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SEI in Thailand

Over the last decades Thailand has climbed the development ladder upwards to become an upper-middle income country with the second largest economy in Southeast Asia.  Though agriculture still employs the majority of Thailand’s population of 69 million, the sector’s economic clout has been dwindling in recent years, which exacerbates inequality and rural poverty, and jeopardizes livelihoods. This changing climate therefore stands as a key challenge for a predominately agrarian population. Environmental problems, such as severe air pollution and increasing waste generation, have risen along with economic growth and urbanization.

Photo: SEI

Areas of Work

SEI partners with a wide range of stakeholders in Thailand and the surrounding Mekong region to generate knowledge and link scientific-based research with policy makers. SEI activities in Thailand address transboundary environmental and social challenges with transnational impacts such as climate change, air pollution and the promotion of sustainable practices to reduce CO2 emissions.  SEI has projects in the country that focus on water management, gender and social equality, sustainable natural resource management, urban development and building community resilience to address climate change and extreme climate change-related events.


Transboundary cooperation in the Mekong region on adaptation to climate change and hydropower development

SEI’s regional policy platform in the Lancong-Mekong region works to enhance communications and provide technical solutions to climate change related issues, water resource management and the impacts of hydropower projects, and their possible roles in reducing the risks from climate change uncertainties through adaptation and mitigation. SEI’s collaborative partnership aims at to reduce risks faced by riparian communities due to water flow level fluctuations and impacts of extreme weather events triggered by climate change


SEI engages with a wide group of research and knowledge producers in the Mekong region as host of the Secretariat of the Sustainable Mekong Research Network. SUMERNET supports research and policy engagement on key sustainability issues in the region. Thailand has been at the heart of the SUMERNET research agenda that has produced scientific knowledge on the country’s efforts to mitigate climate change effects and support local livelihoods and sustainable natural resource management.

Young women, girls and climate change

SEI collaborated with Plan International to better understand the different climate risks, vulnerabilities, resilience, and climate challenges faced by young women and girls in Northern Thailand. The project encourages decision-makers, donors and development actors to take action and adopt gender-sensitive and child-centred climate change adaptation policies, programmes and financing.

Just transitions to a low-carbon economy

Realizing a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels: SEI conducted research on the equity dimensions of policies that support “just transitions” to a low-carbon economy that minimize disruption for workers and communities reliant on fossil fuel. The research focused on two countries – Thailand and US – to highlight key considerations and opportunities for improving justice and equity outcomes in transition policy and planning.

Gender, social equality and sustainability certification in Thai smallholder rubber production

This project addressed gender and social equality issues in rubber wood certification and production in rural Southern Thailand.  Smallholder farmers were targeted with the aim to investigate the barriers and gaps in implementation of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification schemes in Thailand with a gender and social equality lenses.

Gender support analysis

Since 2015 SEI has been continuously supporting its partners in Thailand by undertaking a gender analysis during project and programme implementation. SEI provides scientific-based guidance on designing programmes with a gender sensitive approach and embedding gender issues  in programme activities and management, in addition to building effective monitoring systems.  SEI is currently conducting a gender analysis in Thailand’s energy sector.

City Health and Wellbeing (CHeW) Initiative

This initiative investigates how rapidly-growing cities are affecting the wellbeing of residents, and how this interacts with the overall health of city systems.  Novel methods of data generation and collection were employed across four interconnected activities in two case study locations (Nakuru in Kenya and Udon Thani in Thailand). The new SEI-generated evidence aims at guiding policy recommendations to equitably maximize the well-being of urban populations without undermining their resilience while also minimizing resource consumption.

Closing the loop

The growing burden of plastic waste in the Asia-Pacific region led to the Closing the Loop Initiative, a project partnership between SEI, and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). Through this initiative SEI aims to foster development pathways that promote the sustainable use of natural resources in order to address the negative impact of plastic waste production on the environment, natural resources, human well-being and the economy. Two cases studies were carried out: in Thailand (Bangkok) and India (Pune). The studies informed the development of a regional policy guide for Asian cities.

Bioeconomy in Thailand

The SEI Initiative on Governing Bioeconomy Pathways aims to better articulate the alternative pathways available for a bioeconomy that produces materials, foods and feeds, fuels and more from biological resources. In 2018, this initiative paid special attention to Thailand’s current bioeconomy development scenario to serve as guidance for national planning and future research on the emergence of bioeconomies at a global level.

Reducing Carbon Emissions in Thailand

Under engagement with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, SEI is guiding a team at Thailand’s Pollution Control Department to develop an action plan for reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants from transport and various other sectors. SEI has been providing guidance on modelling emissions and mitigation options, including workshops and recommendations.

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