subservient to economic goals

6 1.2. The Degrowth Response Win-win between production and environment very unlikely Measurement of Wellbeing Based on “wrong” indicators GDP, as the indicator itself has serious shortcomings What are underlying conditions that cement the current growth regime? Property regimes (economic, political condition) Cultural attitudes

7 2. Thailand’s Sufficiency Economy Approach towards Sustainable Development Development policies in the 1960s and 1970s: Focus on industrialization Development of industrial workforce Infrastructure Development Results up to the present: Average economic growth from the early 1960s to the late 2000s was above 7% percent per year incidents of absolute poverty rapidly decreased since the first economic plan from over 50% of the total population to less than 10% in the late 2000s However: Urban-rural income gap has widened over the period

8 2.1. Socio-Economic Background Country Rural population share of national population in % Agricultural Share of GDP in % GINI Coefficient Indonesia Malaysia Philippines * Thailand Vietnam * Agriculture and Inequality in Transforming ASEAN Economies Source: (2009; *2006 data); NESDB

9 "Sufficiency Economy" is a philosophy that stresses the middle path as an overriding principle for appropriate conduct […] starting from the level of the families, communities, as well as the level of nation in development and administration so as to modernize in line with the forces of globalization. "Sufficiency" means moderation, reasonableness, and the need of self-immunity mechanism for sufficient protection from impact arising from internal and external changes. To achieve this, an application of knowledge with due consideration and prudence is essential. In particular great care is needed in the utilization of theories and methodologies for planning and implementation in every step. At the same time, it is essential to strengthen the moral fibre of the nation, so that everyone, particularly political and public officials, academic, businessmen at all levels, adheres first and foremost to the principle of honesty and integrity. In addition, a way of life based on patience, perseverance, diligence, wisdom and prudence is indispensable to create balance and be able to cope appropriately with critical challenges arising from extensive and rapid socioeconomic, environmental, and cultural changes in the world. (NESDB Definition, 1999) 2.2. Thailand’s Development Strategy…

10 "Sufficiency Economy" is a philosophy that stresses the middle path as an overriding principle for appropriate conduct […] starting from the level of the families, communities, as well as the level of nation in development and administration so as to modernize in line with the forces of globalization. "Sufficiency" means moderation, reasonableness, and the need of self- immunity mechanism for sufficient protection from impact arising from internal and external changes. To achieve this, an application of knowledge with due consideration and prudence is essential. In particular great care is needed in the utilization of theories and methodologies for planning and implementation in every step. At the same time, it is essential to strengthen the moral fibre of the nation, so that everyone, particularly political and public officials, academic, businessmen at all levels, adheres first and foremost to the principle of honesty and integrity. In addition, a way of life based on patience, perseverance, diligence, wisdom and prudence is indispensable to create balance and be able to cope appropriately with critical challenges arising from extensive and rapid socioeconomic, environmental, and cultural changes in the world. (NESDB Definition, 1999) Economic activities planned and carried out in accordance with these elements will contribute to “a more resilient, balanced, and sustainable development”, as well as to the ability “to meet the challenges arising from globalization and other changes” (Priyanut 2004)

11 Balanced Development Strategy as pursued by the Ministry of Interior (since 1998) and NESDB (since 2001): Gradual inclusion of rural economies into the mainstream economy Strengthening of communal self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship further economic integration through linking up rural production with processing industries 2.2. Thailand’s Development Strategy…

12 Political Decentralization: Community Development Plans De-emphasis of economic growth: Wellbeing as “final measure of success” (NESDB 2001) Environmental sustainability: communal management of land and resources 2.2. Thailand’s Development Strategy… Is Sufficiency Economy a Degrowth Strategy?

13 2.3. … And Its Shortcomings Practical: Community responsibilities are not matched equally with responsibilities of other actors (public and business sector) Scheme distortion by government officials assigned to “assist” community development (lack of political enforcement) Theoretical: Weak theoretical foundation

14 3. The Contribution of the Conference The national strategy of balanced development largely ignored in academic publications so far Alternative community initiatives predating the national strategy can profit from it (Inpaeng Network) Commons-based culture is not limited to traditional communities: Business and civil society sectors (Focolare Movement, Peer2Peer Movement)

15 Thank You!


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