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Bangkok Metropolitan Region (BMR) as a Sustainable Gastronomy Destination: Collective Leadership for Collective Impact...

Bangkok as a living example that demonstrates how collaboration and food system can transform big city to be a sustainable harmony city.

Photo of Udom Hongchatikul
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Sustainable Food Lab (Thailand)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

WWF (Thailand) Large NGO (over 50 employees) Suan Sampran Large company (over 50 employees) Social Lab (Thailand) Small company (under 50 employees)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

https://organictourismthailand.com, https://www.sociallabthailand.com

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Nakorn Pathom

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Thailand

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Bangkok Metropolitan Region (BMR) in Thailand, covers a total area of 7,762 km^2.

What country is your selected Place located in?

Thailand

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Bangkok has been the capital city of Thailand for more than 200 years. The metropolis of Bangkok has gradually grown up into one of the world's populated cities with a registered population of over 5.6 million and estimated actual population of up to 12 million. The explosive growth of the urbanization of Bangkok started in the fifties and sixties. Bangkok continues to be the major center of economic activities, which mainly rely on industry, trade and services. 

As the principal gateway for arriving visitors, Bangkok is visited by the majority of international tourists to the country.  The number of foreign tourists to Thailand in 2019, totaled 39.62 million, up 3.8% from 2018, generating revenue of 1.93 trillion baht, up 2.9%. This has led to Bangkok’s being among the most visited cities in the world. 

One of the major reasons many people prefer Bangkok is food. With the long-rooted history of Thai cuisine and its openness to multicultural gastronomy, Bangkok is offering a wide variety of foods from authentic Thai tastes to innovative fusions and from street food to fine-dining. As a result, Bangkok’s gastronomic scenes can appeal to diverse groups of people, both domestic and tourists. As we, Sustainable Food Lab (Thailand) and partners, are working to achieve sustainable food system in Thailand, we believe bringing changes to Bangkok as a sustainable gastronomy destination would create rippled and multiplied effects to the world. 

The number of foreign tourists to Thailand in 2019, totalled 39.62 million, up 3.8% from 2018, generating revenue of 1.93 trillion baht, up 2.9%. This has led to Bangkok’s being among the most visited cities in the world. 

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Bangkok is located in the center of the country, along the Chao Phraya River, a major river of Thailand with a fertile land for agriculture. It is also known as the food basket of the world. Along this river there is the main harbor of Thailand, making Bangkok the gateway for international and national trade. It has a long history as a capital of Thailand since the Rattanakosin period for over 230 years. Bangkok is therefore very rich in architecture, history, touristic attractions, local business and gastronomy, being most visited cities in the world. With an agglomeration with the neighboring provinces known as Bangkok Metropolitan Region (BMR) which covered 5 provinces namely: Nakorn Pathom, Patum Thani, Nonthaburi, Samutprakarn, and Samutsakorn, it has been a center of food production and consumption hub of the country. 

Nakhon Pathom features an ancient religious structure called Phra Pathom Chedi, the first religious landmark that signified the influx of Buddhism into Thailand. Nakhon Pathom is also renowned for its abundant fruit varieties and famous dishes.

Pathum Thani is a province located on the alluvial plain of the Chao Phraya River. Therefore, there are many rice fields. It is also a planting location of vegetables supplied for fresh markets in town and the two gigantic central markets of the country; namely, Si Mum Mueang Market and Talad Thai.

Nonthaburi due to its close proximity to Bangkok, the city is actually considered to be a suburb of the national capital.

Samut Prakan is located around the area where the Chao Phraya River flows into the Gulf of Thailand. The town dates from the Ayutthaya period, home to countless historical and cultural sites.

Samut Sakhon is located at the mouth of the Tha Chin River, a distributary of the Chao Phraya River, to the Gulf of Thailand. At the coast, there are many salt pans used for harvesting sea salt. 

The 2018 population of Thailand was estimated to be 69,428,453 and is mostly rural. It is concentrated in the rice growing areas of the central, northeastern, and northern regions. Millions of Thai migrate from rural areas to cities, then return to their place of origin to help with seasonal field work. Officially they have rural residency, but spend most of the year in urban areas, especially in BMR.

The metropolis of Bangkok has gradually grown up into one of the world's populated cities with a registered population of over 5.6 million and estimated actual population of about 12 million. 

Bangkok's sights, attractions, and city life appeal to diverse groups of tourists. Royal palaces and temples as well as museums constitute its major historical and cultural tourist attractions. Shopping and dining experiences offer a range of choices and prices.  Bangkok is known over the world for its street food and in 2019, Bangkok has been picked as the world's most popular tourist destination.

As the principal gateway for arriving visitors, Bangkok was named as the most popular city for international tourists for the fourth consecutive year with more than 22 millions international overnight visitors.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

12

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Although Bangkok is highly recognised as the world-class gastronomy destination, there are multiple challenges in Bangkok’s food system. Like many cosmopolitan cities, Bangkok does not produce but process and consume food. With more people’s moving to Bangkok, a rapid expansion of building and road constructions has replaced paddy fields and farms in suburbs and the outskirts of Bangkok.

Living in big city like Bangkok, with highly competitive environment, people tend to be very busy and living convenience oriented; which is impulsive and their priority is to live a carefree, pleasant, convenient and comfortable life. 

Disconnecting from the nature; the new generations don’t know where the food comes from and when asked students at schools, you may get the answer that the food comes from supermarket and/or refrigerator. 

Unfair trade: such ignorance of consumers in the food system has led to the classic problem of unfair middlemen/business who take advantage of farmers, over 20 million farmers or about one third of Thai population, who mainly remain in poverty. This is one of the major causes of inequality, the problem that revolves around and seeming to not be resolved. 

Health & Environmental issues: Majority of farmers in Thailand rely on chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers making Thailand one of the world’s heaviest users and importers. As a consequence, specifically with weak regulations and enforcements.  Chemical residues and microbiological contamination continue to pose public health risks and as well substantial economic and social costs. Unsafe food takes a huge toll on human health and the economy. Cancer has been the number one cause of death in the Thai population since 1998 and there is still a tendency to find more patients. Moreover, the malpractice of chemical farming has intoxicated the environment while there remains low attention from general publics and the policy that the government is trying to impose is not truly driven.  

Wearing face mask in Bangkok; the air pollution in Bangkok was there since the past decades. In 2019, it was for the first time in history that people are recommended to stay indoor and wearing masks if they are to stay outdoor for long. The situation became worse in 2020 and Bangkok ranked in the top five globally for pollution in major cities; PM2.5 levels exceeded acceptable levels the metropolis. And we only do have short-term measures like a ban on lorries entering inner-city areas on odd-number dates, promoting carpooling and public transportation.

Waste and Food Waste; While 64% of our total garbage is food waste, only a tiny amount is recycled. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is able to recycle only 2% of the food waste collected. The rest goes to landfills, where hygiene is not a priority.

In 2050, these challenges could be worsened as BMR has become more urbanized and probably expanded wider resulting in larger effects of the problems. Moreover, accumulated toxics in the environment will result in lower productivity of food and higher needs to increase doses of chemical uses leading to the vicious cycle and downward spiral catastrophe. 

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Realizing the pressing challenges, we want to transform Bangkok and Metropolitan Region (BMR) to be Sustainable Gastronomy Destination. Beginning with consumers who are well informed, inspired, and ready to support safe and sustainable food, in particular, organic food, and connect with producers of their foods i.e. local organic farmers. The active consumers may include both domestic people and tourists. This organic social movement can create a more sustainable Food System where everyone in the value chain will benefit including the environment. 

As Peter M. Senge once shared; we, human beings, believe that we are so complex and advanced but really we just burn nature to make things work. The conventional approach to environmental and social challenges is not working, and we need a more systemic understanding of the root cause of the problems and thinking about it in a more holistic way. It is not only about good and safety food that we eat, the quality of environment; soil and water but it is a holistic way about how everything that is affected by agriculture, including the workers/farmers and the animals, all fits together to create a system that’s viable. Creating deep awareness about the food system and the fact that we are parts of the systems, we are parts of the problems and so our own actions matter.  Once we become aware of how our own actions can make a difference and with the collective effort of all stakeholders in the Food Systems transforming the way we produce, market, consume and think about food.

People living in Bangkok Metropolitan Region (BMR) become aware of the interconnectedness of the food system; the importance to their daily lives, the quality of the environment, their children and future generations. At the same time, there are the opportunity to co-create the changes they wish to see. This vision will help creating collective leaders to create systemic change. Collective Leadership for Collective Impact...

To create a more sustainable Food System where everyone in the value chain will benefit including the environment. People in society become aware of the interconnectedness of the food system; to their daily lives, the quality of the environment, their children and future generations. At the same time, sees the opportunity to co-create the change they wish to see. This vision will help creating collective leaders to create systemic change. Collective Leadership for Collective Impact...

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Bangkok and Metropolitan Region (BMR) becomes the actual living example that demonstrates how big city can transform itself to become sustainable city with the collaboration from various stakeholders using tourism, foods as a tool to connect everyone in the food/tourism value chain including farmers/food producers to the consumers and tourists.  Moreover, Gastronomy destination promotes local economic development, involving different professional sectors food producers, chefs, food markets, restaurants, hotel, etc.; creates healthier & better quality of life for All, including the environment our mother earth.   

BMR Sustainable Gastronomy adds economic values for culture and tradition, a healthy lifestyle, authenticity, sustainability and experience through food.  People can access the cultural and historical heritage of destinations through tasting, experiencing. Bangkok and Metropolitan Region becomes the destination for travellers who love to seek the authenticity of the places through food.  BMR Gastronomy, the Thai story in a plate, using food as a regenerative systems and not only for the environment but as well the cultural heritage, the local food culture, the local way of life.  

BMR Sustainable Gastronomy promotes regenerative food through circular sustainable agriculture which is a collective efforts of farmers, consumers, businesses, technologists, scientists and researchers for the optimum combination of ecological principles with modern technology, with new way of working together as partnerships, new economic models, and credible social services. Everyone in the value chains has important roles to play and it not only focuses on good yields but as well the best use of natural resources and energy, taking good care of the environment.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Bangkok Metropolitan Region (BMR) as a Sustainable Gastronomy Destination: Collective Leadership for Collective Impact towards a Sustainable Food System.

Bangkok as a living example that demonstrates how collaboration and food system can transform big city to be a sustainable harmony city.

BMR Sustainable Gastronomy Destination is based on regenerative economics; inclusive business model and It is the collective efforts of all key players in Food System especially in tourism related industries including Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Thai Hotel Association (THA), Thai Health Promotion Foundation, Thai Chambers fo Commerce, Thai Organic PGS Federation, Thai Organic Consumer Federation, Sustainable Food Lab (Thailand), WWF Thailand, Suan Sampran, Social Lab (Thailand), hotels, restaurants, chefs, super markets, research and educational institutes, local communities, farmers, consumers and tourists. 

In 2050 Bangkok Metropolitan Region (BMR) is a role model for creating sustainable food system.  Other provinces in Thailand and as well other big cities in the world will be able to learn and get inspired by the development path of Bangkok Metropolitan Region. This is an ongoing collective effort that support local systems and people by building networks and educating citizens. Bangkok hold on the top position as international tourist destination that serve food that is nourishing and prepared with care. Most of the ingredients come from local farms and producers and offer local seasonal produce that support our commitment to sustainability. The Food System in Thailand overall is more sustainable, people are aware of the important of nature and living fully connect to it.  Looking to the desired future and it’s quite amazing that its looks is so familiar. This is how is was when we were young living in the community in Bangkok where you can fully trust others, everyone in the local community knows each other well. People replace old habitual patterns of automatic contraction to life with new helpful habits of meeting life with kindness. You step out of the house and everywhere you look there were edibles, veggies, herbs, fruit and berries that grown naturally, that are safe to eat and never hungry.  We share our food with our neighbours. Bringing back the way of life our culture our heritage; Back to nature way of living where we are more human-being of which we do care for others and environment.

Environmental Wellbeing & Wellbeing for Thai farmers; both physically and mentally. People are aware of the importance of sustainable consumption. Bangkok and its surrounding areas have become known as great place for food safety centers; creating both economic and psychological value. Benefiting for everyone in the food value chain from farmers to consumers. Through sustainable farming and consumption, everyone in the food system help making the food system more sustainable. The Food System Vision from Bangkok becomes the model and will be extended to other cities in Thailand and other cities around the world.

Sustainability becomes parts of the daily life and is in the language that use.  And there are a lot of initiatives spreading around Bangkok and Metropolitan Region for example Urban farming, Community garden, growing your own foods project; safety, healthy and sustainable consumption becomes the new normal.  BMR Sustainable Gastronomy Destination create social wellbeing through positive relationships among people in the food system. With the Sustainable food system, people are living in harmony, 

Linking businesses; hotels, restaurants, chefs, supermarkets, local markets to farmers/food producers with support from local communities, research and educational institutes. All key stakeholders work closely together to create the sustainable food system that benefits everyone in the food chain and as well the environment.  Collaboration is the way to build trust, build community and relationship: through transparency & traceability, new kind of relationship has been built up based on trust among farmers, businesses and consumers. The trust system has been built up and they are able to get access to each other, know each other well through technology and as well face to face.  

Systems approach: the idea that the big-picture context of landscapes, markets and the diverse perspectives of all the players in a food system are essential for catalyzing change–combined with System Leaders, individuals that can understand the system view and help push it towards meaningful change.  People do have deep awareness about the impact on their actions.  

BMR Sustainable Gastronomy Destination based on inclusive economy and with creativity adding economic value on food and as well cultural heritage. With collective efforts from different stakeholders, the impactful and innovative change is possible when it cuts cross boundaries and embraces broad perspectives, there is always a set of actors who care deeply about their communities and their land.

Economic Wellbeing: Accessible to healthy local food; Food becomes more than just a food.  It incorporates social values linking consumers to farmers; the food producers and as well to the root of Thai heritage culture.  

BMR Sustainable Gastronomy destination benefits everyone the food systems including farmers, food producers, business like hotels, restaurants, catering companies, chefs, supermarkets and other food outlets and as well consumers and tourists.  This helps to wean farmers away from unhealthy and environmentally destructive pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.  BMR Sustainable Gastronomy is far more than just tourists eating tasty food or visiting organic farms. It involves hotels, restaurants, and supermarkets, working closely & buying organic/safe produce directly from local farmers and communicating to their customers its importance and benefits. Farm visits can be considered as additional activities to help tourists and consumers better understand the farming experience. BMR Sustainable Gastronomy empowers everyone in the food system value chain, including farmers, hotels, restaurants, chefs, supermarkets and consumers to become collective leaders for change, addressing economic, environmental and social problems.  

BMR Sustainable Gastronomy Destination aims to build a more sustainable food system using Tourism & sustainable farming as a tool. 

The Food System is the interdependent and interconnected system of everything and we are all part of the Food System because at least everyone needs to eat food, as a consumer. And the fact that consumers can shape the food production patterns, everything that we do is about shifting the capability for collective action and so TOGETHER we will be able to make the Food System Sustainable.  WE all here are to be in the service of all life, wherever possible, bring loving, compassionate service to help all living beings.

Collective Leadership for Collective Impact… WE TOGETHER will change the World...

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Friend from WWF Thailand

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Spam
Photo of Arnold Sitompul
Team

Hi Dr. Udom, we love this vision, you have outlined some very interesting points and goals, lets collaborate.

Spam
Photo of Udom Hongchatikul
Team

Many thanks Khun Arnold and let us do it to collaborate to make our food systems more sustainable.

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