This paper contains a submission by the Thailand representative in a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The theme of the convention is negotiating an agreement on climate adaptation. The paper outline what ecosystem-based adaptation are and why they are a better approach than physical infrastructure. It also outlines the importance of integrating human societies in managing ecosystem in a more ecologically sensitive approach. The paper also outlines the various proposal made by the Thailand government in its effort to build consensus during the convention. It proceeds to describe the benefits of the proposed approaches together with the plan and means of implementation. Some of the approaches discussed in this paper include measures meant to restore and conserve forest and costal ecosystem with a great emphasis on the human participation and the accrued benefits.
Distinguished ladies and gentle men, am here to represent the republic of Thailand in this forum of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. My role here is to present the position of the Thailand government with the aim of building consensus and negotiating an agreement on climate adaptation in Thailand.
As the world stand today, its undeniable fact that climate change is an inevitable phenomenon. The effects of climate change have affected everyone living in this world across all sects of life. Climate change has brought to us adverse implications to natural ecosystems, human communities as well as the physical infrastructures. It is clear that most of our systems, both natural and manmade are vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change and their autonomous adjustments are not sufficient response to halt loss of biodiversity and sustain ecosystem services. If humans do not act quickly enough by bringing in some planned adaptations, our systems are not likely to survive these effects. However, even in the time such dangers of regression and extinction of our natural ecosystem and the need to prepare our nations cope well with the effects of the change, we need to make calculated moves to ensure that our adaptation are sustainable in the long run. Instead of building hard wall to prevent the advancing seawaters, we should come up with action plans aimed at restoring the natural ecosystem to their healthy and well function state. This will enhance their resilience to the damaging effects of climate change as well as reducing the vulnerability of population served by those ecosystems.
The ecosystem-based adaptation gives us the best approach in our effort to mitigate the negative effects of climate change. However, this approach faces with the challenge of making people understand how it work and it is hard to demonstrate it functionality since its results are not immediate. It calls for intervention strategies geared toward conservation of the remnant natural ecosystem, restoration of the depleted one, and integrating human into the ecosystems management by sensitizing them of the need to engage in ecologically friendly activities when exploiting the ecosystem services. Human beings are an integral part of the ecosystem and therefore an extensive consideration of the people interacting with the ecosystem when designing an adaptation plan is a key factor in the success of the plan. Adaption is vital for the developing countries and small islands since their economies largely depend on sectors such as fisheries, tourism, and agriculture, all of which are vulnerable to climate change. Thailand is one of such countries.
Proposals on ecosystem based adaptations
Thailand is not unique to the current global ecological challenges that are facing many nations and the world at large. Its forest cover is diminishing at an alarming rate due to both human activities and natural cause. Forest fires, flooding of river valley and the coastal strips have increased in their both severity and frequency. Agricultural land and natural water reserves are subsiding due to depletion of the water table and wetlands. Thailand is a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol, which aimed at reducing global warming by stabilization of green house gases by reducing sources of emission and increasing removal sinks for the gases. To achieve the goal Thailand has come up with various proposals based on ecosystem management with the aim of making our ecosystem and human societies more resilient in the wake of adverse climatic changes. Our plan targets various human societies as well as natural ecosystem.
The first human community and society is the communities dependent on agricultural for both at subsistence and commercial level. Crop yields are dwindling, despite the fact that much of forestland was cleared to create more land for crop cultivation. Agricultural activities have contributed by a large scale to the destruction of forest though other factors played a role too. It is due to this close relationship between agriculture and forest that drew our focus to this sector in the effort of making the human societies adaptable to challenging effects of climate change. We have given this sector various approaches in order to achieve broader goals than just conserving the ecosystem. The first and paramount to the success of the other approaches is the sensitization of the agricultural communities on the benefits of engaging in ecologically sensitive agricultural practices. Such project will not only help the ecosystem to heal but will give them more yields from their crops. There is also need to sensitize these people on the effects of the poor land use practices to the ecosystem both at their locality as well as the amplified effects globally. Then what follows is to teach them on the appropriate land uses practices that are applicable to their unique agricultural activities. Some of these practices include agro forestry, crop rotation, irrigation farming, erosion control, proper post harvest storage among other practices. Each of this has it benefits both to the farmers and to the ecosystem in general.
For example, agro forestry that encompasses integration of tree planting with crop cultivation can be of multiple benefits. To the farmer, the tree will be a source of fuel and has commercial value thus boasting their financial status. Ecologically the trees add to the removal sinks for the green house gases, play a role in hydrological cycle, and reduce soil erosion. Crop rotation helps to conserve soil nutrients and biologically control pest and diseases. This also reduces the use of inorganic farming chemicals some of which contain some green house gases thus lessening emissions. The result is better crop yield contributing to greater resilience of these communities in coping with effects of climatic change. Irrigation farming acts to shield these communities against seasonal droughts occasioned by the rising global temperatures. Planting cover crops and other proper land management practices helps in controlling soil erosion. This benefits farmer by conserving their soil fertility and ecologically it reduces siltation in the rivers and water bodies thus lessening the extents of flooding. Post harvest losses make communities with stable food production vulnerable to famine despite the fact that their lands have not failed them (Berrang & Ford 2011).
Faced with the challenges of deforestation, the Thailand government has come up with a compressive forestation program aimed at achieving a greener country. Through this plan, the government has targeted increasing forest cover by 5% by rehabilitating depleted forest through tree planting initiatives. At the same time, the government is encouraging farmer to practice agro forestry by providing them with seedling and paying them for any tree planted surviving beyond its fifth year. These projects are currently underway and they picking on very well. However, we face a great financial challenge in trying to make these initiatives a great success. It is at this point that we are appealing to the international aid agencies, international conservation organizations, other nations, and other Non-Governmental Organizations to collaborate with to ensure with achieve green goals.
To cope with the subsiding natural water reserves and the resending water table, human societies need to be enlightened on proper water management practices that will ensure continued water supply for domestic, agricultural, and industrial use. One of these practices involves harvesting rainwater and storing it for use during the dry seasons. The water is treated and used for domestic purposes by proving safe water for drinking. It can also be used for irrigation purposes and achieve benefits as outlined earlier in my presentation. By harvesting rainwater and storing it, the amounts of ground runoffs is reduced hence reducing soil erosion effect of the runoffs and eventually curb siltation of rivers and water bodies. This will go a long way in building stronger resilience ability of various human societies to changes in climate that have destabilized the natural rainfall patterns making them unpredictable. To achieve this, the government of Thailand as working with the communities by providing them with water harvesting techniques, methods, and equipment. The government is currently rehabilitating dam and expanding the capacity of other to enhance water harvesting. Above this, plan are underway to build two more mega dam that will serve to generate hydroelectric power as well be the main water reservoirs supplying water to a number of towns and communities. We have hence negotiated with some of our development partners to fund with this project and the negotiations are at an advance stage.
Our final proposal is on the restoration and conservation of the coast strip ecosystems. Due to the rise in global temperature, the polar ice has melted and drained into the oceans leading the rise of sea levels. This massive siltation on the river deltas has aggravated further the effects of rising seawaters. This has resulted to submerging of coastal settlement and predisposing the communities living near the shoreline to greater and frequent destructive wave actions. Destruction of marshes and the mangrove forest along the shoreline as exposed us the dangerous storms and waves leading to massive floods during the monsoon winds (Leggett 2011). To reduce the damaging effects of the problems brought about by rising sea levels. The most appropriate ecosystem based adaptation to this challenge lies in the restoration of the marshes and mangrove forest. This is they allows natural barrier such as sand dune and beaches to form and stabilize that protecting the coastal communities. Relocation of some coastal communities is also a strategy proposed for considerations. This will open up the natural sediment transport pathways along the shoreline allowing landforms to respond naturally to rising sea levels by allowing marshes and mangrove forest to advance landward thus regaining their protective capacities. Though costly, this strategy can save us a lot in the end by protecting us from the catastrophic effect of higher sea levels. I therefore urge the international community consider adopting these measures aimed at creating communities resilient to climate change
For all the proposals I have outline above, the biggest obstacle to their successful implementation is lack of sufficient funds. Most of them are cost intensive, especially the construction of the mega dam and the relocation of shoreline settlement thus there need to implement them in phases (Strachan et al 2008). The relocation of the shoreline settlement will have a negative impact on the Thailand economy during its initial phases thus there is need to plan carefully and put measure in place to shield the economy from loss of businesses that may result. The government cannot raise enough funds domestically to see the implementation of these projects no matter how much it constrains its budget. We therefore appeal to the flow to our United Nations, through its various organizations to adopt some of the proposals and fund their implementation by directing fund organization back home that are involved in these project. We also seek the support of the IMF through aids and grants.
The other proposed project touching on agriculture and reforestation are currently in progress. The government has embarked on the initiative of enlighten the affected communities through media, agricultural seminars, and public campaign. We have also put in place policies to ensure that the remaining forest and water reserves are protected from further degradation. However, to make the proposals a big success and tap all the benefits, we need more funds to complement the government budgetary allocation. We therefore appeal to the developed countries to collaborate with us through the emissions credit exchange program and direct funds to the local NGOs currently working with the communities involved to oversee the successful implementation of the projects.