Authorities built foundation for resilient town planning
Extreme weather events are not new phenomena in Thailand. We have seen and experienced the impacts, in the like of the massive flooding in the 14 provinces in the southern region, the flood inundated 65 provinces in 2011, severe drought in 30 provinces and Tsunami hitting the southern region in 2004 gave a huge impact on the population’s lives and the economy.
In the acceleration of climate change, it could exacerbate the climate-related risks, hazards and the likelihood of severe and pervasive impacts.
Climate change has no border. It affects urban and rural areas. Particularly, the vulnerable cities and populations will endure significant impacts. To protect urban and rural dwellers and the country economy, towns and cities need to make themselves more resilient.
Taking visionary actions and building foundation
To counter this, Urban Development Training Institute (UDTI), Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning (DPT), Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) and GIZ made collaborative effort and brought together 130 spatial planners from all regions in Thailand to develop understanding of climate change adaptation, mitigation and urban resilience in the workshop “Spatial Planning and the 12thNational Economic and Social Development Plan for promoting sustainable urban development” on 12-13 March 2019. It also pulled in Thai and international experts from the University of Stuttgart, the Technical University of Dortmund and Chulalongkorn University to give input and showcased their research findings through cases study of Thailand and Germany.
Mrs Anchalee Rewthongchai, Director of Urban Development and Training Institute (UDTI) said, “DPT sets goals to develop comprehensive spatial plans at district level which include locations for the industrial estates, housings, trades, social services, health and education and increase competitiveness. This include planning for environmentally-friendly growth, improvement of the quality of life, reduction of economic, social and public service disparities in the urban, outskirts and rural areas, in order to build the balance of the environmental infrastructure system, preservation of the community’s identity and reduction of losses from natural disasters.”
“Spatial planning can play a crucial role to enable climate action both on mitigation and adaptation. Recent developments in the planning regulations and efforts to improve the spatial planning practices in Thailand are providing good opportunities to effectively address the role of spatial planning in climate action and resilience building. We take decisions that have long-term effects and set the framework conditions for other parts of our society and economy to take action.” said Mr Heinrich Gudenus, Director of Risk NAP project, GIZ Thailand.
A thread of significant factors
The new challenges of future spatial development planning process will need to consider both socio-economic factors while addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation to avoid and mitigate long-term impacts on human settlement.
The climate hazards that affect each region in Thailand such as flood from overflow of the rivers in and outside city centers, forest flood, Tsunami, landslide, forest fire, coastline erosion, storm, change in precipitation, rise of average temperature, etc. were listed and analysed. The discussion led on to the factors to be encompassed in the work including
Open space and environment protection
Development control in hazard-prone areas
Urban design regulations
Access to improved infrastructure and sustainable livelihood development
The discussion of each region included, for instance, planning the green areas for storing or draining flood water or for recreation, the locations of the hospitals or emergency services in non-hazard-prone areas and accessible for all, the locations of new streets to reduce the impacts of disasters, evacuation routes, inclusion of vulnerable groups of the population in the planning process, etc.
Importantly, the region groups brainstormed the potential cooperation with local authorities to drive successful implementation.
What lies ahead
The knowledge, findings and results of this training will be applied into the development of drafted conceptual comprehensive spatial plans. Concrete roles and functions with the integration of climate change issues will be addressed which will also help accelerate spatial planning process more efficiently. The draft is expected to be complete within the end of 2019 before furthering into the country’s legal processes.