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Thai govt backed by UNDP launches GCF-financed climate change adaptation project


More than 80 participants representing the Thai government, academia, non-governmental organisations and the private sector convened at Bangkok’s Pullman Hotel for the launch of the Green Climate Fund (GCF)-financed programme titled “Increasing resilience to climate change impacts in marine and coastal areas along the Gulf of Thailand”.

The GCF approved a US$3-million (Bt93.6 million) grant for Thailand – to be implemented by UNDP – over a four-year period starting August 2020.

The programme was developed in collaboration between the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP), the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, both under the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, and UNDP in Thailand.

The project was launched with key partners discussing its concept, objectives and expected outcome, and the overall implementation plan.

Thailand’s coastal zones are rich with biodiversity, marine life and mangroves that are distributed along both coasts of 24 provinces. With Thailand located in the monsoon region, it is highly susceptible to extreme climate events, such as sea-level rise, flooding, cyclones and erosion. Healthy mangrove systems offer tremendous protection to coastal communities against storm surges and coastal erosion; they are also critical nursery areas that help support local fisheries and overall marine biodiversity.

With more than 1 million tourists visiting Phang-nga Bay annually, Thailand is working to protect and adapt its marine and coastal areas to global warming. Climate change will impact local tourism, agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture and natural resources, while creating additional stress on land and water resources.

To address this issue, the new programme will support the kingdom in advancing its climate change adaptation planning in relation to marine and coastal areas in the Gulf of Thailand.

In addition, the programme aims to contribute towards several Sustainable Development Goals as outlined in the 2030 agenda, including gender-responsive solutions to reduce disaster risks, enabling climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The new GCF-financed programme is an important contribution to Thailand implementing its National Adaptation Plan (NAP) that was finalised in 2018. Throughout the implementation of the NAP, the programme will utilise best practices and information from other interventions, such as the Safe Marine for Life project implemented by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, and will meaningfully expand the knowledge and regulatory framework, particularly for sub-national levels.

The programme will ensure close coordination among provincial-level agencies to set aside a budget for fishermen and farmers along coastal areas to better adapt to natural disasters, such as tropical storms, and keep beaches clean in order to maintain eco-friendly tourist destinations.

“I hope this programme will serve as a mechanism for cooperation among our two agencies and drive the implementation of the adaptation process considering climate change factors along Thailand’s coastal areas to create climate resilience,” said Raweewan Bhuridej, ONEP secretary-general. “This will contribute to Thailand’s 20-year strategy as well as the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Within the framework of Thailand’s nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement, climate change adaptation is noted as being a “top priority in Thailand’s national response to climate change”.

To date, Thailand’s GCF-financed programme has focused on NAP preparation, national climate risk modelling and a vulnerability analysis.

“The UNDP is a long-time partner of Thailand when it comes to climate action and we have been working with our Thai partners at both the policy level and local communities on mitigation and adaptation measures,” UNDP resident representative in Thailand Renaud Meyer said during the launch.

“This new GCF-funded project is timely and will provide a great platform to apply the Bio-Circular-Green development model promoted by Thailand as part of the Covid-19 recovery.”

He also emphasised the need to redefine the relationship between humans and nature to ensure win-win cohabitation. Involving coastal communities in this effort is both urgent and required to strengthen the resilience of Thailand, safeguard progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and continue with efforts towards sustainability.

At the country level, the ONEP will act as a key government agency to coordinate and seek collaboration from 12 other relevant Thai government agencies.

The programme seeks to build additional partnerships with interested development parties, including international organisations, civil society organisations, academic institutions and the private sector.

Linkages will be made to this programme through integrated approaches to mainstreaming and piloting adaptation responses in key NAP sectors, including tourism, agriculture, health, and human settlements.

Published : March 31, 2021

By : THE NATION