Thai communities battling to end toxic industrial pollution will receive boost: EU and environmental justice groups honour local struggles

5.6.2019 - BANGKOK / PRAGUE
PHOTO: Ecological Alert and Recovery – Thailand

On the occasion of World Environment Day, social and environmental justice advocates from Arnika and Ecological Alert and Recovery - Thailand (EARTH) work to best utilize the financial backing from the small grants facility amounting to a total of € 22,500 (almost THB 800,000) which will be provided by the European Union.

Across Thailand, people face environmental challenges linked to industrial pollution. In many cases, emissions exceed international standards and cause serious health damage. According to environmentalists, the communities that are affected have already expressed interest in organizing their own activities, but they often face financial obstacles.

“At present, local communities are victims of industrial promotion policies especially with the growth of uncontrolled harmful facilities. Meanwhile, the environmental and health governance measures have been substantially diminished by the revision and deregulation of the environmental laws that are issued. Local community-based organizations improve the living conditions of residents in these areas. The small grants supported by international organizations, such as the EU, enable communities to increase their monitoring capacity and, most importantly, build bargaining power. With this strength, they can take matters into their own hands, changing the lives of our people," stated Akarapon Teebthaisong of EARTH.

In a similar way, Arnika and EARTH have previously supported, through EU funds, communities in Ang Thong, Samut Sakhon, and Loei. All of them helped form successful and sustainable movements, and some even achieved favorable judicial results regarding compensation for water pollution. Detailed information on the current call for proposals from the small grant program, including the conditions for applying, can be found in Thai on EARTH's websites.

According to Arnika's project coordinator, Jitka Strakova, such programs contribute to strengthen local civil society. "Small grants help not only solve ambient pollution problems on the spot, but they also teach the communities to organize their work and to gain opportunities for further grant applications in the future, but this time with official grant agencies," the Czech Environmentalist, Strakova, believes.

Beat air pollution
Thailand suffers from environmental contamination from toxic chemicals. These contaminated areas are mainly around large industrial complexes located near the city of Bangkok. In February 2019, the Thai capital was placed seventh on the list of polluted cities in the world, according to the Air Quality Index. While the Northern Thai city of Chiang Mai ranked in fifth place.                 

The theme of this year's United Nations World Environment Day, marked worldwide annually on June 5th, is the issue of air pollution. Its aim is #BeatAirPollution and to “call to combat this global crisis. Chosen by this year's host, China, this year's topic invites us all to consider how we can change our everyday lives to reduce the amount of air pollution we produce, and thwart its contribution to global warming and its effects on our own health," the UN website states.

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