Respect 'laws of nature'
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Respect 'laws of nature'

Today marks World Environment Day, initiated in 1973 by the United Nations Environment Programme to create a global platform aimed at inspiring positive change.

This year's theme spotlights land restoration, desertification and drought resilience. These themes remind governments around the world to meet the targets of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

The goal of this project, launched in 2021, calls for governments to prevent, halt and reserve the degradation of their respective ecosystems.

According to UNDP figures, around a third of the world's farmland is degraded, about 87% of inland wetlands worldwide have disappeared since 1700, and one-third of commercial fish species are overexploited.

Land degradation is already affecting the well-being of an estimated 3.2 billion people, or 40% of the world's population. This hurts not only nature but humanity as well. Every year, we lose ecosystem services worth more than 10% of our global economic output.

Indeed, the situation in Thailand is disturbing. Respected local conservation group Seub Nakhasathien Foundation warns that the rate of deforestation is the highest in a decade, with the country's forest areas already having been reduced to 30%.

Prof Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine environment academic and lecturer at Kasetsart University, warns that the scale of the damage in terms of coral bleaching is unprecedented. Coral reefs in Thai waters -- breeding grounds for sea animals and a magnet for Thai tourism -- now face an existential threat.

The problem is that elected politicians do not prioritise the country's environmental policy. Their focus lies elsewhere: drafting an amnesty law for political prisoners, drafting a new charter, holding a new Senate election, and dealing with the political games of the day.

Therefore, most environmental policies have focused on carbon credits, sustainable development, and recycling, but there has been a lack of action to translate these goals into meaningful results.

What has been missing from public policy is the sincerity and earnest determination to change the law and policy.

One glaring example is a policy by Agriculture Minister Capt Thamanat Prompow to permit people to convert Sor-Por-Kor 4-01 land into title deeds and then use that land for small-scale commercial purposes instead of reserving it for farming, as was the case in the past.

While the country -- and indeed the world -- needs more forest and farmland to protect food security and sufficiency, this policy will do the opposite.

On marine policy and the latest draft of the amended fishery law, lawmakers from the ruling Pheu Thai Party and opposition Move Forward Party (MFP) support a policy that promotes large and commercial fishing while repealing tough environmental laws.

This amended draft would undo the much-needed fishery quota, monitoring of sustainable catches and respect for the human rights of industry workers.

As our marine resources dwindle, the last thing we need is a profit-driven fishery policy like the one encapsulated by this bill.

Meanwhile, ecological zones such as wetlands and forests have been cleared in preparation for more infrastructure and development.

The government and lawmakers need to reevaluate their priorities, roll up their sleeves and deal with this existential crisis.

Unlike political shifts and changing laws, the impending natural catastrophe cannot be undone.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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