Thailand and the European Union foster cooperation in Circular Economy

Thailand and the European Union foster cooperation in Circular Economy

16 Apr 2021

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Thailand and the European Union foster cooperation in Circular Economy

On March 25th 2021, the Royal Thai Embassy in Brussels, in collaboration with the European Commission, organized an online discussion between Thai and European Union officials on “Circular Economy”.  The aim is to encourage exchange of information about each side’s policies, regulations and actions towards a circular economy, paving the way for further cooperation, in terms of sharing know-how and best practices as well as capacity building.

The event brought together over 130 participants including Thai government officials, representatives of the Thai private sector, officials of the European Commission and the European Parliament.

The discussion comprised three sessions on “circular economy”, “plastic waste management” and “international bioeconomy cooperation”.

Chargé d’affaires Sirilak Niyom, Royal Thai Embassy Brussels, kicked off the discussion by highlighting the common goal shared by Thailand and the EU in shifting from a linear economy to a circular economy. Thailand’s Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economic model and the European Green Deal are aligned with each other and present a great opportunity for closer partnership between the two sides.

Thinking in Loops

Dr. Kanchana Wanichkorn, Vice President, Office of National Higher Education, Science Research and Innovation Policy Council, presented Thailand’s BCG economic model, and suggested four possible areas of cooperation with the European Union – evaluation and monitoring, standards, R&D program and business matching. Dr. Wijarn Simachayam, president of the Thailand Environment Institute (TEI), added that the three priority areas of circular economy for Thailand are plastics, food waste and construction materials.

Mr. Kittiphan Taparugssanagorn, Director of Clean Technology Unit, Ministry of Industry, explained how Thailand’s industrial development is gearing towards a circular economy. One focus area is biotechnology, based on Thailand’s agricultural strength and rich biodiversity.

Mr. Federico Porra, Policy Officer, DG Environment (ENV), European Commission, explained about EU Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP), emphasizing the need to align green and growth policy. He highlighted some of the EU’s current and future actions in this area such as a new regulatory framework on batteries, the Sustainable Products Initiative (including digital product passport), and the revision of the rules on waste shipment.

Exiting the plastic world

Ms. Wassana Jangprajak, Environmental Officer, Waste Minimization Division, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, presented Thailand’s roadmap on plastic waste management for 2018-2030 with an aim to recycle 100% of targeted plastic wastes by 2027. To realise this objective, Action Plan on Plastic Waste Management Phase I has been developed. The measures include reduction of plastic waste at sources, reduction of single-use plastic at consumption process and Post-consumption plastic waste management.

Mr. Christoffer Vestli, International Relations Officer, Directorate-General for Environment (ENV), European Commission, stressed that plastic problem is transboundary and requires a global action. The EU therefore works towards the establishment of an intergovernmental committee to negotiate a global agreement on plastics at the UN Environment Assembly UNEA5/2 in early 2022.

More is more – more cooperation, more solutions

Mr. Roman Brenne, Policy Officer, DG Research and Innovation (RTD), European Commission, presented the EU’s Bioeconomy Strategy and talked about forms of international cooperation such as the International Bioeconomy Forum, which Thailand is invited to join. He outlined how the bioeconomy will be funded through Horizon Europe to promote the triple helix model of innovation (academia, industry and government) and to equip the workforce with skills that will make them fit for the green future. Ms. Katarina Grgas Brus, International Relations Officer, DG Environment (ENV), European Commission, added that the EU seeks to cooperate both at the bilateral and ASEAN levels, and already has activities and platforms of cooperation relating to circular economy with several ASEAN countries.

In concluding the discussion, Chargé d’affaires Sirilak informed the participants that Thailand and the EU are in the process of negotiating a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement or PCA and aim to sign the Agreement by this year, which will be an important milestone in Thailand – EU relations and provides a framework for enhanced cooperation between the two sides, including in the area of circular economy.

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