Sara Ghaffari Nik
March 17, 2010
Country Report- Thailand
The kingdom of Thailand was formed in the mid 14th century and it was recognized as
“Siam” till 1939. Over the past three decades, Thailand has gone under a lot of industrial and
urbanization development. The economy of Thailand has been rising by exportation of its
products such as jewelries and crops. In addition to its economic and industrial growth, the
population has been arising. Today, Thailand’s population is 60 million (Simachaya 2009) and a
population density of 122 people per square km (Earthtrends 2006). According to the last
census (2000) in CIA Fact Book, the majority, 94.7% of people are Buddhist and 4.6 % Muslim.
Moreover, 75% of the population has an ethnicity of Thai, 14% Chinese, and 3 % Malay (CIA
The formation of constitutional monarchy began in 1932 as a result of revolution. The
revolution put an end to absolute monarchy and introduced the system of constitutional
monarchy. Currently, Bhumibol Adulyadeji is the king of Thailand since 1946 (CIA 2010). The
king is more of a symbol of the nation, and thereby has very little power. However, as the Head
of State, the King is the Head of Armed forces and House of Chakri, the ruling house of Thailand
found by Buddha. In addition, the King has the power to grant pardons (Pike 2005).
Furthermore, the government consists of judicial, executive, and legislative branch.
Thailand is located in Southeastern part of Asia ad borders with Andaman Sea and Gulf
of Thailand, and southeast of Burma. Thailand has an
area of 513,000 km square (Simachaya 2009). It has
76 provinces and the capital is Bangkok. Bangkok is
the most populated area in Thailand. It has central
plain, Khorat Plateau in the east, and mountains
range in the west (CIA 2010). Some of its important
rivers are the Chao Phraya and Tha Chin. Thailand has
a tropical climate (“Thailand” 2010).
Millennium Development Goals Progress: (UNDP 2004)
Goal 1: Thailand has already achieved the goal of bring poverty and hunger in half in the
period of 1990 to 2015
Goal 2: It is likely for Thailand to achieve a complete course of primary schooling by
2015. Thailand will be expanding the nine years of mandatory education to twelve
Goal 3: The goal to promote gender equality and empower women by 2015 has been
already achieved. Thailand has been able to fix gender equality in educational
opportunities. Women are receiving higher educational level and participate in both
agricultural and non-agricultural sectors.
Goal 4: Thailand is in progress of reducing the child mortality; however it is not capable
of reducing it by 2/3rd for children under five.
Goal 5: Thailand has not been capable of reduce the maternal mortality by 2/3 rd. It is
evident that highland areas, Northern provinces and 3 southernmost provinces have a
high maternal mortality rate.
Goal 6: Thailand has already achieved the targets in combat of HIV/AIDS, malaria, but
there is a potential in achievement for tuberculosis by 2015. Thai government has been
able to slow down the spread of HIV/AIDS, and has made antiretroviral (ARV) drugs
Goal 7: Thailand has achieved the goal to halve the amount of people without
sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation. However, there is a potential in
achieving targets of applying the principles of sustainability into Thai’s policies to
reverse the degradation of natural resources, and in improvement of lives of at least
100 million slum dwellers. Thailand is in the process of reducing the environmental
damages; however there are still signs of air and water pollution.
Goal 8: It is highly likely for Thailand to achieve the Develop a global partnership for
development goal. Thailand has a foreign policy called “forward engagement”, which
has helped them to communicate with its neighbors by meeting in person. Moreover,
Thailand continues to explore potential tourism and trading with its partners.
Current environmental issues:
Thailand’s economical growth due rapid industrialization, urbanization and heavy
agricultural production in the last three decades, has outpaced environmental management.
The growth has been beneficial in the development of the country; however, most of the
natural resources have been degraded, and water and air pollution are on the rise. For
example, fine particles in Bangkok’s air are below the regular WHO standards by 2.5 times
(World Bank 2010). Moreover, The Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (CAI-Asia) has been
working with Thailand for more than two decades. CAI has helped to monitor Thailand’s air
quality. Currently, Pollution Control Department is handling the 53 air quality monitoring
stations. They have helped to reduce SO2 emission in Mae Moh Basin of Thailand by the
installation of flue gas desulfurization from 150 tons/hr to less than 7 tons/hr (“Clean Air
Network Thailand” 2008). In addition, most of Thailand’s bodies of water have been polluted as
a result of industrial and domestic discharge. For example, the water quality of Tha Chin River
has been greatly affected by the process of eutrophication as a result of wastewater discharge
(Cheevaporn 2003). Thereby, the country is in the process of constructing more wastewater
plants, but the funding has been an issue for Thailand. Overall, it is estimated by World Bank
(2010) that air and water pollution costs Thailand 1.6-2.6 percent of GDP annually.
In addition, the depletion of natural resources has been a problem since the industrial
development in Thailand. Land conversions, intensified agriculture, slash and burn agriculture
has exploited natural resources. For example, as a result of deforestation, forest cover has
dropped from 53% to 25% in interval of 1961 to 1998. World Bank is working side by side with
Thailand to improve the situation (World Bank 2010).
Thailand’s environmental laws:
There are not a lot of policy and regulations for environmental protection in Thailand.
However, the country is taking the initial steps towards development (Simachaya 2009). Thai
government began to form environmental protections laws in 1971, when the pollution of Mae
Klong River caused by sugar mill wastes became a source of attention (Reutergsrdh et al. 1997).
Industrial Environmental Division enforces the laws for industrial pollution regulation, and it
was in 1973 that Thailand’s first Central Treatment Plants was formed to treat the wastewater
on Mae Klong River. Moreover, in 1975 Thailand passed its first National Environmental Quality
Act (Reutergsrdh et al. 1997). Later, Enhancement and Conservation of National Environment
Quality Act (CEQA) of 1992 was passed to promote conservation and environmental protection.
It allowed for the environmentally unstable areas to be declared as “Environmental
Conservation Zones”, thus the affected areas would receive the financial and human assistance
for protections. Therefore, as a result the government has enforced that that at least 15% of its
land area to be protected as forest, and 22% as wildlife or national parks (Tongcumpou et al.
Most of the bodies of water in Thailand are used as a discharge of domestic and
industrial wastewater due to limited source of funding and regulation (Cheevaporn 2003).
Currently, the government is making an attempt to construct 95 percent of wastewater
treatment plants in Thailand. According to Simachaya (2009) “In 2003, approximately 14 million
m3/day of wastewater generated by the population around the country was discharged to
receiving waters and the environment.” Moreover, after the Enactment of National
Environmental Quality Act of 1992, more regulation and administrative is active such as
carrying out the tariff system to fund for more constructions. In addition, Polluter Pay Principle
was introduced to create wastewater tariffs as a source of funding. However, the idea is still
new to for the government, and so it has not been widely accepted. Only, 3 out of 95 local
governments have permitted to operate wastewater tariffs (Rammont et al. 2009).
Most of the environmental NGOs in Thailand are small organizations that are scattered
throughout the country. There are many advocacy groups like the Project for Ecological
Recovery (PER), which focuses on water and energy problems. PER is most popular for its anti-
dam protests in Thailand. Moreover, there are some non-advocacy groups such as the World
Environment Center Foundation (WECF), which focuses for the most part on urban, industrial,
and health issues. There are also groups that concentrate on environmental education such as
the Green World Foundation, and those conservationist groups such as the Wildlife Fund,
Thailand (WFT) (Pednekar 1995).
Thailand is taking big steps towards development of its economy. The country is
becoming more industrialized and urbanized by the loss of its natural resources. Thailand
doesn’t have many laws or regulation for the protection of its resources. The country is
suffering from air and water pollution, and with the increasing population, the situation is very
likely to become worse. Thailand has been seeking help from the outside world to improve the
quality of its environment; however the lack of funding has made the progress slow. Thereby, it
is crucial for the nation to achieve sustainability for many generations to come.
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