City exodus could benefit community living, forum told

city exodus could benefit community living, forum told

The Sustainability Expo 2022 takes place at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center (QSNCC) in Bangkok from Sept 26 to Oct 2. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Forest conservation needs cooperation from all members of society, especially the young, according to experts at a forum organised on Tuesday as part of the Sustainability Expo 2022 at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center.

The event is the largest expo of its kind in Asean, and featured multimedia exhibits by leading global sustainability organisations promoting this year’s theme of “Good Balance, Better World”.

On Tuesday, the forum on the communities of the future was attended by Suwaree Wongkongkaew, director of Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Centre, Ayu Chuepa, founder of coffee brand Akha Ama and Pharadon Phonamnuai, a musician and co-founder of North Gate Jazz Co-Op.

Ms Suwaree told attendees that connectivity between the people and their environment must remain intact and cited the mutually beneficial relationship of those who live in and care for the forest.

She said in the past people lived in greater harmony with nature but as the population has grown, so too has the desire by authorities to develop the land and this has led to conflict. A greater amount of cooperation from all sectors including local communities, ministries and related agencies is required, she added.

Ms Suwaree also welcomed the increasing number of young adults who want to return home after graduation to further develop their communities.

city exodus could benefit community living, forum told

Participants attend the opening ceremony of the Sustainability Expo 2022 on Monday. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Coffee magnate Ayu was one such returnee and explained how more than a decade ago he had set about helping his home community in the northern province of Chiang Rai to grow coffee in the forest without the use of harmful chemicals while generating more profit.

Mr Ayu is a member of the Akha tribe, and that had been the inspiration behind the name and branding of his products. Since those early days, he said his community had also become a tourist attraction where visitors could learn about making coffee from start to finish.

He also emphasised how his generation is concerned by the threat of waste, particularly discarded plastic, posing to the delicate ecology of the forest. He urged people to be more careful when they throw things away.

Mr Pharadon said the Covid-19 pandemic has seen many young people leave cities and return home by choice or because of the poor economic situation.

He said this could be a blessing in disguise if they bring their education and training back to their roots and improve the economies of the country’s smaller communities.