• Published Date: 27/08/2019
  • by: UNDP

SDGs in Action for Sustainable Tourism at Plean Yod Tarn Community with APYE


A mention of a coconut farm may bring to mind a picture of fresh, full coconut in your hand, ready to quench your thirst. But that very coconut has more to offer: coconut oil that is added to skincare products, the meat of mature coconuts that are extracted for coconut milk, or coconut blossoms – chan in Thai – from which the sap is used to make coconut sugar. In search of 100% natural coconut sugar, we went to a local farm and we saw all the hard work that goes into making it. It is no exaggeration to say all-natural coconut sugar is hard to come by nowadays.



We had an opportunity to follow the coconut farmers at Nang Ta Khian Sub-district, Samut Songkhram Province along with a group of young people from different countries thanks to the Asia Pacific Youth Exchange (APYE) program’s collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). In this sixth iteration of the exchange program in Thailand, the youth got to stay with the local community for one week.



We learned how to make coconut sugar from our hosts, a new generation of farmers who have enlisted the locals to preserve their community’s traditional knowledge before it faded away with time. The young farmers asserted the value of their local heritage and resources, and eventually were able to strengthen the bond of the community. On top of getting to be a farmer for a day, we gained an insight into the community’s genial and harmonious way of life – all reflected in the warm smiles of the aunts and uncles we met.



Equally important is being on the ground to explore the community and learn about various issues relevant to development through talking and working with the people in the community. This opened up an opportunity for the youth participants to discuss and become part of community development. They were able to present ideas and proposals for the locals to take up to promote sustainable tourism in accordance with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations’ global goals for a better world.



You may have heard about sustainable tourism before, and you may wonder how we can promote tourism while balancing economic, social and environmental development, and ensuring participation from community members, the government, private sector, and tourists to protect the community’s livelihood and quality of life.


Let’s hear from Chareef Wattana, a law student at Thammasat University and one of this year’s APYE youth participants.



Why did you decide to apply to the APYE program?

One of the courses I’ve taken at Thammasat is Civic Engagement (TU100) so I’ve learned the basics of the Sustainable Development Goals. Thammasat is a university that cares about the environment and sustainability, which is very much aligned with the objectives of APYE.

“So being part of the program, I got to apply what I’ve learned to real work, theory to practice. I got to conduct a survey, identify problems in the community, and come together with youths from different countries to find possible solutions from our diverse perspectives.”



What is Plean Yod Tarn’s approach to sustainable development?

Plean Yod Tarn is a community-based social enterprise that was started by two young farmers together with the elders in Nang Ta Khian. Their initiative has led to better economy and livelihood for the community. Their product is environmentally friendly and that is a stepping stone to achieving other SDGs.

“First, I think it’s about participation. Because to mobilize actions for the SDGs, it takes more than a single person; it needs participation from different actors, from community leaders, people in that community, to young people. All of them are stakeholders when it comes to developing a particular community.”



What is the goal of sustainable tourism?

Attracting tourists to create jobs and income would advance the economy of the community. But we should keep in mind that their visits would not disrupt the locals’ way of life, both culturally and socially. We should also think about environment protection: how do we let people come into their environment without destroying it?

“The key objective of sustainable tourism development is being responsible for ecosystems and communities. Because sustainability is not just about today or tomorrow. It’s about this generation, the next generation, and the ones to come.”

“[It] isn’t just about today or tomorrow. It’s about this generation, the next generation, and the ones to come.”



How are youth important drivers of SDGs?

Youth are the future. They can do and will have time to do so much for our country. Most of them are now in university, acquiring knowledge in different areas of study. They will apply what they have learned to practice, and they will be proud of themselves for it.

“What we learn now isn’t just for a day job we’ll have in 4-5 years’ time. It is also for making an impact in your community, coming up with solutions to existing problems, and influencing policy change, urging the government or relevant agencies to recognize and redress the problems.



What did you take away from the program ?

Throughout the week where we got to interact with the locals, we saw how they genuinely felt about their community. One lady we talked to said she wanted to see her community making coconut sugar again. This sparked something in her and got her thinking about what they could do to preserve local knowledge and heritage and pass them on to future generations.

“It was such a new experience for me. I never knew we had so many great products and stories behind them. I feel hopeful that some people are thinking about developing the community and bringing about positive change. They make me want to do my part in making that happen, too.”


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  • Published Date: 20/08/2019
  • by: UNDP

Cure Violence: When Violence is a Contagious Disease

Cure Violence: When Violence is a Contagious Disease

In this age of civilization and technological advancement, we still see news of violence happening daily in every corner of the world. The United States, for example, often receives global attention due to repeated gun violence and mass shootings in public space. Only at the beginning of this month, two mass shootings took place in Ohio and Texas in a span of 14 hours.

How can we prevent incidents like these from happening again?

Dr. Gary Slutkin, an American epidemiologist and the founder of Cure Violence, a public health anti-violence program, once stated: “violence is a contagious disease.” He spent over a decade working for the World Health Organization combating tuberculosis, cholera and AIDS epidemics in Asia and Africa. The diseases were very rare in the US by the time Slutkin returned home, but he saw another type of outbreak that violently affects people across the country: mass shootings that strike tragedy in schools and other public places. A basic response to this would be criminal punishment for the perpetrator, which might or might not result in a change of conduct. Another way to cure violence is to tackling the root cause, from problems at school, poverty, broken homes, drugs to racism, but these far from light and simple tasks.

Slutkin realized that the incidence of violence is similar to that of an epidemic. That is, it is spread from one case to another, one person to another. So he concludes that the steps to reducing violence are similar to what we do to reverse epidemics, which are:

            1. Interrupting transmission  – Detecting violence from the first cases the way we identify a person who has active tuberculosis and is infecting other people.

            2. Preventing future spread – Identifying those who are at the risk of infecting the disease, or perpetrating violence.

            3. Changing group norms  – This is done through collective activities and education remodelling, which would build up immunity among the community.

Slutkin’s method begins with hiring a group of people as violence interrupters. They can be someone in the community or in a gang who has credibility, trust and access in the target community. One category of interrupters is then trained in the art of persuasion and calming people down while the other act as outreach workers, responsible for high-risk individuals, keeping them in therapy from 6-24 months with an aim to change their behaviour. Following that change, the workers would put together community activities to change group norms.

Cure Violence was first launched in 2000 in West Garfield Park, one of the most violence-ridden communities in Chicago. In the first year, the program reduced the number of mass shootings by 67% before expanding to other cities across America. Today, more than 50 communities have adopted its model. The program also organizes violence prevention training for representatives in other countries, particularly those in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. In most of these countries, Cure Violence could reduce violence by 40-70% in its first year and is seen as a valid approach to prevent tragedies no one knows when to expect.



1. http://cureviolence.org/

2. https://www.ted.com/talks/gary_slutkin_let_s_treat_violence_like_a_contagious_disease#t-665523


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  • Published Date: 08/08/2019
  • by: UNDP

Because “us” and “them” are the same


The conflict begins with a mere thought of “us” against “them”. The two simple pronouns draw a dividing line between people that can eventually breed conflict. While some countries clash and fight to have certain things their ways, others go about it harmoniously and empathetically by understanding the strength of diversity. How do they do it?

Even though there has been a fewer number of wars in the past 10 years, what remains and actually increases over time is the conflict among human relationship. Be it at a national level, in society, within an organization, or between people, this type of conflict has done more damage than imaginable.

Since 2016, many countries have found themselves amidst violent conflicts unseen in 30 years prior. The number of conflict-related fatalities has doubled, and this is the turning point for humanity, where it began to broaden its understanding of conflict, from getting to the root cause, studying its increasing rate, recurrences and ongoing state, to having a common goal of finding sustainable approaches to conflict prevention.


The dividing line of “us and them”

Many might think conflict arises when guns and violence are involved – when in fact conflict is much more easily provoked. Just think of the words “us” and “them”. These two simple pronouns carry depths beneath the surface that divide people and eventually breed conflict.

How “us and them” come into conflict

 Race and skin colour – These two are strictly intertwined because human categorization of race is based on the distinct natural trait of skin colour. The June 1951 general conference between UNESCO and physical anthropologists in Paris concludes there are three main racial groups of all humans in the world: Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Negroid. However, should we agree with this conclusion?

Religion – 4,200 is the number of religious people around the world practice and put their faith in according to their will and background. One glaring example of a religious conflict is the Crusades War between Christian and Muslim population of Europe which happened in a total of 8 times to capture Jerusalem. The wars lasted nearly 200 years killing over seven million people and inflicting substantial loss and damage. Many violent conflicts today happen because religion is used as a “weapon” to divide people.

Language – On this earth that makes up of 195 countries recognized by the UN, there are approximately 6,500 languages and almost 2,000 more that are about to become extinct. The languages we use to speak and write daily are another factor that can separate people and fuel conflict. A common everyday occurrence would be people looking down on others because of the way they speak, whether from “unclear” articulation or differing accents.

There are also other factors like attitude, belief, gender and inequitable access to opportunities that can’t be measured in numbers. The UN estimates the world population is expected to rise from 7,600 million in 2019 to 9,800 million in 2050, which means there will be even much more diversity in the world.

So how do we live peacefully amidst diversity?



 Understanding diversity: we’re different yet we’re the same

The topic of diversity has been much in public discourse in the past two years, including the #MeToo movement that created waves around the world after many actresses came forward with sexual abuse allegations against a big Hollywood producer; the fight to end discrimination and hate crimes against LGBTIQ people; and the Singapore model of pluralistic society, uniting diverse peoples and cultures of Chinese, Indians, Malaysians and many more to bridge the gap of conflict and deepen the understanding of diversity.

Understanding diversity begins with simple actions: listen, talk and cooperate.

Listen – Deep listening gives you a head start in understanding other people. Deep listening is a way of hearing in which we let of initial assumptions and the voice of judgement that clangs inside our head. We listen without reacting and interrupting, listen while suspending control and opinion.

Talk – Similar to listening, talking or inviting people around you to find a common way to be together in harmony is easier than you might think. This is because, as the status quo prevails, we don’t talk enough or don’t have enough diversity at the table. So, be as wide-reaching and find as much diversity as you can. Give importance to all nationalities, ages, genders as well as groups and organizations that may not believe in different things you do. This gives you an opportunity to see and explore different ideas and cultures.

Cooperate – Build cooperation and alliances between individuals, communities, organizations and even countries to find a common understanding of diversity and prevent conflict through knowledge-building activities, events or innovations, particularly ones that promote a society where everyone can take part in addressing various issues at a cooperative level.


Case study: Teeter-Totter Wall, or the pink seesaw on the US-Mexico border

A few months ago, a series of barriers were built along the US-Mexico border following President Trump’s executive order to prevent illegal immigration to the US. The order, publicized with falsehoods, including tens of thousands of illegal immigrants’ coming to “steal” American jobs, smuggling drugs, and operating human trafficking and gang crimes, paints a negative picture of Mexican immigrants as a threat to national security. Many conflicts and controversies followed the inception of Trump’s wall, especially those centring around racism in the US that has become more severe and increased the economic and social disparity.

But humans can’t be segregated by race or a wall. This is the idea that informs a group of artists and academics from various universities behind Teeter-Totter Wall, the installation of pink seesaws between the slatted barrier on the US-Mexico border. The simple act of playing a seesaw signifies and strengthens the connection between people on the two sides of the border. Not to mention it’s a fun, friendly and bias-free activity. On their intended meaning, the creators said, “The border wall has become a fuse in US-Mexico relations. We want both children and adults to connect in a meaningful way. Actions that take place on one side always have a direct consequence on the other side.”


Youth Co:Lab

In addition to what’s mentioned, young people play an important role in deepening our understanding of diversity, addressing dividing issues and managing conflicts. One way they can do this is through Youth Co:Lab, a UNDP initiative that enhances young people capacity through social innovation and entrepreneurship. The program returns under the theme “Embracing Diversity” to advocate people to “Respect Differences, Embrace Diversity.”

The program provides youth with an opportunity to attend workshops and develop their ideas into fruition. They will get to meet specialists and innovators from various sectors and pitch their project for funding support. Young people aged between 18-29 are invited to form a team of 3-4 and submit their project proposal. Youth Co:Lab 2019 will call for application in a few days.

Keep an eye on the program at www.youthcolabthailand.org and Thailand Social Innovation Platform Facebook





– สหประชาชาติและธนาคารโลก 2018 “วิถีสู่สันติ: แนวทางครอบคลุมเพื่อป้องกันความขัดแย้งรุนแรง” บทสรุปผู้บริหาร ธนาคาร วอชิงตัน ดีซี. ใบอนุญาตครีเอทีฟคอมมอนส์ ซีซีโดย 3.0 ไอจีโอ



Submit Project

There are many innovation platforms all over the world. What makes Thailand Social Innovation Platform unique is that we have created a Thai platform fully dedicated to the SDGs, where social innovators in Thailand can access a unique eco system of entrepreneurs, corporations, start-ups, universities, foundations, non-profits, investors, etc. This platform thus seeks to strengthen the social innovation ecosystem in Thailand in order to better be able to achieve the SDGs. Even though a lot of great work within the field of social innovation in Thailand is already happening, the area lacks a central organizing entity that can successfully engage and unify the disparate social innovation initiatives taking place in the country.

This innovation platform guides you through innovative projects in Thailand, which address the SDGs. It furthermore presents how these projects are addressing the SDGs.

Aside from mapping cutting-edge innovation in Thailand, this platform aims to help businesses, entrepreneurs, governments, students, universities, investors and others to connect with new partners, projects and markets to foster more partnerships for the SDGs and a greener and fairer world by 2030.

The ultimate goal of the platform is to create a space for people and businesses in Thailand with an interest in social innovation to visit on a regular basis whether they are looking for inspiration, new partnerships, ideas for school projects, or something else.

We are constantly on the lookout for more outstanding social innovation projects in Thailand. Please help us out and submit your own or your favorite solutions here

Read more

  • What are The Sustainable Development Goals?
  • UNDP and TSIP’s Principles Of Innovation
  • What are The Sustainable Development Goals?


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