Thai province brainstorms about green and inclusive growth
More than twenty agencies came together May 31 in Nan Province to brainstorm how they could strike a better balance in agricultural development over the next 10 years.
In light of the coming of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the vision of 'green growth' set forth in Thailand's 11th National Development Plan, attendees discussed four plausible scenarios between two extremes: 1) a large-scale commercial agriculture for exporting and 2) a small-scale, economically viable, and environmentally-sustainable option.
"There are two key issues to address. How can we formulate the Nan provincial agenda based on what we learned today and how can we strengthen coordination in pushing this issues forward?" said Mr. Boonyong Wongtrimid, Advisor to Nan Civil Society Network.
Agriculture is the main source of income in Nan, constituting 40% of its gross provincial product. Because of its strong agricultural base, poverty in Nan is about 1% households. But overproduction of certain crops such as maize and rubber has decreased Nan's watersheds, while flash floods and landslides are becoming more and more frequent.
Using agricultural lands for commercial agriculture also rid this one self-sustain province of its food security. Most of its food products have to be imported in from other provinces. The number of people with respiratory diseases has been on the rise due to the heavy use of pesticides.
Led by the Provincial Agricultural Office and attended by 200 government officials, local government officers, and members of civil society, attendees tackled essential environmental concerns, including options to equate environmental and health security with income generation. Several efforts have been started in and outside of Nan to help address the trade-offs.
The forum's scenario building process is a tool for an information-based and participatory decision making and planning process. It is adopted from the Sub-Global Assessment Framework, which explains the links between 'drivers of changes' and their effects (positive and negative) to the ecosystem and human-well-being. Jointly building and exploring scenarios is one way of carrying out meaningful development dialogues. It helps participants better understand alternative perspectives.
"The workshop means a great deal for us. It is the starting point for all agencies to learn together about has been happening and what could be future plausible scenarios," said Ms. Payom Wuttisawat from the Nan Provincial Agricultural Office.
The forum was a culmination of a consultative process which began 2010 as part of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) supported Poverty-Environment Initiative or (PEI), facilitated by the Nan Provincial Administrative Organisation and the Thailand Environment Institute.
PEI in Thailand is hosted by the Ministry of Interior and focuses on strengthening development planning processes at the provincial and local levels to be more green and inclusive, by building capacity and supporting participatory planning process. PEI also works in Khon Kaen and Samut Songkram Provinces.