Climate change has added new challenges for water management in Thailand, such as increasing extreme weather events and changes in rainfall patterns. Therefore, a more climate-sensitive development of Thailand’s water sector could reduce some of the current pressures on the sector and play a transformative role in supporting long-term sustainable, socio-economic development while adapting to climate change impacts.
In response, a strategy for financing climate change is crucial to strengthen Thailand’s readiness to address climate change challenges and prepare for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
The development of a water fund can be an alternative source of climate finance to ensure climate-resilient water resources management and its sustainability as it unites public, private and civil society stakeholders with the common goal of contributing to water security through nature-based solutions and sustainable watershed management (The Nature Conservancy 2018).
On 19 May 2022, the Office of National Water Resources (ONWR) and GIZ, with the support of Chulalongkorn University, organised a workshop at the Miracle Grand Convention Bangkok, on the Feasibility Study for Establishing Water Funds in the Thai Water Sector based on Water Fee Collection Under the Water Resources Act B.E. 2561 (2018). The important goal of the workshop was to explore ideas and receive opinions from relevant sectors on the possibility of establishing a water fund and its financial mechanism and management which should be aligned with water resources management policies at all levels. This was done through an exchange of examples of international experiences in collection and allocation of financial resources through funds.
The participants demonstrated their interest in the water fund’s development. The river basin representatives recommended that the fund be formed at the basin scale to support activities and development within the basin, while the government suggested that further research should be conducted into current fund development in Thailand as examples for the development of any future water funds.
“The Paris Agreement, Articles 7, no. 3, and 4 state that adaptive efforts by developing country parties must be realised and the need for increased adaptation can lead to increasing costs. This demonstrates the importance of establishing a financial mechanism to support future adjustments on the principle of equality and transparency.” said Mr. Chumlarp Tejasen, Director of Foreign Affairs Division, ONWR. “ONWR, as the country’s water regulatory agency, is of the view that all sectors should come up with a framework/guide to walk together in a participative manner on transparent financial principles and good governance. I hope that this study will be a good opportunity for enhancing and exchanging knowledge between all relevant stakeholders in the process of collecting and allocating water fees under the Water Resources Act B.E. 2561, Section 4. The results of the discussions will lead to the development of policy initiatives for the water fund on the principle of balance and participation that will continue to meet the needs of the country,” Mr. Chumlarp continued.
All the comments and feedback at the workshop were collected and will be used in the study. Chulalongkorn University will further conduct the assessment of the current process of water fee collection under Chapter IV (Water allocation and water user) of the Water Resources Act BE.2561 (2018), as well as related legal, institutional, financial and policy instruments that relate to water funds development to identify the possibility of fund development for water fee management in the Thai water sector.
The study will also provide information on how to set up water funds for water fee management under the Water Resources Act BE.2561 (2018) including objective(s), essential elements for water fund development in the Thai water sector, a roadmap and recommendations for implementation. The findings will be presented to the relevant stakeholders by the end of July 2022.