Global experience shows that growing first and cleaning up later rarely works. Rather, it is in countries’ interest to prioritize green and clean growth. This also holds true for Thailand, a country with rich natural resources contributing significantly to its wealth.
According to World Bank data, annual natural resource depletion in Thailand accounted for 4.4 percent of Gross National Income in 2012, and it has been rising rapidly since 2002. The rate of depletion is comparable to other countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, but it is almost three times faster than the rate in the 1980s.
Rapid natural resource depletion in Thailand is increasingly visible in reduced forest areas. Illegal logging and smuggling have led to a decline from 171 million rai of forested area in 1961 to 107.6 million rai in 2009. Coastal communities face erosion, ocean waste, and illegal, destructive fishing. The coasts are also increasingly vulnerable to storm surges and sea level rise, due to continued destruction of mangroves and coral reefs.