Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thailand Environment Institute

Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Year: 1993-Present

Founder:Bangkok Metropolitan Administration

TEI was founded in 1993 as an NGO to "green" Thailand, focusing on sustainable development in Bangkok. Because of the rapid growth of the city in the prior two decades over 35% of the land in the city was vacant and thus identified for urban agriculture, green space, and forestry. The projects undertaken by TEI are highlighted chronologically here. This is a completely different urban setting for large scale urban agriculture projects in comparison to developed cities because one-third of the city does not have access to water or sewage treatment. The three phases of the project were to map the potential green space in the city, involve the local community through participatory planning, and implementation through local governments. The program also used indicator metrics of 1. Establishing an Urban Green Plan, 2. Community Capacity Building, 3. Poverty Reduction, 4. Links with Government, and 5. Status of Women, 6. Developing a Model for Other Communities. Though most of these are not activities of resistance, the focus on Poverty Reduction and the Status of Women are significant gestures in the developing world, especially in a city and culture known for its exploitation. This is additionally important with as much as 60% of income in the developing city going towards food expenses.

Projects include using an abandoned soccer field for ten families to grow food for themselves and sell the excess at a street market. Others included planting along a canal and clearing overgrown spaces. The sites proved sustainable and received additional investment from the local community in terms of diversifying crops and maximizing use of the available space. These were featured in Entrepreneur Magazine.

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