Sustainability in Thailand – Experience for Developing Countries (2017)




For some time now, South-South cooperation has been gaining momentum in the official development ecosystem. The rich diversity of the South provides an excellent opportunity for developing countries to forge mutually beneficial partnerships in our common endeavour to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Recognizing the importance of South-South cooperation, Thailand is honoured to be the first country to recount our journey from being an aid recipient to becoming an emerging development partner in this new series of UNOSSC publications. It is our hope that this will encourage more countries of the South to take part in development cooperation.

In this publication, we will also share with you Thailand’s home-grown approach to sustainable development, known as the “Sufficiency Economy Philosophy” (SEP). Conceived over 40 years ago, SEP became the tenet of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s working precepts which evolve around the concepts of moderation, knowledge and reasonableness. SEP has put Thailand on a steady growth path for decades and remains today the key guiding principle of Thailand’s sustainable development efforts.

As the world works collectively to achieve the SDGs, Thailand has been promoting “SEP for SDGs Partnership” as our contribution to the global development effort to make sure that no country is left behind. Through the Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA), technical cooperation such as short-term training courses, post-graduate scholarships, study visits as well as tailor-made cooperation programmes have been provided to numerous countries for decades. The success of these programmes bears testimony to the enduring power of robust development work, which should begin at home, at the levels of family, village and community.

Thailand wishes to dedicate this publication to our late monarch, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, savant initiator of this philosophy which has benefited not just the people of Thailand but also countless peoples elsewhere around the globe.


Don Pramudwinai
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand



In 2016, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation decided to create a space for United Nations Member States and other partners to collaborate with us in a unique way, to share their key innovations and successes – implemented at home and replicated across the world. Guided by this conceptualisation, my team and I branded a publication series titled “South-South in Action”. The focus for the publication is selected by the country or institution whose success is highlighted, not by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation.

The Office is proud to present this first publication in the series together with the Government of Thailand. This publication has been compiled at an appropriate time, as Thailand holds the chairmanship of the Group of 77. Furthermore, this compilation comes at a moment when Thailand mourns and remembers the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, architect of the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy and other ideas on sustainable development explored here.

The publication demonstrates that there is no “one size fits all” for contributions to sustainability. That is, local solutions engendered by the culture and character of every nation lend themselves to overcoming the unique challenges of our times.

These initiatives promote ways to make people’s lives better within the natural environment, safeguarding the well-being of future generations, and preserving our home, our planet. Such an endeavor requires a catalyst to engender reflection, the generation of ideas and their effective implementation. This is what His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej did for Thailand

As the world looks for solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, contributions like those shared in this volume will deepen the scope of thinking and facilitate broader South-South and triangular knowledge exchanges.


Jorge Chediek
Envoy of the Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation and Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation