Left to Right: Dr. Phirun Saiyasitpanich, Director of Climate Change Management and Coordination Division*, ONEP / Mr. Heinrich Gudenus, Risk NAP project director / Mrs. Pojchanie Kajornpreedanont, Director of Comprehensive Planning Bureau, DPT
The impacts of climate change and urbanisation are converging in unsafe ways
Not only are cities major contributors to climate change because they consume 78 percent of the world’s energy (UN Habitat, 2018) but at the same time, they are severely vulnerable to climate change impacts. Non-directional development and rigid spatial planning could worsen impacts from sea level rise, inland floods, stronger storms or a longer drought period, leading to effects on infrastructure, urban service disruption and quality of life in the cities. For instance, the massive floods in 2011 cost Thailand US$76 million in repair and habitation, $8 million for Bangkok alone. (World Bank, 2012)
The Office and Natural Resources and Policy and Planning (ONEP) and the Department of Public Works and Country & Town Planning (DPT) are on the alert. Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) policy integration framework, ONEP and DPT met on 11 October 2018 to discuss the operational plan to achieve adaptive spatial planning in response to climate change.
(Climate) Policy Integration towards Operationalisation
The discussion focused on a 5-year operational plan between ONEP and DPT, and additional support that the GIZ’s Risk-based National Adaptation Plan Project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), could provide to accelerate the efforts.
The plan includes a strategic action plan for the human settlement sector – agreed indicators, monitoring and evaluation scope, country-wide on-the-job training for adaptive spatial planning, integration of climate data into urban planning database system, and implementation of adaptive spatial planning in selected pilots. Adaptive spatial planning guidelines, including monitoring and assessment, urban design and development are expected from pilot implementation for further implementation.
Policy integration, not only under the framework of MoU between the two agencies, but also other international and national development priorities were considered. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), explicitly Goals 11 and 13 for which both agencies are responsible, were brought to the table to serve international commitments. On the other hand, the 20-year National Strategy played an important role in supporting the integration of long-term climate concerns into business-as-usual development needs.
“There are certainly extra steps to be taken in order to be resilient and adaptive in spatial planning but those extra steps can be integrated into our business as usual planning and budgeting system to ensure the implementation in long run” said Mrs. Pojchanie Kajornpreedanont, Director of Comprehensive Planning Bureau at DPT.
This clearly demonstrates climate change ‘mainstreaming’ theory into practice and also shows strong commitment of different stakeholders to join hands in moving forward climate change actions. “On behalf of ONEP, I have to admit that it is very impressive to see representatives from almost every division under the DPT today. It is a very strong commitment. We (ONEP) are certainly also committed to implement this together with the DPT,” said Dr. Phirun Saiyasitpanich, Director of Climate Change Management and Coordination Division*, ONEP, as he closed the meeting.
Adaptive Spatial Planning allows monitoring of changes, both in climate and socio-economic situation, and adaptable plans that can be changed when knowledge changes (low-regret, co-benefits). It means to plan strategically and collaboratively – coordinate approaches and adaptation measures spatially, involve particularly most vulnerable groups, ensure political and public support, and create synergies.