30 October 2020, Bangkok - UNDP Thailand, together with Krungthai Bank, launch “Koh Tao, Better Together” crowdfunding campaign, aimed at raising 1.944 million Baht to help small tourist boat drivers on Koh Tao who have suffered of the absence of tourists due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This campaign will finance 200 local boat drivers to collect marine debris and clean the beaches on Koh Tao using a cash-for-work modality. The initiative is expected to reduce coastal environmental problems, marine debris pollution and restore the marine ecosystem.

To build forward better— for people, prosperity and the planet during COVID-19 crisis, the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN), under UNDP Thailand, collaborates with Krungthai Bank and Raks Thai Foundation to initiate a crowdfunding campaign that will mobilize financial resources to support the people most vulnerable to the ongoing economic hardship caused by COVID-19.  A group of 200 registered boat drivers were identified as the direct beneficiaries. 

As part of this effort, proceeds from the campaign will finance the boat drivers to collect marine debris and clean the beaches on Koh Tao through a short-term contract. They will each receive 3,000 Baht per month for a period of three months from October 30, 2020 to January 31, 2021.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the tourism industry throughout Thailand,  especially on Koh Tao of Surat Thani province where the income of local community, which is mainly dependent on tourism, has dwindled close to zero over the past several months,” said Mr. Renaud Meyer, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme Thailand.

“UNDP Thailand is particularly concerned for the small tourist boat drivers of the island. Our studies have shown that 90% of them have had virtually no income for the past months given the very limited number of tourists who visit the island these days,” he added.

 In addition to raising the funds for the small boat drivers, the campaign also aims to create more awareness on the conservation of coastal and marine ecosystems and the issue of marine debris which has become a global issue.

The expected outcome of this campaign is to “build forward better” for people (boat drivers and their families), prosperity (economy) and planet (biodiversity), which represent three of the five core areas of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Mr. Payong Srivanich, President of Krungthai Bank said the bank’s most important mission is driving the country’s economy along with creating business growth to fully transform into digital banking and responds to customer demands in the age of technology disruption, in compliance with environment, social, and governance (ESG) responsibilities. Krung Thai is especially grateful to be a part of the “Koh Tao, Better Together” campaign by establishing a fundraising channel through an e-donation platform with a QR code, utilized by UNDP Thailand for the first time. This system facilitates Thai citizen donors for sending the donation information automatically to the Revenue Department for tax deduction.  With the bank’s full range of fintech and digital banking services, it will support the donors with a fast, convenient, and transparent financial system. In addition, Krungthai Bank will contribute 30 percent of the targeted total funding amount for the campaign as an initial donor.

"In addition to our social programs, the bank supports entrepreneurs in Koh Tao through various measures including credit loans and them to join the “We Travel Together” initiative to promote tourism and stimulate domestic spending. For environmental conservation, we promote jobs for members of the community in cleaning and collecting trash. This creates added value by turning the trash into useful appliances such as furniture, raising funds based on good governance.”

Mr. Chaiyant Thurasakul, Mayor of Koh Tao Municipality said Koh Tao is known as one of the world’s top diving destinations. Each year, more than half a million tourists, mostly foreign, come to visit the beautiful and rich underwater ecosystem of Koh Tao. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Koh Tao’s tourism has been heavily affected. But at the same time, the marine and coastal ecosystems have improved and are ready to welcome tourists again.

“I would like to say thank you to UNDP Thailand for helping people in Koh Tao through this crowdfunding campaign. Since 2018, the BIOFIN project played a role in the development, rehabilitation, and conservation efforts on the island. This crowdfunding campaign will help small tourist boat drivers to survive the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 virus. Plans are also underway to rebuild the tourism sector while preserving the ecosystem and biodiversity.” said the Mayor of Koh Tao.

“Koh Tao, Better Together” is a kick-off biodiversity finance solution which UNDP Thailand is planning to bring to Koh Tao under the Biodiversity Finance Project (BIOFIN). It is also a demonstration of how the SDGs are being achieved at the local level.

Donors can support this campaign by scanning the Krungthai Bank's QR Code or by transferring money to the “UNDP and Krungthai Bank Rak Koh Tao” Krungthai Bank Account number 034-1-81121-1.

For more information, please contact: 

Niran Nirannoot, Project Manager/National Coordinator - The Biodiversity Finance Initiative - BIOFIN Email: niran.nirannoot@undp.org

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