Thailand has become the first country in Asean to sign an agreement with the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme to promote the country’s initiatives towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) signed an agreement with the UNV yesterday. It will allow the university to send students to work at UN agencies to focus on SDGs.
The 17 global goals cover a range of social issues such as poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy and social justice.
At the initial stage, KMUTT plans to send 20-25 students, or around five a year, to work as volunteers on development projects related to science and technology and the environment in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, said KMUTT president Sakarindr Bhumiratana. The university will cover part of the cost.
The project will also serve as an instrument to promote regional cooperation among Asean countries. As well, Thai volunteers will promote the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej across the region.
Olivier Adam, executive coordinator of the UNV programme, said the campaign will allow young people to gain “transformative experiences” and make a difference to the world.
The programme is backed by the UN General Assembly to advance the role of youth in development through volunteerism.
“The world must support [young people’s] energy and efforts and also must help foster within young women and men the important values of solidarity and meaningful civic participation,” said Mr Adam.
“KMUTT is one of the top academic institutions in Thailand, with their long-standing reputation for development. We are grateful for their commitment in walking towards the path of sustainability,” he added.
The university has already launched several projects along these lines, such as introducing pollution sensors across Thailand’s rivers to help monitor wastewater, says UNDP Thailand Deputy Resident Representative Martin Hart-Hansen.
“Thailand, like every other country in the world, is facing a lot of problems that the SDGs address. I believe one of Thailand’s greatest concerns is climate change,” he said.
“Thailand is the perfect place to begin this initiative in the Asean region as we have several UN agencies based in this country. The country will also play an important role as the Asean chair, in which we will work together further to implement sustainability in the region.”
Around 60% of the world’s youth live in the Asia-Pacific region.