The Sustainable Development Goals in Thailand
With 21 United Nations entities represented in Thailand, our work encompasses all of the SDGs. The United Nations Country Team supports activities with particular focus on the following goals: SDG1.3 on expanding the reach of social protection; SDG 3.4 tackling non-communicable diseases; SDG 4.1 education for all, with a focus on migrant children; SDG 5.5 advocacy for greater participation of women in political decision making; SDG 8.3 support to small to medium-sized enterprises and youth innovation; 10.2 inclusion of marginalized groups, particularly the LGBTI community; SDG 10.7 migration governance; SDG 13.2 climate change strategies at national and local level; SDG 16.1 supporting social cohesion to end violence in southern Thailand; SDG 16.9 advocacy and support to end statelessness; SDG 17.7 partnerships with private sector for sustainable development; and, SDG 17.9 the sharing of Thailand’s experience and best practices through South-South exchanges.
08 September 2021
UNESCO Bangkok delivers tablets to marginalized students
On 18 August 2021, UNESCO Bangkok in collaboration with Lenovo Thailand and Equitable Education Fund (EEF) announced the donation of 50 Lenovo tablets to the Learning Coin project, an initiative implemented by UNESCO to promote strong literacy skills among marginalized migrant children through improved access to learning and reading materials. Lenovo-donated tablets will be integrated into UNESCO Bangkok’s Learning Coin project, funded by EEF since 2020, as essential reading devices for children and youth to access apps that support their learning and calculate their progress under ‘scholarships’ that turn their studies into financial support for their families. This phase of the project will be focusing on supporting the learning of marginalized children in the provinces of Bangkok, Mae Hong Son, Nakhon Nayok and Yala. Thaneth Angkasirisan, General Manager from Lenovo Indochina stated: "Students are the future. One of our company main goals is to promote educational opportunities for children. We want students to learn, to be able to develop their potentials and to become good citizens in order to drive Thailand forward. Truly appreciate UNESCO Bangkok and Equitable Education Fund for connecting this meaningful opportunity.” Pratima Harite, Head, Asia-Pacific CSR and Philanthropy, Lenovo Foundation remarked in her statement: "At Lenovo, we believe technology paves the way to a brighter tomorrow, supporting our mission of smarter technology for all. We are able to use technology to support the population in the remote parts of a community. There is a need to support literacy among those students and children who have difficulty accessing education and are not in mainstream schooling. For this, Lenovo Foundation is proud to partner with UNESCO Bangkok and EEF to support these young students through the Learning Coin program. We strongly believe that this program will enhance not just literacy skills but also the reading ability of participants." Ichiro Miyazawa, Programme Specialist in Literacy and Lifelong Learning from UNESCO Bangkok noted: "I would like to sincerely thank Lenovo Foundation for the generous donation of 50 tablets for children who have suffered the most in the current pandemic. Through this project focusing on reading and learning, we are creating the leaders of the future, and we are helping people stand up and change their own lives for the better. I am happy to see a great company like Lenovo assisting in that mission by donating high-quality tablets to ensure our success." Through the Learning Coin initiative, the private sector plays an important role in raising awareness of prevailing inequities in education and the need for the enhancement of children’s learning capacities with information and communications technologies. The objective of providing youth with these learning devices is to reduce their risk of falling out of the education system permanently, to promote their reading skills and to support the overall learning of children in need in Thailand. Thantida Wongprasong, Director, Office of Partnership, Innovation and Scholarships, EEF stated: "This educational technology cooperation is in line with our mission of supporting more than one million underprivileged youth in the bottom 20% of the country, who are likely to fall out of the education system." UNESCO Bangkok, Lenovo Thailand and EEF, together with the Thailand Ministry of Education have pledged to jointly support the dissemination of innovative ideas in education, in hopes that such ideas will be applied in a wider context and that they will be able to advance literacy potential and promote reading one day not only in Thailand but eventually throughout the region and to the benefit of all children in the Asia-Pacific. Original article published on UNESCO Bangkok.
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12 September 2021
Our Common Agenda report
“Our Common Agenda” report looks ahead to the next 25 years and represents the Secretary-General’s vision on the future of global cooperation and reinvigorating inclusive, networked, and effective multilateralism. The Secretary-General presented his report to the General Assembly in September 2021 before the end of the 75th session of the General Assembly.
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07 September 2021
Asia-Pacific seeks to build back better by addressing climate-disaster-health risks
The year 2020 saw Asia-Pacific deal with the dual occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic along with climate-related disasters, which triggered cascading impacts across sectors. As the region was already not projected to achieve any of the Sustainable Development Goals, the impacts of these disasters made their attainment even more difficult. Moreover, the growing impacts of disasters threaten the development gains of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Asia and the Pacific, and thus their graduation to middle income status. In the context of this complex risk environment, the Disaster Resilience Week was organized from 23-27 August 2021 by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific under the theme of “Building Back Better after COVID-19.” The week started with technical sessions organized as part of a Regional Learning Platform, which was designed to set the stage for the deliberations of the seventh session of the Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction. The sessions of the Platform showcased various pathways to build resilience to address multi-hazard risks from natural and biological hazards. The sessions of the Week were guided by ESCAP resolution (77/1), which was sponsored by Thailand and requested that discussions be held around post-COVID-19 resilience, including through the consideration of the Bangkok Principles for the implementation of the health aspects of the Sendai Framework. The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) worked closely with ESCAP on the organization of two technical sessions, which led up to a Thematic Experts Meeting at the end of Day 2 of the Week. This Meeting synthesized the conclusions of the Regional Learning Platform sessions to articulate recommendations for the Committee’s consideration. The first session, co-organized by UNDRR and Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, focused on achieve policy coherence between existing frameworks to address the disaster-health-climate nexus. Opening the session, Mr.Thani Thongphakdi, Permanent Secretary for the Foreign Affairs of Thailand, said: “Thailand believes that a discourse on the interlinkages of disaster, health and climate is very timely. It can help governments and stakeholders better understand the compounding and cascading risk landscape and to formulate more coherent policies.” In particular, the session discussed the process of integrating biological and natural hazards as part of a multi-hazard approach built on existing global frameworks. “A multi-hazard approach to considering climate, biological, and disaster risks is the type of systems thinking that is required to address systemic risk and not miss any blind spots,” noted Mr. Marco Toscano-Rivalta, Chief of UNDRR’s Regional Office for Asia-Pacific, adding that: “All countries stand to benefit from such approaches, especially those on the pathway of graduating from the least developed category, as addressing disaster-related economic and environmental vulnerabilities can support a smooth transition to a post-LDC life.” The second session focused on the need to strengthen the resilience of infrastructure as means to achieve many of the Sendai Framework’s targets and to protect sustainable development. Co-organized by UNDRR and the Coalition for Disaster-Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), the session also launched a report on “Climate and Disaster Resilient Infrastructure,” which was drafted by the regional UN Issue-based Coalition (IBC) on Building Resilience. “The pandemic has led to an unprecedented impact on infrastructure sectors worldwide. This is only a reminder of the need for investing in disaster and climate resilient infrastructure. The recent IBC report focuses on thus urgency again and the urgent need for immediate action,” said Mr. Sandeep Poundrik, the Director-General of CDRI, who delivered the session’s keynote address. Mr. Poundrik call for increased investment in disaster and climate resilience echoes that of the UN Secretary General, Mr. António Guterres, who has repeatedly called on countries to dedicate at least half of their public climate finance to climate adaptation and resilience building. Day 3 of the Disaster Resilience Week saw the opening of the Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction and the launch of ESCAP’s Asia Pacific Disaster Report 2021. The Report, which last came out in 2019, estimates that annual economic losses arising from cascading risks could almost double under the worst-case climate change scenario. This presents a clear threat to the sustainable development agenda in the region. “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that almost without exception, countries around the world are still ill-prepared to deal with multiple overlapping crises, which often cascade, with one triggering another,” said Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. “Tropical cyclones, for example, can lead to floods, which lead to disease, which exacerbates poverty.” A big driver of risk in the region has been climate change. According to the latest Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, many parts of Asia are projected to face worsening heat extremes, heavier rainfall, rising sea levels, and more intense fire seasons. “The string of ‘record-breaking’ weather events show that we do not have the luxury of ‘waiting this out.’ Action must be taken now to address these risks,” said Ms. Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction. “This includes increasing international funding for disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation, especially for countries graduating from the least-developed category.” In support of the Committee’s deliberations, UNDRR delivered two statements. One under agenda item 3 around “scaling-up subregional and regional cooperation frameworks to manage cascading risks” and one on Day 4 on behalf of the IBC in support of agenda item 4 on work of the “United Nations system at the regional level.” On Day 5 of the Week, UNDRR co-organized with Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health a side event titled “Risk Communication for better Disaster Risk Management.” The event was opened by Mr. Natapanu Nopakun, Deputy Director-General of Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who called for inclusive risk communication that leaves no one behind: “Risk communication strategies need to go beyond traditional approaches of sectors working in silos to include a whole-of-community approach. This inclusive approach will enable the community to better understand disaster risk, embrace new innovations, and build partnerships with all relevant sectors.” The side event was attended by 479 participants and included speakers from the Government of Malaysia, the Government of New Zealand, the World Health Organization, the ASB Office for Indonesia and the Philippines, and the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union. The final session of the Week was dedicated to Member States reviewing and adopting the report of the Committee. The report and the decisions of the Committee will influence the work of the Commission moving forward, which is expected to put a greater emphasis on the need to strengthen regional cooperation around multi-hazard disaster risk reduction for a resilient recovery from the pandemic. Original article published on UNDRR.
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07 September 2021
IOM, partners join forces to protect migrant workers in the Thai rubber industry
The UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Diginex, a blockchain-focused company, have joined hands to leverage blockchain technology to better protect migrant workers in the country. The new partnership is being piloted with Tat Win Company Limited (Tat Win), a Thailand-based latex concentrate producer and exporter, along with IKEA, which has been actively promoting for sustainability in the latex value chain. “Globally, there has been an increasing demand for companies to demonstrate that the goods and services they produce and provide are free from labour exploitation,” said Geraldine Ansart, Chief of Mission at IOM Thailand. “This also applies to businesses in Thailand, especially after the country adopted the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP) in 2019 to promote respect for human and labour rights among Thai businesses,” she added. In recent years, Thailand has been one of the world’s largest exporters of natural rubber. Like other key export industries, the rubber industry is largely reliant on migrant workers. Companies may be unintentionally involved in unethical recruitment and labour exploitation, especially if they do not monitor the recruitment and employment conditions of migrant workers across their operations. Technologies like eMin, a mobile-optimized and blockchain-based platform developed by Diginex and built on the open-source and secure Tezos Protocol, a self-upgradeable proof of stake blockchain, can help in collecting data from migrant workers. eMin stores and protects data from being altered or destroyed, enabling the companies to audit their supply chain easily with the comfort of knowing the information cannot be changed without their knowledge. During the project concluded on 31 August, over 100 Myanmar migrant workers employed by Tat Win shared their feedback on recruitment experiences and employment conditions through eMin, allowing the company to better understand the recruitment and labour practices in their value chain, and get a bird’s eye view of key risk areas. At the core of the project stands the importance of implementing the ‘Employer Pays Principle’, a recruitment model where migrants do not pay for any fees or costs for their recruitment and employment, which is instead covered by the employer. Kee Long, Director at Tat Win said that migrant workers form the backbone of Tat Win’s natural rubber latex supply chain. From tapping trees to operating production lines, they contribute to every step of their supply chain. “Tat Win believes that the fair and equal treatment of migrant workers should be the responsibility of all employers. Elimination of risks to migrant workers can only be accomplished systematically with an unwavering commitment by employers like ourselves. Taking the lead in the industry towards higher standards for migrant workers is the only way forward towards sustainable organic growth for all stakeholders, from the smallholder farmer to the end consumer,” he added. Kanwarpreet Singh, Sustainability Compliance Manager at IKEA Purchasing & Logistics Area South East Asia stressed IKEA’s commitment as a buyer to a responsible supply chain for rubber. “Being responsible for the total supply chain gives us a unique opportunity to make a positive change for people, society and the planet. What we do matters, and it is equally important how we do it. For us, it is important to create a positive social impact for everyone across the IKEA value chain which includes working with others to define fair and responsible wage practices and gaining an in-depth understanding of the recruitment journey of migrant workers,” he added. Leanne Melnyk, Head of Global Supply Chains at Diginex, noted that brands and suppliers who invest in worker voice technology are able to stay ahead of the curve by understanding and responding to worker concerns in real-time – leading to improved productivity and retention rates and more engaged employees at all levels of employment. This initiative is part of IOM’s Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking (CREST) initiative, a regional partnership that aims to realize the potential of business to uphold the human and labour rights of migrant workers in their operations and supply chains. Original article published on IOM Thailand. Note to editors About Blockchain and Tezos Protocol Blockchain is a digital system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change. Tezos is a self-upgradable blockchain with an established history and one of the first projects to incorporate proof-of-stake - a consensus mechanism that aligns the incentives of participants to keep costs low, avoid centralization, and put network power in the hands of stakeholders. About Diginex Diginex is a disruptive impact tech business helping organizations to address the world’s most pressing sustainability issues, utilizing the latest blockchain technology to lead change and increase transparency. For more information, please contact Ms. Panitee Nuykram at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ms. Aleksandra Lasota at email@example.com.
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23 February 2021
A Valentine reminder that people living with HIV deserve love
Six years ago, Thitiwatt 'Pete' Sirasjtakorn learned that he was HIV positive, a point in his life when he struggled to understand what this meant and had almost given up on life. However, this is where his story begins. Pete managed to overcome the stigma and discrimination and decided to publicly disclose his HIV-positive status on social media and educate people about HIV from his experiences, becoming today an influential voice in Thailand. On this Valentine's Day, as part of its continuing efforts, the United Nations affirms -- everybody deserves love, respect and dignified lives. People living with HIV are valued members of our communities who are making enormous contributions to society. The network of people living with HIV is actively working alongside government and the UN to promote HIV testing, advocate for prevention campaigns and tackle discrimination. All of us can do more to support their efforts. That begins with countering stigma and discrimination that still pervades all sectors of society. People living with HIV continue to face stigma and discrimination everywhere: at work, at school, at home, in health settings and in the community. Stigma Indexes conducted in different countries around the world show that there are still people who do not want to buy food prepared by people living with HIV, or parents who do not want their children to attend school with students living with HIV. These ideas and attitudes are deeply founded in ignorance and put the lives of people living with HIV in danger, with clear findings that people do not access needed health care because of many types of stigma and discrimination. To this day, there are still many misconceptions about HIV. The virus cannot be transmitted through saliva, tears or sweat and can only be found in body fluids, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. For example, hugging, shaking hands, sharing toilets, sharing dishes and kissing do not transmit HIV. It is transmitted through penetrative sex, blood transfusions, the sharing of contaminated needles and drug injection, and between mother and infant during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. Several methods have proved highly effective in reducing the risk of HIV, including male and female condoms, the use of antiretroviral medicines as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and treatment of people living with HIV to reduce viral load and prevent onward transmission. There are also misconceptions about the health situation for people living with HIV, with ARV treatment- having life-changing benefits. Treatment enables people living with HIV to stay healthy, maintain their quality of life and have a lifespan similar to those who are not living with HIV. Thailand is at the forefront of the HIV response with a strong public health system that provides antiretroviral treatment (ART) covered by the Universal Health Coverage Scheme. Twenty years of evidence shows that HIV treatments are highly effective in reducing transmission, with clear findings that people who have an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV sexually. This is life-changing for people who feel liberated from stigma associated with living with HIV and can provide a strong sense of being agents of HIV prevention. Thailand has also made considerable progress curbing mortality associated with HIV, with a 44% decline of Aids-related deaths from 2010 to 2019, from 25,000 to 14,000 respectively. Yet considerable challenges remain. The country has one of the highest prevalence rates in the Asia-Pacific, with an estimated half a million people living with HIV. While infections are dropping, they are rising among young men who have sex with men, and rates of other sexually transmitted infections are also increasing. "It's not that having HIV is normal -- HIV is not normal," said a youth representative from the Thai Network of Youth Living with HIV, who asked not to be named. "But people living with HIV are normal. They have potential like other people and should be treated and be loved like others." She added that normalising HIV does not mean ignoring safer sex and practices. The epidemic disproportionately affects key populations, often those who are already subject to stigma that pushes them to the margins of society and aggravates public health risks. Men who have sex with men are the most impacted group, accounting for about 38% of new infections. Sex workers and their clients, transgender people and people who inject drugs each account for about 5 to 10% of infections, with migrants and prisoners also disproportionately vulnerable. Almost 50% of new HIV infections, or about 3,000 per year, are in young people aged 15 to 24. In many cases, people living with HIV avoid visiting health care settings because of stigma and discrimination. A 2014 National Examination survey found that 59% of the general population reported discriminatory attitudes. This must change. Stigma and discrimination fundamentally undercut not only Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 on health and well-being, but all the 17 interlinked SDGs and the country's development trajectory. Pete has made it his life mission to educate people about HIV prevention and to reduce the HIV transmission rate. His work, however, needs the support of all of us, which begins with informing ourselves about HIV to end ignorance, stigma and discrimination. Only then will we have a truly resilient and healthy society. This article is originally published on the Bangkok Post on Feb 13, 2021.
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15 October 2020
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