After facing threats due to unprecedented flooding in recent years, Thailand contended with a raging wave of insights from Asian liberals on climate change.
In the recently concluded Climate Change Workshop: Setting CALD's Climate Change Agenda in Bangkok, twenty international participants and a number of delegates from the Democratic Party of Thailand (DP) tackled various aspects of the phenomenon last 28 November – 1 December 2011.
The event was graced by the presence of Thailand's Leader of Opposition and Former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjaviva. In his keynote speech, Khun Abhisit shared Thailand's recent experience with climate change and stressed the global nature of the phenomenon. He said, "rather than creating restrictions, governments have to create the right incentives in the communities to let them live with their natural resources. The work ahead is hard, but for us liberals and democrats, we have to set an example," he added.
Dr. Neric Acosta, Secretary General of CALD, facilitated the Workshop. In his presentation, he highlighted the present effects of climate change in the Philippines and in the rest of the region. He also emphasized the relationship of climate change with other issues such as hunger, poverty and disease transmission. "Every individual has the right to be free from vulnerabilities at this age of climate change," he remarked. "It is not an option; action must be taken now," he said, challenging the participants. He likewise established a liberal framework for addressing climate change which includes transparency, rule of law, free market and promotion of human rights.
Among the resource persons of the Workshop was Mr. Barun Mitra of Liberty Institute India. In his presentation, he discussed the decarbonisation of the economy, among others. He also shared the devastating effects of climate change on India's agricultural industry and cited the energy efficiency of Japan compared to other states. "Policy-intervention is a means to promote energy efficiency," he said in closing.
Another resource person is Mr. Hongpeng Liu of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP). He gave a report on climate change impacts on water. "Most often you will see different kinds of disasters which linked them to water and climate change," said Mr. Liu. "People have to find a way to prevent these in the future," he added.
The Workshop also consisted of a session where participants reported their respective political party's climate change initiatives. Moreover, they deliberated the areas of climate change which they want CALD to concentrate on.
More importantly, the event also led to the creation of CALD Climate Change Committee composed of CALD Secretary General Neric Acosta, CALD Chair Rajiva Wijesinha, Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia's (PGRM) Ng Lip Yong, and DP's Monthip Sriratana.
Aside from the inputs and discussions in the Workshop, the participants had a festive Thai dinner with the members or the Democratic Party of Thailand and Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF), Thailand. This Workshop marks the first of CALD's series of climate change activities.