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The UNDP-Sweden partnership in Thailand’s path to sustainable development

Nov 27. 2020
Renaud Meyer and Jon Åström Gröndahl
Renaud Meyer and Jon Åström Gröndahl
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By Renaud Meyer, Jon Åström Gröndahl
Special to The Nation

Covid-19 has been a powerful reminder of how swiftly a crisis of global proportions can change our lives. This year, global human development is on course to decline for the first time in decades, and over 100 million people could slide back into poverty from the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Thailand has shown foresight and resolve in keeping Covid-19 transmission in check, but the economic slowdown has still resulted in widespread job losses, affecting middle-class households and the poor alike, and could offset years of progress.

A global crisis requires international cooperation. Our hopes are now pinned on a potential vaccine and a belief that – once approved – the global community will come together to deploy it fairly and equally around the world. No one is safe until everyone is safe.

This belief in collective action to meet global crises embodies the multilateralism that is at the core of the United Nations. Now, more than ever, all countries must come together, not only to solve this crisis, but also to prevent that progress in other areas will be wiped out.

If not for the pandemic, December would have seen world leaders gather in Glasgow to address the climate crisis, another global and inter-generational challenge that requires urgent and collective action.

In the next century, we could see global temperatures rise over 1.5 degrees Celsius, triggering deadly heatwaves and affecting every inhabited region on the planet. In Thailand, changing weather patterns and rising sea levels are likely to cause more frequent floods, tropical storms and droughts, threatening the prosperity and the self-reliance the country has attained.

With Sweden, UNDP’s work in Thailand over the past few years has focused on building resilience to these impacts of climate change, whilst also supporting the government to meet its national commitments to reduce emissions as agreed in the Paris Agreement of 2015. Women generally face a greater burden of the impacts of climate change, as well as the effects of Covid-19. UNDP is supporting Thailand’s government to integrate climate and gender considerations into national budgetary processes. One element of this work is to enable parliamentarians to play a significant role in the journey to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Thailand was also, with support from UNDP and Sweden, the first country in Asia to adopt a national action plan for business and human rights, an important step in the right direction to build a more sustainable society. We are looking forward to the imminent implementation of this plan and are pleased to see other countries line up to learn from Thailand’s experience.

Efforts in response to the pandemic may have serious and far-reaching repercussions on the enjoyment of human rights. Emergency responses and restrictions must be strictly in line with international law.

Sweden, together with many other countries, is proud to partner with UNDP – it is a strategic investment in our future. Together, we have a positive impact on the lives of millions of people while protecting the planet. This investment will pay dividends for generations to come.

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the world severely, but let’s not lose this opportunity to build back better and greener. Strengthen international cooperation. Continue to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. Achieve the sustainable development goals, leaving no one left behind.

We are committed to make concrete actions out of these words.

To do any less, would be a grave injustice to future generations.

Renaud Meyer is UNDP resident representative in Thailand, and Jon Astrom Grondahl is Sweden’s ambassador-designate to Thailand.

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