Phuket governor celebrates SDG localisation at Bangkok event

Photo courtesy of Phuket News

Phuket Governor Sophon Suwannarat participated in the closing ceremony of the SDGs Localisation: Thailand’s Journey Towards Sustainability project orchestrated by the United Nations in Bangkok yesterday.

The event, held at the ESCAP Hall meeting room at the United Nations Conference Centre on Rajdamnern Nok Avenue, served as a platform to spotlight Thailand’s initiatives in integrating Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into local practices.

Governor Sophon highlighted Phuket’s advancements as one of the 15 pilot provinces focusing on sustainable development. His presentation covered critical areas including sustainable tourism, disaster resilience, natural resource management, and inter-provincial cooperation.

Prominent figures at the event included David Daly, the Ambassador of the European Union to Thailand, Suthipong Chulcharoen, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, and Reneau Meyère, a representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Thailand.

The event featured a lecture by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Anutin Charnvirakul who discussed implementing SDGs in spatial areas, drawing on experiences within the Interior Ministry.

A series of discussions at the seminar addressed various aspects of sustainable development in Thailand. One key topic, Developing Data to Unlock and Drive Sustainable Development, emphasised the importance of data in policy planning, the challenges of data development, and guidelines for effective communication and use of information for development purposes.

“This seminar underscores Thailand’s commitment to achieving the SDGs at the local level, highlighting successful implementation in the 15 pilot provinces.”

Sustainable development

The event facilitated the exchange of knowledge and best practices among government agencies and other sectors, reinforcing the nation’s dedication to sustainable development.

SDG localisation offers a structure to enable bottom-up dialogues and a framework for local development policy, encouraging greater participation and locally owned responses to inequalities at the community level, according to a formal statement by the UNDP Thailand in Bangkok.

The UNDP emphasised that Thailand could benefit from a more integrated multi-level and multi-stakeholder approach to promote transformative agendas at the local level, ensuring no one is left behind in the development process. Recognising the importance of SDG localisation, the National Sustainable Development Council made it a priority area in 2019.

The National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) and the Interior Ministry are collaborating closely to implement this decision. However, the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis have slowed progress towards the goals. To accelerate peace and achieve the SDGs, Thailand is focusing on the localisation of the SDGs.

Localising the SDGs in Thailand is crucial as it empowers local and regional governments and other stakeholders to actively engage in planning, monitoring, and implementation. It also helps identify gaps to achieve the SDGs specific to their location, UNDP Thailand stated.

The UNDP highlighted challenges such as the lack of accessible data, awareness of SDGs and SDG localisation, and insufficient capacity for sustainable development at the local level. These are areas the project aims to address by exploring innovative ways to overcome these challenges at the sub-national level.

“This project aims to increase the participation of all stakeholders at the provincial level, provide them with the data and knowledge needed to advocate for change, and identify where there are gaps that need to be filled.”

The goal is to prioritise initiatives and find innovative ways to approach issues faced by each province.

By capacitating civil society and local authorities to be more aware of and engaged in the SDG process, the aim is to create more ownership of the process at a sub-national level. This would ultimately improve dialogue between rights holders and duty bearers, enhance provincial development plans, and connect local challenges and achievements to national policies and the SDGs.

The UNDP’s Strategic Plan 2020-2025 describes six Signature Solutions: Poverty and Inequality; Governance; Resilience; Environment; Energy; and Gender Equality.

However, details of Phuket’s progress in these areas were not elaborated on in the official report of the event in Bangkok.

An infographic posted on the UNDP Thailand website noted the time frame for developing projects to support SDG Localisation was from December 2022 to April this year, reported Phuket News.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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