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Environmental Policy for sustainable development of Thailand

It is found that policy makers seemed to be able to recognize environmental problem only when
the solving of them was almost impossible. To prevent such disaster, effective environmental
policy is necessary from all levels. It is realized that environmental problems cannot be isolated
from others problems..It is also believed that environmental problems are often regarded as
unwanted side-effects of economic activities. .The current policy does not adequately assess
environmental degradation and loss of quality of life. The integration of environmental and
sustainable development considerations is one of most challenging aspect for policy level.
Generally, policy means a deliberate plan of action to guide decisions and achieve rational
outcomes. Policy differs from rules or law, while law can compel or prohibit behaviors where as
policy merely guides actions toward those that are most likely to achieve a desired outcome. So,
policy may also refer to the process of making important organizational decisions, including the
identification of different alternatives such as programs or spending priorities, and choosing
among them on the basis of the impact they will have.
So, the concept of environmental policy is a little bit different from general public policy. It
comprises two terms, environment and policy. Environment primarily refers to the ecological
dimensions where as policy deals with the course or action adopted or proposed by government
or organization. So, environmental policy is any action deliberately taken to manage human
activities with a view to prevent, reduce, or mitigate harmful effects on nature and natural
resources , ensuring that man-made changes to the environment do not have harmful effects on
humans.
Environment policy deals with different environmental problems and issues. The problems on
water, air, pollution, waste management, ecosystem, biodiversity protection, protection of natural
resources, wildlife and endangered species. Relatively environmental policy also deals with
communication and public welfare. Environment policy usually make commitments to
decreasing pollution and waste, to using of energy and resources efficiently, and to minimizing
the environmental effects on habitats and biodiversity, new developments, and of the extraction
of raw materials. Article 7 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights (1948-66) states that ‘All
people have a responsibility to protect the air, water and soil of the earth for the sake of present
inhabitants and future generations,’
In the policy level, government has to focus on two conflicting roles to play, promoter of
economic development and protector of environmental quality. Economic development interests
tend to have priority on the agenda of most developing countries, creating obstacles to the
implementation of environmental protection policies. This trend can be reversed by introducing
environmental protection concerns into the mainstream development agenda by adapting suitable
environmental policies. Generally, environmental policies are governed by the following
principles.

Sustainable development
The concept of sustainable development as used today dates back to the early 1980s. Of all the
definitions proposed since then, the definition formulated by the World Commission on
Environment and Development (WCED) in their report, our common future, also known as the
‘‘Brundtland report’’, still seems to be the most widely known and accepted: ‘‘Development that
meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to
meet their needs and aspirations’’ .

• Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs while
preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also
for future generations. Sustainable development ties together concern for the carrying
capacity of natural systems with the social challenges facing humanity. As early as the
1970s "sustainability" was employed to describe an economy "in equilibrium with basic
ecological support systems."

.According to Hasna, sustainability is a process which tells of a development of all aspects of


human life affecting sustenance. It means resolving the conflict between the various competing
goals, and involves the simultaneous pursuit of economic prosperity, environmental quality and
social equity famously known as three dimensions

Environmental sustainability
Environmental sustainability is the process of making sure current processes of interaction with
the environment are pursued with the idea of keeping the environment as pristine as naturally
possible based on ideal-seeking behavior..
An "unsustainable situation" occurs when natural capital (the sum total of nature's resources) is
used up faster than it can be replenished. Sustainability requires that human activity only uses
nature's resources at a rate at which they can be replenished naturally. Inherently the concept of
sustainable development is intertwined with the concept of carrying capacity.. Theoretically, the
long-term result of environmental degradation is the inability to sustain human life. Such
degradation on a global scale could imply extinction for humanity.

Consumption of renewable resources State of environment Sustainability

More than nature's ability to replenish Environmental degradation Not sustainable

Equal to nature's ability to replenish Environmental equilibrium Steady state economy

Less than nature's ability to replenish Environmental renewal Environmentally sustainable

The sustainable development debate is based on the assumption that societies need to manage
three types of capital (economic, social, and natural), which may be non-substitutable and whose
consumption might be irreversible. Daly (1991), for example, points to the fact that natural
capital can not necessarily be substituted by economic capital. While it is possible that we can
find ways to replace some natural resources, it is much more unlikely that they will ever be able
to replace eco-system services, such as the protection provided by the ozone layer, or the climate
stabilizing function of the Amazonian forest. In fact natural capital, social capital and economic
capital are often complementarities. A further obstacle to substitutability lies also in the multi-
functionality of many natural resources. Forests, for example, do not only provide the raw
material for paper (which can be substituted quite easily), but they also maintain biodiversity,
regulate water flow, and absorb CO2. Another problem of natural and social capital deterioration
lies in their partial irreversibility. The loss in biodiversity, for example, is often definite. The
same can be true for cultural diversity. For example with globalization advancing quickly the
number of indigenous languages is dropping at alarming rates. Moreover, the depletion of natural
and social capital may have non-linear consequences. Consumption of natural and social capital
may have no observable impact until a certain threshold is reached. A lake can, for example,
absorb nutrients for a long time while actually increasing its productivity. However, once a
certain level of algae is reached lack of oxygen causes the lake’s ecosystem to break down all of
a sudden.
Development of Agenda 21
The full text of Agenda 21 was revealed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development held in Rio de Janeiro on june 14,1992, where 178 governments voted to adopt the
programme. The final text was the result of drafting, consultation and negotiation, beginning in
1989 and culminating at the two-week conference. The number 21 refers to an agenda for the
21st century. It may also refer to the number on the UN's agenda at this particular summit.There
are 40 chapters in the Agenda 21, divided into four main sections
Section I: Social and Economic Dimensions
Includes combating poverty, changing consumption patterns, population and demographic
dynamics, promoting health, promoting sustainable settlement patterns and integrating
environment and development into decision-making.
Section II: Conservation and Management of Resources for Development
Includes atmospheric protection, combating deforestation, protecting fragile environments,
conservation of biological diversity biodiversity, and control pollution.
Section III: Strengthening the Role of Major Groups
Includes the roles of children and youth, women, NGOs, local authorities, business and workers.
Section IV: Means of Implementation
Implementations includes science, technology transfer, education, international institutions and
mechanisms and financial mechanisms.
Local Agenda 21
The implementation of Agenda 21 was intended to involve action at international, national,
regional and local levels. Some national and state governments have legislated or advised that
local authorities take steps to implement the plan locally, as recommended in Chapter 28 of the
document. Such programmes are often known as 'Local Agenda 21'

Decentralization
Idea that governments could play a major role in environmental protection took hold in the
1960s and 1970s with growing pressure from environmental groups, first in industrialized
countries and then in the developing world (Desai, 1992; Viola, 1992). At that time, economic
development appeared to be one of the main villains of environmental quality. Facing public
outcry, governments introduced new environmental laws and policies and created specialized
agencies to implement them. These agencies, which often acted by policing and penalizing
environmental offenders, were frequently blamed for blocking economic development and
interfering with privacy and private property rights (Anderson & Leal, 1992).
In the 1980s however, the concept of sustainable development challenged the idea that
environmental protection and economic development were incompatible. This concept holds that
economic development and environmental protection can go hand in hand (UN, 1987). Thus,
quite optimistically, governmental and private development actors began to think about how to
integrate both objectives. Since then, numerous policies, procedures, and projects have focused
on sustainable development. Although today it is difficult for countries, regions, and localities to
consider any development action without also considering its environmental consequences, and
vice-versa, the fields continue to exist independently (Brandon & Brandon, 1992).
Government bureaucracies typically assign these two responsibilities to different agencies or
departments. As a result, environmental and developmental agencies interact in government
policies, programs, and projects only when procedural steps are established, such as a
requirement that an environmental agency analyze the impact of or approve development
projects. Even when discourses are in tune, as in the case of the typical sustainable development,
agencies can disagree on everything from the nature and design of interventions to who
implements them. Compatibility between development and environmental goals continues to be
mostly a theoretical dream. The distribution of government responsibilities and resources
fundamentally shapes the interaction between development and environmental goals.
Decentralization has been at the core of the development and governance debates in developing
countries since the 1970s. These debates have focused on which levels of government should be
involved in development, as well as to what extent. There are various ways for decentralizing
governmental responsibilities. The most common approaches are deconcentration,
delegation, devolution, and privatization (Rondinelli, 1981).
Deconcentration implies the transfer of tasks in a government agency from central offices
(generally located in the capital) to offices located closer to the served population. These local
offices are not politically independent or accountable to the local population but depend on the
central government for budgets, instructions, and decision making. Delegation, in contrast,
involves decentralizing tasks from the central government to other public organizations such as
special function agencies or public corporations. Devolution entails the complete transfer of
decisions regarding certain public responsibilities from a central government to a lower level
government. Devolution for many authors captures the real spirit of decentralization, which is
the transfer of authority to public institutions closer to the population (Parry, 1997). Finally,
privatization, considered one form of decentralization by some authors, transfers certain public
services from public to private organizations(Manor, 1999).
Decentralization has become a buzzword in development discourse––one that rhymes with
democracy and efficiency. Despite good intentions however, these benefits often fail to
materialize (Ayee, 1994; Parry, 1997). Instead of generating more anticipatory local
government, decentralization can simply allow local elites to control services and resources,
creating a local autocracy. Instead of becoming more efficient through the use of local
knowledge, services decline in quality owing to a lack of local institutional and technical
capacity to perform the new tasks. To produce the benefits that theory predicts, decentralization
must do more than simply the transfer of authority and responsibility from one institution to
another. The new institutions must develop the professional capacity, financial resources, and
political support to deliver the services effectively. National politicians and bureaucrats, afraid of
losing power, can sabotage decentralization. Moreover, some authors suggest that central
governments must play fundamental roles even when they decentralize power (Tendler, 1997).
These roles range from developing the institutional capacity of local governments to monitoring
and evaluating decentralized activities. Central governments must also prepare for this new role.
Thus decentralization requires capacity building and political negotiation at all levels of
government (Rondinelli & Nellis, 1986). In developing countries, government policies tend to be
viewed as highly centralized (Bennet, 1990; Manor, 1999; Morell & Poznanski, 1985; Rondinelli
& Cheema, 1983). One agency or department is responsible for implementing a given policy and
becomes jealous if other agencies interfere with its turf. Excessive centralization has been
blamed for many policy

Public Participation
.
Public participation, participatory approaches and participatory democracy are commonly
referred to in many current political programmes and notably those dealing with the concept of
sustainable development. The Aarhus Convention on access to information, public
participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters requires
explicitly that public participation should be an integral part of environmental
decision-making (UNECE, 1998).
There are at least two main arguments for public participation (Primmer and Kyllo¨ nen, in press;
Renn et al., 1995). The first claims that public participation leads to stronger democracy
(Barber,1984; Saward, 1998; Elster,1998). Behind this idea is the notion that direct public
participation incorporates the values of individual citizens and stakeholders into decision-making
more directly and more fairly. Consequently, this is claimed to strengthen the democratic
legitimacy of decisions because they would reflect better the values and interests of individual
citizens and stakeholders. (Saward, 1998; Webler et al., 1995).
The second line of argumentation emphasizes the informational quality of decisions (OECD,
2001b). Participation is argued to generate new relevant information for the decision-makers. For
example, Webler et al. (1995) argue that the competence of the final decision is greater
when local knowledge is included and when expert knowledge is publicly examined.

Recent decades have seen a dramatic increase in public participation in environmental decision-
making conducted by government agencies. This increase has been driven both by citizens who
demand a greater role in shaping the decisions that affect their well-being, and by agencies that
recognize the benefits of involving citizens in their decision making processes. It is now widely
believed that members of the public should participate in environmental-decision making
(Webler et al., 2001), and there are many laws, regulations, and policies that call for public
participation in environmental decision-making (ELI, 1999). Evidence
suggests that involving stakeholders results in better quality
decisions (Beierle and Cayford, 2002). How can environmental managers best involve citizens
in decision-making? The forms and processes of public participation in environmental decision-
making by government agencies are highly variable.

The Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy


The philosophy of sufficiency economy has been developed and advocated for the past three
decades by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej based on HM's accumulative experiences in
rural development. After the economic crisis in 1997, His Majesty reiterated and expanded on
the philosophy in numerous remarks during 1997 and 1998. The philosophy stresses the
Buddhist principle of the "middle path" as a guiding principle for people at all levels in pursuing
their livelihood.'
The emphasis of the philosophy is on the term "sufficiency." According to His Majesty,
sufficiency means: "moderation, reasonableness, and the need for selfimmunity 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 fiber of the nation, so that
everyone, particularly public officials, academics, businessmen at all levels, adheres first and
foremost to the principles 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."'
The philosophy of sufficiency economy includes three elements: moderation, reasonableness,
and self-awareness and requires two conditions for the philosophy to work: knowledge and
virtues.

Conlusion
Thailand is one of the leading developing countries of South East Asia and it has high
potentiality of diversity values in terms of biological, cultural, social, economical, and
environmental. Due to rapid development on economic activities in Thailand from last two
decades, environmental potentiality is diminishing. To prevent future disastert results, the
concrete environmental policy should be formulated. For this case, sustainable development
approach which means “ a development that meets the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” will be the best
approach to deal all environmental problems.
In recent years, the depletion of natural resources and attempt to move to sustainable
development has been a major concern policy level of Thailand The main concept of agenda 21,
which is outcome from the earth summit in Rio de Janeiro Brazil 1992 is sustainable
development. Local agenda 21 can be implemented to achieve sustainable development in
Thailand .Bottom up approach and Polluted pay principle are the main tools that use to manage
pollution in concept think globally and act locally.
Sustainable development in Thailand is based from the philosophy of sufficiency economy has
been developed and advocated for the past three decades by His Majesty King Bhumibol
Adulyadej based on HM's accumulative experiences in rural development. After the economic
crisis in 1997, His Majesty reiterated and expanded on the philosophy in numerous remarks
during 1997 and 1998. The philosophy stresses the Buddhist principle of the "middle path" as a
guiding principle for people at all levels in pursuing their livelihood. It is important to distinguish
the philosophy of sufficiency economy as a philosophy on one hand, and as a basis for policy-
making on the other.
..

. Thailand is also famous for its high biodiversity but Flora and fauna of Thailand are
rapidly diminishing due to multiple human activities. To handle these kinds of problems, the
complete national policies and strategies of sustainable use of natural resources should be
developed. A sustainable policy of natural resources does not require a complete ban on the
consumption, but involves wise economic uses so that the extraction of resources must not
jeopardize the biodiversity of the ecosystem. However, the politically acceptance polices for
sustainability would be ecologically ineffective while ecologically meaningful polices remain
politically impossible. Even though this is a non-ending debate of stake holders, the policy
makers should give high priority on environmental issues rather than economical issues
.Economic loss can be recovered within short period of time but environmental loss cannot be
recovered in easy manner.

So,environmental policy of sustainable development and sufficiency economy is the best


approach of sustaianable development of Thailand.