2009 Thailand National HDR: Human Security, Today and Tomorrow

10 May 2010

image 2009 Thailand National Human Development Report

Bangkok – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security released Thailand’s 2009 Human Development Report today. The report, entitled ‘Human Security, Today and Tomorrow’ casts a spotlight on the state of human security in Thailand from multiple perspectives. The analysis in the report covers economic security, political security, environmental security, health security, personal security and food security.

By selecting human security as the theme of the report, UNDP has been able to examine a wide spectrum of issues related to human development. The report draws attention to old risks and threats, such as the degradation of the country’s natural resources and the workforce that remains uncovered by a social safety net. It also identifies new risks and threats that have arisen over time. In short, the report covers a wide range of topics and priorities, including old problems that have existed for many years, and new issues that have emerged alongside the significant changes that have occurred in the country’s economy, society and position in the world.

The 2009 Human Development Report highlights six specific issues that Thailand will face in the coming years, including: addressing the needs of small farmers; accommodating non-citizens; combating persistent social inequality; managing the needs of an ageing society; understanding climate change and its consequences; and the proper management of the country’s water supply.

The report also presents a list of action points as guidance for policymakers on how to best tackle new and emerging challenges. These include: Putting inequality on the national agenda and launching some basic reforms; Overhauling water management; Strengthening the security of informal workers; Ensuring adequate support for the elderly population in the long term.

The human security theme was selected by a panel of experts, composed of government, media, NGO, and private sector representatives, who concluded that this is the most pressing issue facing Thailand today.

“This is a timely report on human security in Thailand. Its multi-dimensional approach - covering economic security, food security, environmental security, health security, personal security and political security - raises the stakes for the country and its inhabitants. It highlights the integral link that exists between peace, democracy, human rights and sustainable development," said Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn of the Faculty of Law at Chulalongkorn University, who appeared at Monday’s Launch as a panelist.

“The report provides a number of recommendations that we believe would contribute significantly towards improving human security in the Kingdom of Thailand, and help reduce the current inequalities and imbalances in Thai society,” said Gwi-Yeop Son, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Thailand.

“We are recommending that social injustice and imbalance be put on the national agenda for leaders to address it for the country’s overall cohesion and harmony.”

Spotlighting human achievements

The Report also presents the Human Achievement Index (HAI), which was first introduced by UNDP in Thailand in 2003. It is the first human development index measured at the provincial level, providing an overall assessment of the country’s human development situation. In short, the HAI provides a ranking of each province’s overall level of development.

The HAI is comprised of eight components: Family and Community Life; Housing and Living Environment; Health; Employment; Education; Income; Transport and Communication; and Participation. The HAI is often used to compare the human development situation among provinces in order to identify advanced and deprived areas.

A comparison of the 2007 and 2009 Human Achievement Indexes of the top ten provinces in Thailand reveals that Phuket continues to occupy the top spot. Bangkok and the nearby provinces of Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom and Nonthaburi are also on the top ten list, along with Rayong and Ayutthaya, which are industrial hubs in the East and the Central Plains. Two provinces that have dropped out of the top ten ranking since 2007 are Samut Prakan, an industrial city adjacent to Bangkok, and Sing Buri in the Central Plain.