Thailand’s Development Journey: Sufficiency Economy Philosophy

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 31 2017 - Thailand’s “journey from aid recipient to emerging donor state” was the inspiration for a new publication launched at the UN on January 12, said Don Pramudwinai Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand.

The publication is the first in a series on the theme of “South-South in Action,” where developing countries will share with each other their ideas and approaches for achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Once a recipient of foreign aid the kingdom over the last decades has gradually transformed itself into an emerging donor expanding its engagement with the world through many and multiple platforms of cooperation,” said Pramudwinai.

Central to Thailand’s development experience is the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP), showcased in the publication.

Pramudwinai described the philosophy as “a gift bestowed upon the Thai people four decades ago by his majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

“Our experience convinces us that SEP can play an important part in global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” said Pramudwinai.

“The global south has vast potential and countries have much to offer each other,” he added, explaining Thailand’s motivation to contribute to the series.

Describing the purpose of the series, Jorge Chediek, Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation and Director, UN Office for South-South Cooperation said:

“Our goal is to enable developing countries to effectively face their development challenges and harness opportunities to address them.”

“South-South cooperation emphasises mutual responsibility based on solidarity and the recognition that all countries have something valuable to contribute,” he added.

Suphatra Srimaitreephithak, Director-General of Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) who also spoke at the launch described the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy in more detail.

“Sustainability from applying SEP can be gauged in 4 dimensions: economic, social, environmental, and also culture, while SDGs only focus on 3 dimensions of sustainability, namely economic, social and environmental,” she said.

“This “thinking process” derived from the Philosophy has been proven a success when we had a hard time affected by Crisis in 1997. A large number of business corporates applied the Philosophy into their way of doing business to survive the crisis.”

She also described how Thailand is implementing the philosophy through triangular cooperation – cooperation between two developing countries and a developed country. For example, Thailand is working with Germany to implement programs in Laos, Vietnam and Timor-Leste.

Argentina’s Permanent Representative to the UN Martin Garcia Moritan spoke about the growing importance of South-South cooperation:

South-South cooperation can be seen as a reflection of the growing capacity and political willingness of developing countries to do their part to obtain the 2030 agenda,” he said.

Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN Amrith Rohan Perera spoke about Sri Lanka’s growing involvement in South-South cooperation including cooperation with Thailand.

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