Environmental Governance:

The Role of NGOs in Thailand

Paper presented at “The Fourth Asia-Pacific Environmental NGOs Conference”
November 26-27, 1998, National University of Singapore, Singapore.


After the enactment of the Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality on June 5, 1992, the crucial role played by environmental NGOs regarding the protection of the country’s natural resources and the environment became widely recognized. The Act also provided policy guidelines to enhance collaboration between government agencies and environmental NGOs, and recognized that public participation is the key to achieving environmentally sustainable development. Environmental NGOs are entitled to government assistance including financial support from the Environmental Fund (established under this law). The present Constitution (1997) also recognizes the role of NGOs which have been actively participating, both directly and indirectly, in the policy making process since 1992. Over the past 20 years, environmental NGOs have been engaged in many natural resource protection and conservation activities at the national, provincial and local levels. Their contribution to environmental governance has increased significantly, however, they continue to face constraints that could undermine future effectiveness. Due to the current economic crisis, their financial problems have intensified. In addition, the lack of experienced personnel continues to present ongoing human resource challenges. On a positive note, with increased government and public support, the role and scope of NGO networks have been strengthened considerably. Their potential contribution to more efficient management of the country’s natural resources and the environment appears promising provided that organizational and coordinating problems can be resolved.