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2018 Challenges

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Disability and Social Inclusion

12 Insights about people with disability

  1. About 1 billion people or 15% of the world's population lives with some form of disability, of whom 200 million or 2-4% experience significant difficulties in functioning. This global estimate for disability is on the rise due to population ageing and the rapid spread of chronic diseases. (World Health Organization - World Report on Disability)

  2. According to the National Office for Empowerment of Persons with Disability’s survey, there are approximately 1,800,000 registered Thai nationals with disability or about 2.72% of all Thai population in 2017. 

  3. Only 1 in 4 disabled Thai people have jobs, in which a majority of them work in the field of agriculture, forest, and fisheries. 

  4. More than half of Thai people with disability don’t have access to quality education. Fewer than 50,000 people have higher education than high school degree. 

  5. 5.One of the reasons given for problem accessing education is the insufficient number of schools that can accept people with disability and the lack of facilities and skilled teacher. 

  6. Government had issued Person with Disabilities Employment Act which stated that companies or agencies shall employ persons with disabilities to work in the position suitable for them in proper proportions to the entire number of the employees in their work space (100 employees per 1 disable ) and they can also be exempt for tax in respect of the expenditure on hiring and facilities for the disabilities, or if employer do not want to employ persons with disabilities, they shall send money to the Fund for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. It turns out that business sector chooses to send money to the Fund at a total of more than 2,000 million baht each year instead of hiring. This clearly shows the failure in empowering employment for person with disabilities. 

  7. The data and statistic on population of person with disabilities in Thailand does not actually match with reality. There are still many disabled people whom haven’t officially registeredbecause of poor accessibility to district welfare offices and hospitals and also a lack of information about registration, especially in rural areas. This uncertainty in number of population makes it difficult for government to plan out the development and manage the budget properly. 

  8. Many people with disabilities aren’t able to take full advantage of the laws and are sometimes exploited because they are unaware of their rights and social benefits. 

  9. Promoting quality education and creating employment for people with disabilities as well as ensure their participatory will encourage their self-esteem, make them feel rather useful not a burden and shame to society. 

  10. Thailand is a society of giving alms, a lot of Thai people prefer to give money to disabled beggars or make donation to charities. Though the activities might be regarded as good social characteristic, it can also prevent persons with disabilities from joining society equally. 

  11. Thai people still have a perception of person with disabilities as a person who need help, not as part of the inclusive society, although there are many who are able to take care of themselves as well as contribute to society and environment. 

  12. Thailand lacks infrastructure, facilities, public spaces, etc. that are safe and accessible to person with disabilities, which maybe preventing them from leaving their homes, go travelling, or working. They still have to cross the road by using the overpass, going on the bus with high floor, or even climbing the stairs to get to the BTS because they cannot access to elevator, even though the government has recently forced to build elevators in every stations. 



                  Disability is one of three group of people which are at the most risk of being left behind - especially on poverty (along with single women and the elderly) The Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 explicitly reference persons with disabilities in a variety of areas such as education, employment, accessible cities, reducing inequalities and disaggregation of data. The Agenda calls for empowering vulnerable people, including persons with disabilities, in order to ensure that we live no one behind. However, more than 80 percent of persons with disabilities still live in poverty which means poverty eradication cannot take place without a strong focus on empowering persons with disabilities as Word Health Organization firmly stated that we all must take a step forward to create enabling environment, develop rehabilitation and support services, ensure adequate social protection, create inclusive policies and enforce standards and legislation for the benefit of people with disabilities and the wider community.

 

To kickstart your idea, a few opportunities you may have taken on includes;

→ How might we create inclusive healthcare, welfare, and protection system for all?

  • Implement nationally appropriate protection systems for vulnerable group

  • Accessibility and affordability of essential health services, health insurance, financial risk protection, medicines and vaccines for all

  • Application of health technology & innovation 

  • Database to serve social benefits and welfare equality for people with disabilities

 

How might we create inclusive learning and vocational training for decent employment?

  • Equal access to all levels of education

  • Create sustainable education and training program for better career opportunity

 

How might we create inclusive facility and environment of quality education for all?

  • Access to electricity, internet, computers, infrastructure adapted for people with special needs (eg. basic drinking water, sanitation facilities, handwashing facilities)

  • Create inclusive education environment with right mindset from teachers and friends.

 

How might we provide decent work with equal pay for work of equal value?

 

How might we create opportunities to ensure participatory of all in public institutions and decision-making process? 

  • Participatory program design to crowdsource ideas for development 

  • Create civic engagement spaces for vulnerable and under-represented groups

 

How might we create an inclusive community for all? 

  • Implement universal design for green, affordable and safe public space 

  • Inclusive commuting and tourism

  • Transform abandoned spaces to be safe and inclusive public spaces

 

How might we raise awareness and foster positive behavior to treat people with disabilities as equals?

 

How might we create seamless and worry-free journey for disabilities and their family in travel experiences? 

  • Equipment or process invented to assist the disabled throughout the whole journey  

 

How might we utilize appropriate technology for better quality of life of the vulnerable?

Sustainable Tourism

                  Tourism has proven to be one of the fastest-growing sectors and a major contributor to World’s economy. It is a vital factor to job and wealth creation, economic growth, and poverty mitigation. In Thailand, travel and tourism industry is now the country’s biggest earner of foreign exchange and a major source of employment generated 1.64 trillion in business and employed roughly 4.2 million people, although the jobs created are often poorly paid with low career status and job security.  With sea, sand, sun, mountain, tradition, culture, savoury food, low service cost, aviation linkage and visa-free/visa-on-arrival policy for ease of access, Thailand became the 9th-most-visited country in 2016 with the record of 32.6 million international tourist arrival, having Bangkok as a top most destination city of the world. Unfortunately, while our reputation for hospitality and friendliness is legendary, Thailand placed 118 out of 136 nations in Safety and Security category in World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017. The report also pointed to the low reliability of police services and incidents of terrorism. Since more people are travelling both internationally and domestically each year, it has put the country’s culture, infrastructure, and environment under strain with greenhouse gas emission, economic leakages, natural resource damages, and impact on local communities and cultural assets. A well-designed tourism - meaning effective planning, development, management, and marketing - as well as educating tourist and local community are the keys to optimise positive impact and reduce the negatives. Sustainable tourism, defined by UNWTO, is "Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities." It is now the time for us to preserve our natural resource and cultural heritage, empower communities, generate trade opportunities and foster peace and intercultural understanding.

 

Tourism and environment 

                    As all good thing comes with price tag, the growing of tourism undoubtedly has a direct impact on the environment and natural resource. The very scenery that attracts all these tourists has also been disrupted by them, or tour operators and authorities who turn blind eyes to those who violate environmental regulations. With a mass tourism flogging into Thailand, hotels and resorts are increased to meet the demand of traveler in order to create more revenue. However, nature - especially islands, have a very fragile ecosystems that simply cannot handle so many people, pollution from boats and beachfront hotels, not to mention the national park areas like Koh Samet or Koh Lipe, which supposedly protected, have suffered from the encroachment of resorts. The overcrowding together with rising sea temperature from global warming have caused severe damage to coral reefs and the dip in bigger marine creatures like mantas and whale sharks in Koh Tao and the Andaman Sea, one of the world’s most famous diving regions, resulting in government closing off some islands and tons of jobs are at stake. Similar thing happens on the land; disposable waste such as toilet paper can be found on along the trekking route, cars trespassing preserved forest, chemical from personal care products such as soap and toothpaste polluting the water source, and many more. Also, with unsustainable wildlife tourism, animals and their natural habitats are disturbed and the demand in wildlife products, trophy hunting, and poaching increased. The price of legal wildlife products can be as high as

  • 1 kg of tiger bone: 1000 - 1,500 USD

  • 1kg worked Ivory: 5,000 USD

  • Tiger pelt: 2,000 USD

  • 1 kg of pangolin: 320 US

  • A live baby elephant: 30,000 USD

                    All of these certainly have a negative effect on flora and fauna as more and more species become endangered. The World Bank’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index 2017 ranked Thailand 7 out of 136 countries in terms of “Natural Resources” but 122 out of 136 in terms of “Environmental Sustainability” with a very high level of Particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) concentration and Threatened species, and low Stringency of environmental regulations. The number shows that the prospect of biodiversity in Thailand is verymuch in crisis and the present conservation efforts have not been able to hold back the alarming rate of biodiversity. We need to realise the problem and take a step toward sustainable management of tourism so that our natural resource is used more efficiently and its beauty still remains.           

 

Tourism community and cultural heritage 

                  Tourism have contributed to Thailand’s economic growth and help improved the conditions of many hostcommunities with jobs and better facilities. However, it also brings a change in characteristic and identity to the community as, though tourists are demanding “local” product/experience, it becomes necessity that local community must develop or “stage” new product, service, experience and promotion to appeal to the tourist from various background and nationality. Moreover, a majority of tourism business have moved from being run locally to being owned by outsider or even international companies which mean that the spending doesn’t actually go back to the local community. Also, it has occurred that, by bringing in tourist to community, sometimes outsiders are disturbing the usual life of the local, intentionally or unintentionally.  For these reason, the community’s important cultural assets, especially their local wisdom are lost. UNWTO has stated that for the sustainable tourism development to happen, “investment can be mobilized domestically from public and private sources, but it also needs to protect the most valuable natural and cultural assets, while respecting local communities’ rights and aspirations. Recognizing that tourism is based on human interaction between visitors and host communities, creating a link that can promote intercultural understanding and tolerance, encourage mutual respect among people and thus contribute to a culture of peace in a framework of safety and security.”


Tourism and inclusive infrastructure

                    During the Vietnam War-era, Thailand was regarded as a bulwark country against the communist for the U.S. Allies. US money were putting into the infrastructure development such as road and railway as well as a demand in “Western Comfort” hotel for the convenience of the American GI. Since then, Thailand became a hub of airlines and hotels. The current success in bringing in a huge number of tourism, however, has put cities and infrastructure for handling the influx under pressure. According to World Bank’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index, Thailand’s rank in Ground and port infrastructure is declining from 62nd in 2013 to 72nd in 2017 with low ground transport efficiency, meaning the country now lags behind the expansion of the industry, which leads to tourist concentration in a few areas of Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Accelerating implementing of infrastructure investments, enhancing digital utilization and strengthening support for better tourism-related skills would be the key to spread out the current concentration. Bottlenecks are unlocking new destination with local communities’ involvement and their legacies along with cultural and natural heritage are still intact. 

Furthermore, while World population is projected to grow from 6.9 billion in 2010 to 8.3 billion by 2030, the elderly is expected to grow faster than other age groups, sharing approximately 16% of all age band (UNDESA). Similarly, Thailand’s Ministry of Social Development and Human Security revealed that, by 2030, people over 60 years old will make up 20% of the population while people ages 65 and above will account for 14%. The research also said that most Boomer (99%) will take at least one leisure trip in 2017, with an average of five or more trips expected throughout the year (AARP’s Travel Research: 2017 Travel trends). These data indicate a rising population of elderly traveler in which the proper infrastructure is needed to a cope with this shift in demographics to facilitate their ease of travelling. 

 

To kickstart your idea, a few opportunities you may have taken on includes;

How might sustainable tourism reduce poverty and create income equality?

 

What if we could enjoy trekking and diving while protecting biodiversity and ecosystem?

  • Environmental-friendly travelling lifestyle

  • End poaching and trafficking of protected species (eg; animal, flora and fauna, trees)

  • Address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products

 

How might we create sustainable tourism based on actual needs of local communities?

  • Access to relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature

  • Create better understanding for tourists about ethical options and local culture before coming 

  • Understanding local practices before designing & experiencing local tourism

  • Encourage sufficiency mindset to protect and preserve environment, culture, and ways of living of local people

 

How might we empower local community to pursue sustainable livelihood as well as enhance global support?

  • Empower local community to have a sense of belonging, capacity and mindset to preserve their cultural and natural heritage in order to create more opportunities regarding jobs, cultures, heritage and new sustainable way of living

 

How might we ensure participatory of local community and stakeholders in development process within the tourism ecosystem?

  • Collaboration between local communities, authorities and other stakeholders without conflict.

 

 

What if we could measure the social impact of sustainable tourism in order to ensure better livelihood for the locals? 

Resources:

1. Will Baxter, Nicholas Grossman, Nina Wegner,  A Call to Action: Thailand and the Sustainable Development Goals.

2. Editions Dider Millet, Thailand Sustainable Business Guide: How to future proof your business in the name of better world.

3. The Thailand Sustainable Development Foundation and Editions Didier Millet, Thailand Sustainable Development  

    Sourcebook, 2nd Edition

4. Mastercard, Global Destination Cities Index 2016. 

5. World Economic Forum, The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017 

6. UNWTO & UNDP, Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals - Journey to 2030

7. World Tourism Organisation, 2017 Annual Report

8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Tourism_rankings

9. AARP, Travel Research 2017 Travel Trends- AARP

10. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/03/southeast-asia-closes-island-beaches-to-recover-from-climate-change-and-  

    tourism

Food Consumption and Production

                    Achieving economic growth and sustainable development requires us to reduce our ecological footprint by changing the way we produce and consume goods and resources. It is undeniable that Thailand has played an important role in the world’s food and agriculture in terms of both consuming and producing. We have contributed to approximately a third of the world’s stock of rice and are one of the leading exporters of rice, cassava, chicken, eggs, tropical fruits and frozen seafood. Though looking at the macro level, Thailand may have a surplus of food. However, sufficient affordable and nutritious food at the household level, particularly for low-income people, is hardly accessible. Efficient management of our shared natural resources and the way we dispose waste and pollutants is a critical challenge which more efforts must be made to help with food security and shift our economies to be more resource efficient. To address the current patterns of food consumption and production, many of the issues must be taken into consideration.

On Agriculture

                    Did you know that Thailand’s agriculture sector employs almost 40% of the country’s workforce and provides livelihoods for roughly 25 million people? 

                    Despite the above fact, Thailand’s farmers still make up the poorest population in the country. Farmers are mostly small-scale who either landless or own land titles but have taken up contract farming with conglomerates, thus have no rights in pricing their productivity. They are even falling into deeper debt because of the over-reliance on inputs such as chemical fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and hybrid seeds to fulfill the obligation to produce a certain amount and type of crop. Less than 0.2% of all arable land in Thailand is under organic cultivation and only 0.15% of all farming households were certified organic in 2011. It is true that this unsustainable and monoculture practice have made Thailand a major agriculture exporter, however, it is also a major contributor that create a harmful effect on the environment. Greenhouse gases like CO2, Methane, and nitrous oxide are emitted causing climate change, water has been polluted and groundwater are used faster than it can replenish. Landscape has suffered severe side effects in the form of soil erosion, deforestation, land degradation, pollutions and a loss of genetic resources. Farmers themselves also suffer from health issues because of the exposure to chemicals. This ecological, economic, and social imbalance will inevitably affect the capability to produce food for us and generations to come. Taking a local approach and adapting sustainable systems to local environments for precise, region appropriate food production is necessary to ensure the global food security. 

 

On Food loss and food waste

                    Every year, of all the food produced for human consumption, around 1,300 million tons or ⅓of it is loss or wasted while one of every eight people in the world still have nothing to eat (UNFAO). Thailand - particularly in Bangkok and Metropolitan area has an increasing amount of solid waste exceeding 26.77 million tons, which 64% is food waste whether from agriculture, restaurant, market, or household. (Thailand Department of Environmental Quality, 2013) These facts not only represent a waste of land, labour, water, energy, and other resources that went into producing the uneaten food, but also a missed of opportunity for the economy and food security as well as pollution and greenhouse gases emitted from the landfill. Food loss and food waste can happen during any process in demand and supply chain - from growing, harvesting, transporting, to market and to consumer. What can be done to address this challenge? 

 

On consumer behavior and nutrition

                    Apart from wasteful consumption, inappropriate consumer behavior may also affect in malnutrition. The research shows that Thai people consume more of processed food, sugar, and soft drinks. According to Thailand Ministry of Health, Thai citizen consumes 30 kilograms of sugar per year, which amounts over three times the maximum recommended intake of 25,000 milligrams a day, not to mention the sugar-laced syrups, corn syrup and condensed milks. Parents also have less time to prepare meals at home and are relying more on fast food options and convenience stores like 7-eleven to feed themselves and their kids, which what’s on the offer is far from nutritious. Thai dishes aren’t all that healthy either as most are fried and heavy on oil. Fish sauce, shrimp paste and curry paste are all high in sodium. Half cup of coconut milk contains over 200 calories and more than a day’s recommended allowance of saturated fat. The lack of balance diet means that children aren’t getting the nutrients they need to fully develop and adults are having a higher chance in health failure, especially overweight and diabetes. 

                  

On plastic culture and management 

  • 61 million Styrofoam boxes used by Thai per day

  • 3.9 billion plastic bottles of water consumed by Thai per year

  • Thailand produced up to 6.094 million tons of plastic in 2015 (Plastic Waste Management Plan 2017-2021)

  • About 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans every year, 60% of which comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. 

                    These facts actually come at no surprise, as over the past decades, plastic waste has increased by 12% every year. Despite knowing so, the proper management of plastic waste in Thailand is still far from the global standard, resulting in land, air and water contamination and over 1.03 million tons of plastic debris sinking to the bottom of the ocean along the country’s coastlines, according to a study published in Science Magazine in 2015.

                  One of the major distributor of plastic is undeniably from unsustainable practices at convenient store, supermarket, and take-away fast food as it is almost an automatic habit for both stores and consumers to must have food packed with plastic or Styrofoam containers, encasing stuffs with several layers of plastic bags, or needing an unnecessary extra straws and single-use cutlery. 

                  Producing and consuming behavior as well as approach and methodology to manage this waste need to be addressed for the sustainable development. Steps must be taken to find way to make people care and develop sustainability-focused mindsets to alter current consumption patterns. Proper management of plastic at all levels is also critical for the future of Thailand. 

 

On Fisheries

                    Thailand as the country with vast access to the ocean through the coastal area of Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, the country’s fishing industry is proven to be one of the ten largest in the world. Abundant of biodiversity of aquatic animal and coral reefs were found and taken advantage of for many decades. However, with a rapid extension of demand from domestic consuming to marine capture fisheries for the global market, without proper control, 43% of fish stocks have collapsed, according to “Ocean Health Index.” Overfishing and destructive fishing method such as bottom trawling, bycatch, the use of poison and explosives and ghost fishing has not only over-exploited the species but also destroy many coral reefs - the world’s second-most productive ecosystems after rainforests - and substantially reduce coral cover. The knowledge and technology in fishing practice - logistic management in particular, especially for small-scale fishermen, are still a challenge to tackle.      

 

To kickstart your idea, a few opportunities you may have taken on includes;

 How might we create universal accessibility to food and nutrition?

  • Sustainable and toxic free food processing

  • Accessibility to good nutritious food

 

→ How might we increase productivity and income of local food producers?

  • Create sustainable model and competitive advantage for small scale farmers & fisheries

  • Fair value distribution & transparency in supply chain to maximize profits for farmers

  • Increase productivity through innovative tech, knowledge, skills and promotion

  • Economic benefits from sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture, and tourism

  • Sustainable fishing practice & logistics management to increase stock life and reduce waste using integrating technology and natural reservation methods

 

What if food commodity market and policy support information is available and accessible for all?

  • Ensure farmers & fisheries can access to real time market information, supply & demand information, and productivity forecasting

  • Strengthen farmer network to increase bargaining power

  • Support small scale fishermen to access information, market, legal support, policies, framework, protection, and more

 

How might we better manage relationship between food producer and consumer to deliver the best value for all?

  • Demand chain management to reduce food loss

 

How might we optimize productivity to enhance agriculture resilience?

  • Improve local traditional plants resilience and adaptation to climate change

  • Disseminate technology and tools to bridge the gap between research & implementation

  • Integrate local wisdom in agriculture and production practice

 

How might we create behavioural change among producers and consumers to be environmentally responsible?

  • Encourage community to keep corporations accountable on environmental acts

  • Collaboration for better natural resources management within our local community

  • Implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate (community collaboration: temple, school houses, hospital, etc.)

  • Responsible management to minimize the impact of chemical and waste disposal on the environment 

 

How might we adopt local wisdom and modern technology to enhance sustainable fishing methodologies and practices?

  • Reduce extinction of species and reserve marine ecosystem 

  • Mainstream information and standards of sustainable fishing and tourism

 

How might we create awareness and understanding of food consumption lifestyle?

  • Encourage food sharing among local neighborhood

  • New approach on self-sustain urban gardening

  • Change consumer mindset and behavior towards healthy lifestyle

  • Discourage wasteful consumption and production

  • Reduce plastic consumption and wasteful packaging 

  • Reduce negative impact of fast food industry

  • Educate to change consumer behavior to use organic and seasonal products

  • Encourage farmers with income substitute or additional incentives to change from chemical to organic farming

  • Create new consumption and production mindset and behaviour to reduce food waste

  • Recreate production and supply chain management to reduce food loss

Resources:

1. Will Baxter, Nicholas Grossman, Nina Wegner,  A Call to Action: Thailand and the Sustainable Development Goals.

2. Editions Dider Millet, Thailand Sustainable Business Guide: How to future proof your business in the name of better world.

3. The Thailand Sustainable Development Foundation and Editions Didier Millet, Thailand Sustainable Development  

    Sourcebook, 2nd Edition

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