Thailand’s Alternative Development Showcase: a living exhibition
On 8 July 2021, the Royal Thai Embassy and Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations and Other International Organisations in Vienna organised a reception and an exhibition on “Thailand’s Alternative Development Showcase”, at the garden of the Thai Residence in Vienna. H.E. Ms. Morakot Sriswasdi, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Thailand, together with H.E. Madam Ghada Waly, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna and Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and H.E. Ambassador Désirée Schweitzer, Director-General for Development Cooperation of the Federal Ministry of European and International Affairs, delivered the opening remarks in this occasion.
“Thailand’s Alternative Development Showcase” featured stories and products from Alternative Development programmes in Thailand, namely the Doi Tung Development Project and the Royal Project. The programmes, which was developed from the homegrown “Sufficiency Economy Philosophy”, offered alternative livelihoods to people living in the regions that used to be the source of the majority of opium cultivated in the entire world. They were successful both in eradicating illicit drug crop cultivation in the areas and in providing the local communities, most of whom are from ethnic minority groups, with sustainable sources of income from tourism and selling of products ranging from non-tropical fruits, arabica coffee and macadamia nuts to porcelain wares and fashionable textiles. Moreover, the programmes also returned the forests to the once barren terrain caused by shifting cultivation, and offered an opportunity for the locals to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The success has been recognized by UNODC, which is based in Vienna, and many other internationally-known bodies. “Doi Tung” and “Doi Kham” branded products on display allow the participants to not only hear the stories. They could see, feel, smell and taste the real tangible products, thus experiencing Thailand’s Alternative Development programmes with all their five senses.
Around 70 guests, who were representatives of Austrian Federal Ministries, members of the diplomatic corps and international organizations, as well as business representatives, importers and members of the press, also had an opportunity to experience other aspects of Thai people’s lives by enjoying food from four regions of Thailand, as well as on-stage performances including Thai dances, Muay Thai (Thai boxing), and Thai cooking demonstrations.