Thailand Economic Focus: Additional THB 50 investment per person per day to help reach SDGs
Five years after signing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Thailand has made significant efforts in taking actions to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDG Report 2020 showed that, while advances have been made in some areas, monumental challenges remain.
Five years after signing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Thailand has made significant efforts in taking actions to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs Report 2020 showed that, while advances have been made in some areas, monumental challenges remain.
According to the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Bertelsmann Stiftung, Thailand ranked 41st out of 166 countries surveyed on development progress relating to the SDGs. Thailand was top among ASEAN countries. The progress of Thailand in the SDGs helps improve the country’s competitiveness.
Thailand’s performance is most outstanding in the areas of poverty reduction, clean water and sanitation, decent work and economic growth, and industry, innovation and infrastructure. However, Thailand has a big job ahead to promote investments in the SDGs in order to tackle urgent and complex issues since the Report calls for major transformations in every country to address skills and jobs, healthcare, climate change, clean energy, biodiversity loss, land use, social protection and digital technology.
The government, NGOs, companies and investors are all required to help achieve the SDGs. Never before has the global community set out such an ambitious agenda – and the need to meet the challenges is urgent: ESCAP (2019) projects that meeting the SDGs will require around THB1.27 trillion (or US$40.9 billion) in additional annual investment from 2020 to 2030, equivalent to 50 baht per person per day. The estimate, which was undertaken before the COVID-19 pandemic, consists of investments in people (THB513.5 billion), prosperity (THB426.1 billion) and planet (THB327.8 billion).
Consequently, Thailand should roughly double its current investment levels in the SDGs  with an additional 50 baht per person per day to help reach the Goals. While government expenditure will contribute, new flows of private capital will be key either through new allocations or by re-routing existing capital flows. To unlock this opportunity, it will be critical for investors to re-orient their investment flows towards the new innovative products and services focused on finding solutions to achieve the SDGs including low-carbon infrastructure, clean energy, green bonds, green real estate and sustainable forestry and agriculture.
As Thailand strives to deal with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the country ultimately must seek to turn the crisis into an opportunity and ramp up actions necessary to achieve the Goals. The spirit of solidarity, quick and robust action to defeat the virus should be brought to bear on the implementation of the SDGs. Thailand should accelerate and deepen the efforts during this Decade of Action to recover better and build a healthier, safer, fairer and a more prosperous country, so necessary in avoiding future pandemics.
 In recent years, Thailand’s investments in the SDGs were around 10-15% of GDP.
The author would like to thank Dr Sweta Saxena for her editorial comments and Jeong-Dae Lee and Kiatkanid Pongpanich for their technical supports. The views expressed within this publication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily carry the endorsement of the UN. Please address all correspondences to firstname.lastname@example.org.