Remarks of Resident Coordinator in Thailand at the UN75 and Urban October exhibit

Remarks of Resident Coordinator in Thailand at the UN75 and Urban October exhibit at Central World, 22 Oct 2020

It is my pleasure to join you here today at Central World for the UN75 and Urban October exhibit, which raises awareness about the importance of sustainable cities and communities in Thailand, following the commitments of SDG 11.

I would like to thank the many partners who made this exhibit possible. A partnership deeply appreciated by the entire UN family in Thailand.

This exhibit is taking place at a very critical time for the world during this COVID19 pandemic, which has affected our economic stability greatly, leading to more people becoming vulnerable to homelessness.

I arrived in Thailand in March on the heels of the pandemic, and it was amongst one of my first priorities to consult with stakeholders representing urban poor communities including the Issarachon Foundation and Human Settlement Foundation, to better understand the impacts of COVID-19 on these communities.

I would like to commend the dedication of the Ministry of Social Development & Human Security in responding to COVID-19, ensuring 24-hour free access to shelters, special hotline for urgent social assistance and new skill development to facilitate career opportunities.

I would also like to acknowledge the swift action of National Housing Authority in implementing measures to alleviate household rent for residents and retailers in the Authority’s communities and opening rooms for those at risk of homelessness.

This week also celebrates Smart Cities Week 2020 in Thailand organized by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society.

In line with thinking about Smart Cities, I encourage you to participate in the panel discussion later today on “My Future, My City” which will unpack issues such as accessibility and inequality.

It is imperative that we add to discourse on Smart Cities, including on energy saving and green solutions in our cities in Thailand as urban areas require an uninterrupted supply of energy, consuming an excessive amount of global primary energy.

Approximately 19% of energy production globally is through households, and yet we know that consumption and therefore reducing our footprint does not stop at the household level.

Demonstrating the interconnectedness of the SDGs, we must recognize that urban communities are accessing services such as clean water, sanitation, waste management, access to transport – all requiring sustainable solutions. Energy distribution needs to become sustainable, inclusive, and fair.

We know that there is still work left to alleviate homelessness and inferior living conditions for about 2.7 million poor families in Thailand. These are ongoing issues being addressed tin the National Housing Master plan, and issues which are of shared concern for the UN.

The exhibit also highlights the achievements such as the provision of citywide housing for all, community savings and loan initiatives and housing programs for the vulnerable and homeless.

The Community Organizations Development Institute has been doing this work by strengthening communities across Thailand in both urban and rural areas for 20 years.

Bangkok itself is characterised by a stark urban transformation over past half century due to strong and coordinated efforts, led by the Royal Thai Government and in partnership with other stakeholders, including the UN family.

I would like to conclude by making a couple of key requests of you and I hope that you do indulge me:

Being that this year also marks 75 years of the UN, we have started a global conversation about ‘the world we want’ and I would like to ask you to complete the 1-minute online UN75 survey which you’ll have a chance to do as part of the exhibit.

Thank you all again for your participation in the exhibit and in today’s programme. I wish you all an illuminating experience and fruitful discussions.

Speech by
Gita Sabharwal
Resident Coordinator
Ms Gita Sabharwal
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
United Nations Human Settlements Programme