Thailand Climate Leader 2019: Dr. Wijarn Simachaya

Dr. Wijarn Simachaya, President of Thailand Environment Institute

Dr. Wijarn Simachaya is currently serving as the President of Thailand Environment Institute (TEI). He is the former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), Thailand. Dr. Simachaya has played an active role in facilitating climate change and environment-related policies in Thailand. To formulate these policies, he serves as a prominent member of the Thailand Bio-diversity Network Alliance Advisory Committee. 

In MoNRE, the main responsibilities of Dr. Simachaya included natural resources and environmental plans, climate change policy formulation, strategy development, and international cooperation on natural resources and environment issues. Furthermore, he represents the ministry in various UN, Sub-regional, and ASEAN forums. Previously, he has worked as a leader of green growth and government reform strategy development for the country. 

Currently, Dr. Simachaya is serving as a chairman of Thailand’s long-term strategy (20-year plan) on natural resources and environmental management including water resources management, sustainable forest management, pollution control management and environmental governance for the Ministry. He also served as a supervisor of 16 departments and public organizations of the ministry, along with 76 provincial offices for natural resources and environment throughout Thailand.

There are several discourses that Dr. Wijarn Simachaya has made about environmental issues and climate change. In 2018, to elaborate upon Thailand’s effort to tackle climate change, Dr. Simachaya said, “by the end of 2018, Thailand will launch our National Adaptation Plan for adaptation goals. Thailand is thus on track in setting a path domestically to contribute to global efforts to fight climate change”.  Recently, Dr. Simachaya gave an important speech about Smart Water Management during the Thai Water Expo 2019. Here, he stated, “Thailand and ASEAN are moving towards new industrial development and future industries, and it is necessary for them to understand water and wastewater management”. Similarly, in an academic seminar this year, Dr. Simachaya suggested measures to tackle air pollution generated from PM 2.5 sources. In this regard, he mentioned, “I recently visited Seoul to discuss their experiences in combating PM2.5 air pollution. I learned that South Korea has a set of procedures to guide agencies on how strictly they should enforce environmental-protection regulations and execute measures to reduce the release of pollution at every source, based on the severity of the smog situation at any given time”.  Here, he spoke about the step Thailand is taking to address air pollution by mentioning, “The PCD (Pollution Control Department) has prepared a similar emergency-response plan based on the severity of the air pollution, which has already been presented to the Cabinet”.   

Dr. Wijarn Simachaya has published 5 research reports in the fields of water quality assessment & monitoring, water resource studies, and water policies. The lists of these research reports include “Wastewater Tariffs in Thailand”, “An Implementation Plan for Using Biological Indicators to Improve Assessment of Water Quality in Thailand”, “Water Quality Situation in the Chao Phraya Delta”, “Water Quality Monitoring and Modelling Application in Thailand”, and “Policy and Implementation on Water Environment in Thailand”. 

Finally, one major challenge for Dr. Simachaya has been to address the needs of the local indigenous communities in Thailand. He is currently the chairman of the committee responsible for the living arrangements for the sea-gypsies as well as the Karen hill-tribe communities in Thailand. The houses of the Moken sea-gypsies in Moo Koh Surin in Phangnga, Thailand were destroyed by a fire on February 3, 2019. After the fire, around “three-quarters of 81 thatched-roofed houses burned down to the ground”. This compelled Dr. Simachaya and the Thai Government to provide relief aids for the Moken sea-gypsies affected by the fire. However, “concerns have been raised that the “top-down” assistance given by the Thai Government may not reflect the actual needs of the Moken sea-gypsies community”. This led to the resentment of the affected sea-gypsies community against the Thai government. As a result on February 11, 2019 “a network of Andaman sea-gypsies led by Witthawat Thepsong, petitioned the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Wijarn Simachaya, to halt the reconstruction of new homes for affected victims”. Here, Mr. Witthawat argued “construction of the new houses fails to take into account the needs of the Moken people. With only 3 by 6.5 metres of space allotted for each home are too small.” Therefore, providing housing facilities, which best-fits the real needs for the Moken sea-gypsies, is being considered by Dr. Simachaya. Through the joint discussions with the affected sea-gypsies community, plans are being made by Dr. Simachaya to facilitate appropriate housing policies for such indigenous communities, which best fit their needs in the long-run. 

Dr. Wijarn Simachaya has indeed been an effective spokesperson in the MoNRE, Government of Thailand. He has played an active role under the MoNRE in implementing measures for environmental protection and climate change mitigation. Through his strong expertise in the field of water-quality study and management, Dr. Simachaya is  able to formulate, amend, and adopt well-structured national water management projects in Thailand both at present and in the coming years. Finally, by serving as a current President of the Thailand Environment Institute (TEI) and as a prominent member of different international forums such as the UN and ASEAN, he has been active in addressing climate change issues in Thailand. In this regard, he is promoting different training programs, international seminars, and stakeholder workshops nationally to design appropriate technologies for addressing climate change concerns in Thailand.

LEARN MORE

To know more about Dr. Wijarn Simachaya, and about his experiences, achievements and responsibilities, please visit: https://thailandbdna.com/dr-wijarn-simachaya/  and http://www.tei.or.th/en/executive.php

To know more about the 5 research articles published by Dr. Simachaya, please visit: https://www.researchgate.net/scientific-contributions/2054452203_Wijarn_Simachaya

To know more about the speech by Dr. Simachaya about Thailand’s efforts to tackle climate change, please visit: https://www.thai-german-cooperation.info/en_US/germany-invests-thb-690-million-in-new-thai-climate-programme/

To know more about the speech by Dr. Simachaya during the Thai Water Expo 2019, please visit: http://thainews.prd.go.th/en/news/detail/TCATG190607114831754

To know more about the speech by Dr. Simachaya about smog and air pollution reduction efforts in Thailand, please visit: https://www.nationthailand.com/national/30364348

To know more about the challenges experienced by Dr. Wijarn Simachaya in addressing the needs of Moken sea-gypsies communities in Thailand, please visit: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/special-reports/1630670/the-moken-fight-for-more-space

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