Assessing the state of Thailand’s nature and its contributions to people and the economy
August 24, 2022
Since joining the National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) Initiative as a country partner in 2020, Thailand has been developing its assessment approach and putting together a cross-disciplinary team of experts. As a country rich in biodiversity, as well as one of three Mekong region countries to join the NEA Initiative, Thailand’s assessment can make a substantial contribution to understanding the trends and future pathways for biodiversity and ecosystem services nationally, as well as in the region.
Thailand’s online workshop
The kick-off of Thailand’s national ecosystem assessment demonstrates the country’s commitment to conserve and sustainably use its natural heritage, and to contribute to global efforts to address one of the world’s biggest challenges: biodiversity loss.
On 3rd February 2022, Thailand officially launched its assessment process and announced a focus on the country’s rich and diverse marine and coastal ecosystems. The online workshop was widely attended with around 250 participants from diverse sectors. This occasion contributed to the steps taken by the country towards accounting for nature and its contributions to people in Thailand.
In his opening remarks, Mr Prasert Sirinapaporn, Deputy Secretary-General of the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP), declared: “On behalf of Thailand’s national focal point of the CBD and IPBES, we are pleased to be part of the NEA Initiative project which is encouraged by the CBD 14th Conference of the Parties in 2018. This is a good opportunity for us to assess the precious marine and coastal ecosystem which is one of the most essential ecosystems for our economy and livelihood.”
Indeed, among the key points discussed at the workshop, was a focus on coastal and marine ecosystems for the assessment, with lead authors presenting on key concepts, issues and plans relevant to the evaluation. Associate Professor Orapan Nabangchang, from the Asian Association of Environmental and Resources Economics and one of the assessment’s lead authors, emphasized for instance the importance of understanding the economic value of Thailand’s biodiversity and ecosystem services. She stressed how this understanding can help the country to formulate mechanisms like blue bonds and biodiversity offsets to support conservation and sustainable use of nature.
With a proposed focus on coastal and marine ecosystems, as well as tremendous opportunities to engage with civil society, the private sector, local communities and ethnic groups – who are key decision-makers and knowledge holders in these ecosystems – Thailand’s national ecosystem assessment can also offer important perspectives for countries around the world undertaking ecosystem assessments.
“Today, we manage marine resources uses without natural capital consideration. I believe national ecosystem assessments will be one of the most important tools to integrate them and demonstrate the true value of biodiversity and ecosystem services for policymakers” stated Professor Padermsak Jarayabhand, project director of the country’s ecosystem assessment.
From scoping to evaluation: next steps
Thailand has now embarked onto the second stage of its assessment process: the evaluation of existing knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services, guided by the key policy questions identified during the scoping stage.
Led by a partnership between ONEP under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Maritime Administration Graduate Program of Chulalongkorn University, and the Royal Thai Navy, the next steps of the country’s national ecosystem assessment will focus on stakeholder engagement and communication to increase public understanding about the process, as well as gathering input and feedback to ensure the assessment is socially, economically and politically relevant.
“As we are trying to reboot economy after the pandemic, it is important to be reminded of larger global crises looming over us, namely climate change, biodiversity loss and plastic pollution. Our national ecosystem assessment will be instrumental in accelerating our efforts towards sustainability with an emphasis on preserving our biodiversity and ecosystem services for inclusive and sustainable growth” said Dr Petch Manopawitr, Thailand’s NEA Project Manager.
For more information on Thailand’s national ecosystem assessment project, visit this website: http://www.neathailand.in.th/en/
The National Ecosystem Assessment Initiative at UNEP-WCMC is part of the Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services Network (BES-Net), working in partnership with UNDP and UNESCO. Financial support for Thailand’s national ecosystem assessment and the NEA Initiative is being provided by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection of the Federal Republic of Germany.
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