The COVID-19 pandemic and its dramatic impact on social and economic conditions of communities and individuals has highlighted the urgency and importance of strengthening the resilience of countries, adopting more sustainable and inclusive practices at all levels, in all sectors and across all provinces and municipalities. These key principles are the foundation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 rights-based objectives that all member states of the United Nations have adopted in 2015 to achieve before 2030.
Thailand has been championing these Goals and integrated them in its 20 years strategy and development plans. National institutional mechanisms have been established to foster the implementation of projects and initiatives to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. The next task to accelerate progress is to push this SDG agenda at sub-national level and task provinces, municipalities and other local administrations to localize the Goals and mobilize local stakeholders and communities behind them.
Localizing the SDGs ensures a stronger ownership by citizens and reaffirms that the principle to “Leave No One Behind” will be fully realized, by empowering communities, especially the most vulnerable groups of society to become champions for the SDGs.
There are close to 2500 municipalities in Thailand led by locally elected officials. Each municipality faces different challenges and local communities have different priorities. To leverage this reality, UNDP is increasingly focusing on supporting local initiatives that contribute to the SDGs. and has identified the National Municipal League of Thailand as a strategic partner in this work.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UNDP and the National Municipal League of Thailand (NMT) was signed on 1st September 2021, aiming to raise awareness and enhance the NMT’s capacity to advance the SDGs in all municipalities.
“No one understands the local context better than the local people. We want to listen and learn from the local communities and together come up with creative and integrated solutions to support Thailand to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. We see the municipalities of Thailand as critical partners for our programs, contributing in mobilizing citizens and communities in the achievement of the SDGs,” says Renaud Meyer, Resident Representative of UNDP in Thailand.
Under this collaboration, UNDP and NMT will jointly organize initiatives to strengthen the capacity of municipalities to align their plans, budgets and action with the SDGs at a local level. Among various activities planned is a pilot training for municipalities on youth engagement, followed by various capacity building and knowledge exchange events on topics such as such as gender equality, integrity and climate action adapted to suit local contexts.
“Sustainable development requires an integrated approach and we both realize that development requires a bottom-up approach rather than top down. Today marks the first step on our cooperation. The NMT includes over 2400 members nationwide which can support UNDP increase awareness and enhance capacity for our member municipalities across the country on Sustainable Development,” says Pongsak Yingchonchareon, Mayor of Yala Municipality and President of Municipal League of Thailand .
This collaboration will complement the Government’s effort in localizing and accelerating the SDGs in all municipalities across Thailand and will enable UNDP to foster peer to peer learning by facilitating exchanges between municipalities within Thailand. In addition, this collaboration will allow municipalities in Thailand to exchange knowledge and good practices with municipalities from other countries.
Watch the signing ceremony here.