Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Part 1

June 10, 2020
Sutiwat Prutthiprasert

What is a sustainable development?           

A development that can satisfy the demand of the current generation and will not reduce the future generation’s potential to satisfy their needs. A society will be sustainable when there is a balance of 3 dimensions: Environment, Economy and Society.
After the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs) came to an end in 2015, the Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) are launched by all United
Nations Members States on September 2015 which are part of UN resolution 70/1 and intended to be achieved by the year 2030. The goals provided a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. SDGs consists of 17 topics as follows:

All 17 goals which are classified into 5 topics (5P).

  1. People
    End poverty and hunger in all forms and ensure dignity and equality. (Goals 1-5)
  2. Planet
    Protect our planet’s natural resources and climate for future generations. (Goals: 6 12 13 14 and 15)
  3. Prosperity
    Ensure prosperous and fulfilling lives in harmony with nature. (Goal 7-11)
  4. Peace
    Peaceful, just and inclusive societies. (Goal 16)
  5. Partnership
    Implement the agenda through a solid global partnership. (Goal 17)

Features of Sustainable Development Goals

1. Inclusive Development – Sufficient coverage of development. Leave no one behind.
2. Universal Development – Not for only poor countries but to support all countries
3. Integrated Development – Harmonizing of all 17 goals
4. Locally-focused Development – The goals must be applied to both urban and rural areas (Bottom up approach).
5. Technology-driven Development – SDGs need a modern technology to succeed, especially the one relating to data.

One example of understanding SDGs systemically. In countries that has increasing rate of enrollment, there are some students who are still not able to access to schools due to poverty and the distance to school. In addition, if the student is a female, her parents may think that going to school is not necessary. In order to solve this problem, 7 goals have to be integrated: Goal 1 No Poverty, Goal 2 Zero Hunger, Goal 4 Quality Education, Goal 5 Gender Equality, Goal 6 Clean Water and Sanitation, Goal 10 Reduce Inequalities, Goal 16 Peace Justice and Strong Institution.

SDGs in Thailand

SDGs are used as a guide to Thailand’s 20-Year National Strategy (2018-2037) which is legislated in the Constitution of Thailand 2017. To achieve SDGs, the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) and Thailand’s 20-Year National Strategy are the ideas and method to conduct.

In Thailand, SDGs are supervised by the National Committee for Sustainable Development (CSD) which is set up by thai government, headed by the Prime Minister. Consisting of 37 members from the integration of public sectors, private sectors and civil society sector and having the Secretary-General National Economic and Social Development Board as the secretariat. In order to provide more channels for the local communities to work with the government sector, the cabinet also established three new national committees in 2017-2018. Such committees are a committee for the implementation of government policies, a committee on building the capacity of local communities and a committee on the Sustainable Thai Nyom Project*.

“Business sectors are the largest culprit in destroying environment” said Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface Company in TED TALK 2019. Many thai companies have initiated their projects towards the SDGs. Most companies have to review their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities and/or have to adjust their production processes to decrease the impact on environment. In Thailand, there is an organization that specially aims for sustainable development called Thailand Business Council for Sustainable Development (TBCSD), founded in 1993. Currently, there are 38 organizations as a member that involves following occupancies: agricultural, financial, service, technology, industrial, consumer products, resources, real estate and others. Some examples of cooperation projects between TBCSD and Thailand Environment Institute (TEI) are Carbon Reduction Certification for Building which encourages the involvement of manufacturers and consumers in global warming reduction via the market mechanism and Green Label for the environmentally friendly products. Several large Thai corporations also initiates their SDGs projects. CP All and PTT, for instance.

*Thai Nyom Project can be translated as “sustainable Thai way”. It is a project for government to collect opinions (Big Data) from citizens to allow the government to know about people’s needs such as the economy in people’s views.

In 2015, CP All became a member of UNGC (United Nation Global Compact) and use 17 goals as a business plan guide. By classifying SDGs into 3 topics: Heart (Living Right), Health (Living Well) and Home (Living Together). Heart focuses on “Governance” inside the organization which can refer to a core value for all staff and be more open to different point of views to create new innovations. Health focuses on what we can do to create sustainability for a society. And, Home is how we can reserve dwellings for our and future generations. What Pid Thong Lung Pra foundation, supported and cooperated with UNGC, is doing is an example of “Home”. The foundation is targeting on water management which is the heart of farmers’ living. PTT, as an energy company, comes up with 3P strategy which is the balancing between People, Planet and Profit. Famous project for “People” are “Pacharat School” by becoming 1 from 12 supporter companies. The project applies the management way of private company to the school system. Another significant project is EECi (Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation) in Wang Chan Valley in Rayong Province to be the Smart Natural Innovation Platform with the purpose of driving research and innovation. The project develops infrastructure on the area of 3,302 rai to be in accordance with “Smart City”.

What are business risks and chances for Thai company with SDGs?

It is apparent that the world’s population keeps increasing every year. By 2050, the world’s population is expected to increase by 10 million people, meaning that the demand will also increase. This can benefit in a larger market segment. On the other side, in order to produce more products, can the technology satisfy that production level, while land limitation exists. There are several challenges or risks that the business sectors have to consider. The challenges may be separated into 2 forms: External drives and Internal Drives. External drives are mostly from international organizations such as UN and WTO that regulate how the productions will not further damage environment. Internal drives are more critical as It is important for business sectors to be proactive rather than reactive. Business sectors have to know themselves well, for example, is the cost low enough? are there new innovations? are there new markets? or using Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI)* as an indicator.

*Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) are a family of indices evaluating the sustainability performance of thousands of companies, operated under S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Thailand has advantages in some industries due to the location such as Trade & Finance, as Thailand is located in the center of ASEAN, Tourism and obviously agricultural and food industries. On the other hand, there are lots of units that are still in Thailand 1.0 level, especially the agricultural units (farmers) which are 40-50% of the overall Thailand’s population. The more SMEs transformed to 4.0, the more inequality it will become for the agricultural section.

In the following chapters, we will talk about all 17 goals in detail.



Sutiwat Prutthiprasert