SUSTAINABILITY
DASHBOARD

Measuring Chiang Mai’s progress towards Sustainability

INFORM

CONNECT

INSPIRE

SUSTAINABILITY DASHBOARD

Measuring Chiang Mai’s progress towards Sustainability

INFORM

CONNECT

EMPOWER

Dashboard Introduction
Chiang Mai “Nayu” Sustainability

The Sustainability Dashboard provides a simple publicly-accessible progress report on our City’s sustainability journey. It does this by providing a visual display of information and metrics on a select set of sustainability aspects identified through public consultation. The dashboard is designed for the user to access and explore the different aspects of Chiang Mai City’s sustainability progress as framed by the Compass – Nature, Economy, Society and Wellbeing.

The dashboard also links to the different individuals and groups that are actively working to transform our city through various projects, initiatives and actions.

Linking with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs), the sustainability indicators that make up the Chiang Mai Nayu dashboard also link to and show our city’s contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Note: All information and data provided, will be linked to the original data sources (government, institution, academic peer-reviewed research papers).

 

NATURE
ECONOMY
SOCIETY
WELL BEING
NATURE

 

NaTure Sustainability Aspects

Forest Fires

Why is clean air important for Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

Forest fires produce some of the smoke haze pollution which affects the residents of Chiang Mai Municipality and they occur within the National Parks and Forest Conservation Areas that surround the city. These fires have increased over time due to the effects of climate change and increased human pressures for economic returns. Smoke haze pollution is also derived from burning agricultural biomass such as corn, used to feed animals [pigs, chickens] and creating corn syrup for the industrial snack food and drink industry also contribute greatly to the terrible air pollution in Chiang Mai.

Air pollution and a drastic reduction in overall air quality is one of the most important global sustainability and health challenges that the world now faces, especially in cities throughout Asia. Hence, it is a major aspect of transformative urban change. Unsurprisingly, many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN Agenda 2030, which is the global roadmap for sustainable development until 2030, relate directly or indirectly to air pollution.

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

Chiang Mai has been facing the problem of forest fires and extremely unhealthy air quality for over a decade, particularly during the dry season, November to April. The cause or causes of these widespread forest fires is not unanimously agreed among the community. What is clear is these fires have resulted in worsening air quality to the point that Chiang Mai has the distinction of being the City with the World’s Worst Air Quality several years running during the dry season. Unfortunately, this is the same 6 month period as the tourism high season in Chiang Mai and so the smoke haze most likely negatively impacts the numbers of tourists coming to Chiang Mai and the amount of possible income earned by local residents, not to mention those more affluent foreigners that choose to retire hear.

In 2020, a local environmental expert stated that the forest fires of 2020 were the worst that Chiang Mai has experienced in 30 years and the situation seems to be getting worse by the year. In recent years, some areas of Chiang Mai have hit levels of PM2.5, of up to 592 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) of air, almost 12 times above levels considered safe to breathe by the World Health Organization (WHO). We have not yet researched the link between the extremely bad air quality in Chiang Mai and premature death.

Sustainability Dashboard

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • Forest Fire Hotspots w/in Chiang Mai Province by year / months per year
  • Air Quality Index [AQI] measured between Oct to May

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

Air Quality

Why is air quality important to both the health of the residents and Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

Air pollution is the presence of substances in the atmosphere that are harmful to the health of humans and other living beings, or cause damage to the climate or to materials. The measure of air pollution level is called an Air quality index (AQI), which is used by government agencies and others to communicate to the public how polluted the air currently is or how polluted it is forecast to become.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2018) in 2016 91% of the world population lived in areas where the WHO Air Quality Guidelines were exceeded. Polluted and unhealthy air is attributed with approximately 4.2 million premature deaths annually. Evidently, air pollutants such as Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) as well as ground-level Ozone (O3) do serious harm to human health and cause, for example, lung cancer, respiratory or cardiovascular diseases. By 2050, air pollution is projected to become the leading global cause of mortality.

 

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

Chiang Mai has been facing the problem of smoke haze pollution and extremely unhealthy air quality for over a decade, particularly during the dry season between November and April. The air pollution has become more severe and increasing every year during the last decade. Even under the Thailand Standard, where Particulate Matter 10 (PM10) 24 hours average level should not exceed 120 μg/m3, there are many days each year that Chiang Mai during this period that PM10 had reached 200 or over. It should be noted that the PM10 level by international standard is much lower. For instance, the 24 hours average level of the European Commission is 50 μg/m3. In recent years, some areas of Chiang Mai have hit levels of PM2.5, of up to 592 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) of air, almost 12 times above levels considered safe to breathe by the World Health Organization (WHO).

There are several factors that caused haze pollution in Chiang Mai, from increased urbanization and vehicles to the burning of dry leaves and household waste by residents, but the most  important factors are the burning of national forests and the burning of agricultural corn waste. The burning of agricultural corn waste by farmers has has expanded rapidly during the last ten years due to the demand of corn by the industrial animal feed industry. This problem has affected Chiang Mai tremendously, not only economic and tourism sectors, but the physical health of its population, both in both the short and long-term, including premature death. 

Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • Air Quality Index (AQI) - The AQI tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. AQI runs from 0 to 500. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern.
  • Particulate Matter *PM 2.5 is a mixture of fine solid particles fine inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 2.5 micrometers and smaller, and pose the greatest risk to human health.
  • The number of [trend data] premature deaths annually in Chiang Mai.
  • The number of farmers and farming villages that apply natural farming principles such as creating biochar to compost their agricultural biomass instead of burning it.

 

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

Urban Tree Cover / Canopy Cover

Urban Tree Cover or Canopy Cover is the layer of leaves, branches, and stems of trees that cover the ground when viewed from above.

Why is Tree Cover / Canopy Cover important for city sustainability?

Forest and canopy cover in a city is an important aspect of urban sustainability because of the multiple benefits that trees provide in relation to the livability within urban spaces, improving the health and wellbeing of people and the community, and also for supporting wildlife and biodiversity. In terms of improving the urban space, the leaf canopy of trees helps to reduce the 'heat island' effect of concrete surfaces that make cities hotter than other environments. Trees lower local air temperature through a process called evapo-transpiration, which occurs when the sun's rays hit the trees' canopy, causing water to evaporate from the leaves. This cools the trees down as well as the air around them. Additionally, tree canopy and root systems help reduce storm runoff from hard rains as well as reducing noise. Tree cover also improves the scenic quality of the city and trees help decrease our stress and anxiety. In one recent study in Japan, participants reported on their moods after walking for 15 minutes in an urban forest area as opposed to a normal urban setting. In all cases, the participants walking in a forest experienced less anxiety, hostility, fatigue, confusion, and depressive symptoms, and more vigor, compared to walking in a purely urban concrete setting. Moreover, trees and tree canopies provide habitat, food, and shelters for urban wildlife, sequestering carbon and releasing oxygen into the city.

What is the situation for Chiang Mai?

According to research conducted in 2007 derived from aerial photograph interpretation, approximately 33% of Chiang Mai city had tree canopy cover. A decline in tree cover occurred when moving inward towards the city center. This research also indicates that the city's canopy cover has created significant diversity in the urban environment. However, with urban development expanding there is an urgent need to re-examine the existing urban forest resource in Chiang Mai and devise appropriate patterns to guide the urban development and maintain or grow urban tree canopy for the city.

Sustainability Dashboard

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • Percentage of Tree Cover w/in CM Municipality. The initial focus is upon the four sub-districts of Chiang Mai city (Nakornping, Kawila, Meangrai, Seewichai)
  • Number of Big trees
  • Number of Natural Corridors (where clumps of canopy connect over a larger area to create a natural corridor for animal life to travel)

 

Who is working on this aspect?

  • Information coming soon
Urban Green Space

Why are Urban Green Spaces important for Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

Urban green spaces, which can include public parks, natural forest areas, community gardens or allotments, are extremely beneficial to urban residents and visitors alike. Green spaces can reduce ambient temperatures caused by the urban heat island (UHI) effect, increase air quality, which in Chiang Mai is very important due to the annual burning and smoke haze, help conserve and increase biodiversity, and also provide numerous wellbeing and economic benefits to people and businesses.

Much research has also proved the very positive impact increased urban green spaces has upon the mental wellbeing of residents living in cities. One major study in the US showed that, across the world, living in cities is associated with higher levels of depression and other mental health problems; a rash of studies since have shown that people feel like green spaces — parks and community gardens, usually — help them deal with the stresses of urban life. Over half the world’s population live in cities today and the UN predicts that almost 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. Acknowledging the fact that living in cities is associated with higher levels of mental illness and depression, and that having access to urban green spaces with biodiversity such as birds and flowers which in turn is linked with increased well-being, it is clear that developing urban biodiversity is a very important and often neglected element of every urban city design.

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

The World Health Organization (WHO) standards and guidelines recommend that cities should provide a minimum area of nine square meters of green space per person. The Thai government’s policy is clear in its support for the creation and protection of green spaces within local communities. However, Chiang Mai Municipality is seeing a continued diminishing of public green space due to increased and often unregulated urban development, such as large condominium buildings being built throughout the city with little thought for human wellbeing and the development of urban green spaces in neighborhoods.

Sustainability Dashboard

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • # of public parks within CM Municipality area m2
  • Percentage of Green Space within CM Municipality area
  • % or amount in km. of undeveloped Riverbank within Chiang Mai Valley

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

Water Quality of Iconic Surface Water Body

Why is Water Quality important for Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

Three of the most important water bodies for Chiang Mai City are the Ping River,  Mae Kha Canal and Ang Kaew Reservoir in the CMU campus. The Ping River is part of the cultural iconography and spirituality of Chiang Mai dating back to the founding of the Lanna Kingdom in 1236 by King Mengrai. However, today it is under pressure from agriculture and urban pollution, and climate change effects on precipitation and water volume. Mae Kha Canal is the other important piece of Chiang Mai’s water system.

 

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

Unfortunately, unregulated urban growth has caused both the Ping river and canal to suffer with massive amounts of domestic pollution. Plastic pollution that enters the Ping river through littering or storms, ultimately ends up in the Andaman sea unless someone removes it. This plastic pollution contributes to Thailand being the sixth worst ocean polluter in the world according to the World Bank.

Ang Kaew reservoir is a beautiful natural scenic body of water located within the green grounds of the CMU campus. However, sadly, like the river and canal, it is facing pollution from different sources, with fish continuing to die, the water continuing to smell and a layer of green gunk forming on the surface of the reservoir water. The polluted waters of our city now elicit nostalgic memories of past recreational and cultural activities in and along these waters. Unfortunately, the reality of a polluted Ping River, Mae Kha canal and Ang Kaew reservoir is that they both present human and environmental health risks and threaten the image of Chiang Mai as the “Northern Rose” of Thailand.

Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • Water Quality of Mae Ping (w/in Chiang Mai municipality) by month (avg) and annually at a particular station / location
  • City of Mae Kae Canal by month (avg) and annually at a particular station and annually at a particular station / location / location
  • Water quality of City Moat by month (avg) and annually at a particular station / location / location
  • Water quality of the Ang Kaew Reservoir in the CMU campus

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

ECONOMY

 

Economy Sustainability Aspects

Credit: Citylife Magazine Chaing Mai

Organic Food Values

Why is Organic Food important for Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

Since millennia, humans have survived and thrived from eating natural organic nutrient dense food. However since more recent times (1960’s onwards) industrial agriculture has played a more dominant role in shaping food supplies. That includes widespread use of chemicals (fertilizer, pesticide, herbicide), some of which are carcinogenic, to grow large amounts of mono-culture crops to be supplied the industrial food sector to create ‘food, drink and snack products’ and to supermarkets globally. These chemicals are harmful towards biodiversity (fauna and flora), contaminating top soils, rivers and water bodies and toxic (carcinogenic) towards human health.

The UN states that it is actually small farmers that feed the world, while large industrial mono-culture farms that rely heavily upon expensive petrochemical inputs to produce cash crops (corn, sugar, palm oil, etc) for the industrial food industry. The UN further states that we need a paradigm shift away from industrial chemical farming and move back towards more holistic regenerative ecological farming, working with, not against nature.

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

Chiang Mai is blessed to be located in a particularly fertile location and climate in the world. This is one of Chiang Mai’s strengths. In recent years Chiang Mai has witnessed a steady increase in both organic farms and educational Permaculture sites all practicing natural farming principles, encouraged by the late King's sufficiency economy model. Furthermore Chiang Mai has been developing its organic food supply for both local residents and organic farmers markets in Chiang Mai and Thailand/Bangkok while simultaneously positioning itself as a healthy wellness city/region of Thailand and SE Asia. This strategic focus of playing to its strengths and working with nature to produce high margin, valuable nutritious organic produce is helping to strengthen the local economy, enabling it to become more resilient in the face of a weakening tourism sector. However, there is still widespread use of valuable land by farmers to grow monoculture industrial cash crops such as corn, that require expensive toxic agricultural chemicals to remove all other life from the land so as to grown corn. These chemicals (pesticide, herbicide, fertilizer) are both expensive and very harmful to both human and plant life.

Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • Annual production in kilos and baht of organic produce.
  • Number of establishments selling organic foods/products.
  • Number of “Farm to Table” collaborations.
  • Number of Organic Markets in Chiang Mai
  • Number of organic farms vs chemical farms and tons of produce produced.
  • Number of urban organic farms
  • Amount of Rai/land used to grow industrial corn vs organic produce

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

Waste Management Recycling Solutions

Why is a sustainable Waste Management Recycling Solution important for Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

With an ever dwindling finite amount of non-renewable resources and ever growing populations with increasing needs of consumption, managing a city's waste correctly is key to any city becoming truly sustainable. Thailand's Pollution Control Department (PCD) has stated that Thailand has very serious waste management issues. Asia is the source of 80% of the world's marine plastic pollution and Thailand is the 6th worst marine plastic polluter in the world according to the World Bank. To date Chiang Mai does not have a waste management recycling scheme in place that has been effectively scaled city-wide. Most if not all the waste is taken to a landfill and either dumped into the ground or burnt, further polluting, the already toxic air. 

With the levels of consumption and plastic pollution taking place in Chiang Mai as a modern developing city, it must consider developing a fully functioning waste management and recycling solution which includes the separation of waste at source, at the household and retail level. The investment in such a recycling solution would create both jobs and knew industries (compost materials) and innovative new products and markets. This is a win-win for the city, the economy and the environment but requires ethical and visionary leadership.

 

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

There is no formal waste separation and recycling service in place today from the local municipality. The municipality spends over 200,000THB annually or 12% of its annual budget on waste collection. Much of the waste is sent to a landfill 100km outside of town. The majority of waste sent to landfill is organic and so compostable (food waste 62%, paper 7%), with 22% being plastic. Some local people collect plastic bottles, but this is only a partial solution. After several years of collection, the landfill is sealed with a cement cover and the gases emitted are collected and used to provide cooking gas for the local village. Fruit and vegetable scraps, garden cuttings, paper, tin, glass and plastic could all be separated, sorted and recycled, creating jobs as is done in other countries and cities across the world. To learn more, read "Wasting Away" by City Life Magazine.

Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • The amount of Government budget assigned to sustainable waste management recycling technology and public education.
  • The % households and businesses sorting their waste correctly.
  • The amount of tons of unsorted solid waste going to landfill.
  • The amount of CO2 and other toxic gases emitted from the landfill annually.
  • The amount diverted for recycling and composting.
  • Diversion of hazardous waste, batteries etc to proper municipality dept. Increase the implementation of ‘on the spot’ fines for burning waste.

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

Renewable Energy Provision

Why is clean Renewable Energy important for Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

Within the Thailand Integrated Energy Blueprint (TIEB), Thailand has explicitly set energy security as the top policy objective, followed by economic affordability and environmental sustainability. Such prioritization was in response to the continuous growth in energy demand, the continuous depletion of domestic reserves of energy resources in Thailand (mainly natural gas) and the over-reliance on other countries for energy.

Thailand’s own natural gas, crude oil and coal does not meet the nation’s needs. Over the past four decades, Thailand has been relying on imported fuels to meet more than half of its energy demand, which from both a sustainability perspective and a national security perspective can be a great risk. The industrial and transport sectors consumed largely three-quarters of the total.

Natural gas, crude oil and coal equated to 90% of Thailand’s energy production, with renewable energy (mainly biomass) being only 10%. In 2016 Thailand signed an agreement to purchase electricity from Laos but that requires damming up the Mekong river for which we are now uncovering the environmental and social destruction this is causing.

The Department of Alternative Energy (DEDE) and The Energy Regulatory Commission (REC) established the Energy Industry Act of 2007. Within this lies the Alternative Energy Development Plan (AEDP) (2015-2036), that calls for the business and residential sector to promote the use of renewable energies. A call for the scaling up of green alternatives among communities as a way to promote increased security of energy supply and reduce the country’s dependence on imported fuels, such as from Laos.

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

Thailand has plentiful sun all year round that could provide some of the energy requirements of infrastructure (buildings, hotels, condos etc) during the day time peak usage through the installation of solar panels. Biomass from agriculture could also become another source of renewable energy and domestic fuel for rural residents instead of harvesting wood from forests. The Chiang Mai University biogas solution could be scaled up to take in the food waste from the cities residents and transformed into biogas for local residents as is done in other cities. However today there are very few solar panels to be seen in Chiang Mai and even fewer residents, condos and businesses receiving income from the local PEA [provincial electrical authority] for electricity supplied to the grid via these solar panels. There is no citywide food waste to biogas system and the forests continue to be exploited for all manner of reasons including fire wood. This could all change. The local PEA could provide incentives to local residents to install solar PV so they may earn money on all the electricity that is not used, thereby creating a passive source of income. Local gas could be provided from a food to waste biogas solution and farmers could create biochar from their agricultural waste and sell it to villagers to avoid further deforestation. All reducing the need to import fuel from abroad and strengthen Chiang Mai’s and Thailand’s energy resilience and security. All aligned to Thailand's Bio-Circular-Economic model.

Sustainability Dashboard Energy
Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • The amount of Government budget assigned to supporting renewable solar energy initiatives in hotels, condo’s, schools, homes etc.
  • The amount of electricity produced from renewable sources of energy such as solar.
  • The amount of income earnt by local residents and businesses from passive solar income.
  • Number of roofs with solar panels.
  • The amount of gas purchased from non-renewable energy such as natural gas.
  • The numbers of farmers producing and selling biochar briquettes to replace charcoal from non-renewable sources of forest timber.
  • The amount of food waste going to landfill being reduced and turned into biogas.

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

Sustainable Affordable Public Transportation

Why is Sustainable Affordable Public Transportation important for Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

Like many modern cities today, Chiang Mai is exposed to a lot of urban traffic pollution. There has been a consistent push for more and bigger roads, and ring roads, at the expense of the tax payer, developing Chiang Mai into having many ugly mini  ‘urban sprawls’ at the cost of building local communities connected by a Light Rail or public buses. The detrimental impact on human health and lungs is considerable, and even more so when combined with the annual burning of the forests and fields. Furthermore, Thailand has a very high amount of road accidents and fatalities, this could be greatly reduced with a decent public transport service in place.

 

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

There have been studies on this issue of public transportation in Chiang Mai, but as yet no tangible action to take recommendations forward in a systematic way. Within the four municipalities of Chiang Mai the private sector has attempted to meet these needs with Tuk-Tuks, Songteaws and taxis, which pollute the air further. According to the Department of Energy the transport sector is the biggest user of electricity together with the manufacturing sector, consuming 75% of the electricity in Thailand, and so this is an area for great improvement. As the population density grows, the need for an affordable, sustainable, public transportation grows. Increasing consumer debt, stagnant wages and reduced income from tourism makes matters worse as car owners struggle to pay off their car loans. A combination of ‘Light Rail”, public buses and cycle lanes could be the answer such as in Hong Kong. There is a need but a lack of leadership and initiative is stalling the development of such affordable, sustainable public transportation in the city.

Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • Number of KM’s of public transport routes in place
  • Number of people using these transport routes
  • Percentage of public green renewable energy transport vehicles
  • Traffic congestion and the reduction in vehicle usage.
  • Number of bicycle share schemes
  • Number of electric charging stations and vehicles

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

Sustainable Business Practice

Why is Sustainable Business Practice important for Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

During the last two decades a necessary emerging trend has evolved in big and small businesses throughout the world. That trend or evolution is toward becoming more sustainable in their business operations. From sourcing of (renewable) raw materials, to processing and packaging, from in life product usage and end of life recycling. Businesses realize they can save costs and make more money by becoming more sustainable in all aspects of their business. Business, government and societal leaders across the globe acknowledge that our old polluting industrial ways are not sustainable due to inefficient and wasteful, polluting practices and the devastation done to both the environment and other species. For businesses to become long lasting and profitable, they will ultimately have to adapt and become sustainable or risk becoming illegal and or risk going out of business.

 

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

In line with Thailand’s vision of building a Bio-Circular-Green sustainable economic model, and technological driven future the local economy of Chiang Mai has an opportunity to develop according to this strategic vision which is aligned to the sustainable development goals of the United Nations. Chiang Mai has many strengths and skills such as its strategic climatic location and the ability to grow diverse produce among others. Existing initiatives such as the Green Leaf Certificate the Organic Thailand Certificate and the focus upon developing the Wellness sector can pragmatically help Chiang Mai to become a healthy sustainable city. Building upon the guiding principles of the late king’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) combined with the vision and focus of Thailand's Bio-Circular-Green economy, Chiang Mai can work towards becoming a sustainable city in all that it does. For this dream to be realized, it will be essential that we make strong progress in each of the 20 aspects of the sustainability dashboard towards developing more sustainable businesses. Ultimately becoming an example of a healthy and sustainable city in South East Asia.

Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • Number of Green Leaf Certified Hotels, Cafes, Restaurants and businesses.
  • Implementation of a Sustainability Certification/ Index for CM Green Businesses - Link with Green Leaf certification.
  • Implement water and energy efficient standards and practices
  • Implement waste sorting/recycling systems.
  • Number of styrofoam or plastic food packaging for take away and supermarkets vs plant based.
  • Phase out sales of styrofoam and plastic non-biodegradable containers from retailers such as Yok, Macro etc.

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

SOCIETY

 

Society Sustainability Aspects

Cultural Heritage Preservation

Why is Cultural Heritage Preservation important for Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

Chiang Mai is a city steeped in history and a rich and living cultural heritage. We say “living”, because cultural heritage is not something that is static and cemented in the past only, but is something that is in constant flux, linking the past, the present and the future together. It encompasses things inherited from the past that are considered to be of such value or significance today that individuals and communities want to transmit to future generations. Chiang Mai’s northern Thai – Lanna and Indigenous cultural roots, history, Lanna architecture, textiles, arts, and beliefs are something that makes our city unique and ‘nayu’.

 

UNESCO’s guidelines for cultural World Heritage status state that a city must meet the conditions of “integrity and/or authenticity” and “must have an adequate protection and management system to ensure its safeguarding”. Although not much of the built heritage from before the 1800s is still visible, the original layout of the city has not changed, and there are still many important historical and cultural sites scattered among the modern urban architecture. There is also the living cultural heritage, which still exists as a spirit and feeling from the past that is embedded in everyday life. Admittedly this cultural heritage is increasingly challenged by the current pressures of globalization, economic development and changing social norms. Because of these pressures, it is important that the people of Chiang Mai along with the business community and local government work hand-in-hand to sustain our city’s unique and dynamic tangible and intangible cultural heritage mosaic, linking past to present and present to future. Participatory and integrative urban policies with adequate investments to safeguard and promote cultural infrastructures and sites, museums, indigenous cultures and languages, as well as traditional knowledge and the arts, while highlighting the role that these play in rehabilitating and revitalizing our city and in strengthening social participation and the exercise of citizenship should be highly considered.

 

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

A recognition of its potential contribution to the city’s sustainable economic development, whereby tangible cultural heritage (i.e. sites, buildings, temples, etc.) and cultural expressions related to intangible heritage (crafts, festivals, traditions) is critical to our sustainability. Why? Because preserving Chiang Mai’s cultural heritage can attract tourism and investment, and may provide new sources of income and employment generation not yet realized. Synergies can also be found with other elements of the cultural and creative ecosystems, including the development of new products and services. Furthermore, Chiang Mai's cultural heritage makes Chiang Mai 'Nayu', an enjoyable place to live.

Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • No. of buildings registered as cultural / historical places
  • No. of traditional artisans (individuals / groups) currently active (registered) and dis-aggregated by age / gender
  • No. of traditional / natural medicinal practitioners / organizations in CM
  • Courses / education for traditional artisan skills
  • Traditional and natural medicine courses / schools / retail outlets/ local business

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

Social Capital

Why is Social Capital important for Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

Social capital is a concept linked to sustainable development, especially in the context of cities and communities. Social capital itself integrates a basket of interlinked concepts such as social networks, mutualism, community spirit, public trust and commitment towards a common goal. Social capital is produced when people build mutually beneficial relations within the context of a collective group, such as a family, organization or community. It is a set of norms in social systems that improve the level of cooperation of community members. And it is being recognized now internationally, that sustainable communities depend upon creating a healthy stock of social capital.

The concept of social capital has enormous potential to highlight the importance of social factors and the benefits of cooperation and collective action. It can allow for the re-clarification and reframing of social and environmental problems beyond the profit motive. It can refocus the salience of human rights and wellbeing, and the importance and benefits of an engaged and empowered society. It can help to reverse the problems of rampant individualism and its associated competition, greed and exploitation. And it is essential for achieving sustainable development!

 

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

In the context of Chiang Mai and its aspiration and challenges to achieve sustainable development, social capital is essential. There are so many passionate, dedicated, skilled and talented individuals, groups and organizations working on disparate issues that directly relate to our future sustainability and wellbeing. However, maybe in order to accelerate change and progress we need more focus on increasing our social capital (mutually beneficial relationships) between all of these groups towards the common goal of sustainability and wellbeing, as this requires a collaborative, multi-stakeholder/ multi-perspective interconnected systems approach. Trust, communication, cooperation and networking are the super-charger fuel for this to occur. The example we see recently with the coordinated responses by different groups and individuals to both the smoke haze issue and the COVID-19 challenge, give us a good indicator that Chiang Mai has the potential for high social capital.

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • Community Social Capital Index

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

Sustainability Education

Why is Sustainability Education important for Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

Education is at the heart of sustainable development and the UN's SDGs. For people to live sustainably, they will need to learn and acquire the tools, skills, values, and disposition that are likely required to create and maintain a sustainable society. UNESCO defines sustainability education as ‘Education for Sustainable Development’ (ESD) that integrates key sustainable development issues into teaching and learning, including sustainable lifestyle practices, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development. It requires transformative, participatory teaching and learning methods that motivate and empower learners to change their behaviors and take action for sustainable development. Education for Sustainable Development consequently promotes competencies like critical thinking, emotional intelligence, imagining future scenarios and making decisions in a collaborative way.

 

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

Since cities are often (though not the only) the key centers of thought and action when it comes to education, local governments and elected officials can leverage Education for Sustainable Development as a tool for achieving the 17 SDGs and for making cities and communities more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Education and lifelong learning are essential components of everyday city life, so that the urban community, such as Chiang Mai, can create a sustainable and harmonious society that embodies the principles of social justice, ecological resilience, economic productivity, political participation, and cultural vibrancy.

Learning to live together sustainably in our cities and communities is one of the most important educational challenges of our time. Some cities are setting examples for citizens to follow while others are reaching out through programs that educate or offer opportunities for engagement. Our aim here in Chiang Mai is to create a virtuous cycle, with educated citizens conveying to their friends and families the importance of sustainable development, creating momentum for change and an ever-greater impact on urban life. One area to begin this important transformation is with the education of young people about sustainability and what it means to live healthy and sustainable lifestyle. This education should be part of the curriculum for all schools.

Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • Extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development are mainstreamed at all levels in Chiang Mai Schools’ curriculum
  • # of schools that incorporate sustainability, ecological literacy, sustainable lifestyles and sustainable development into their curriculum
  • # of schools that incorporate social entrepreneurship, ecological design & closed technology and innovation into their curriculum

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

Social and Cultural Diversity

Why is Social and Cultural diversity important for Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

A number of cities in Asia are now witnessing dynamic population shifts and immigration flows, enabled to a large degree by improved human mobility, and influenced by tourism, internationalization of education and the globalization and digitization of business supply chains. Cities such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Phuket, and Chiang Mai to some extent (e.g. digital nomads), have to varying degrees experienced this trend. The opportunities for the internationalization of city populations and cultures to feed back positively into the local community are only just beginning to be appreciated. For some cities, this is being pursued by design (i.e. government policy such as in Singapore), and others more by happenstance (e.g. Chiang Mai). This trend has made some cities measurably more vibrant culturally, while at the same time infusing their economies with new sources of both investment capital and entrepreneurial talent and ideas.

Cities like Chiang Mai would be smart to recognize the role diverse populations have in raising their city profile regionally (i.e. ASEAN or Asia) and internationally, which can help in filling skills deficits, attracting investment, improving relations with new markets, and cultivating an enriched quality of life and creativity for everyone living in the city. Global cities that proactively encourage immigration, integration and co-existence of diverse international residents into economic and public life, are now increasingly referred to as “open cities” (British Council, 2010). In this concept, “openness” is a key asset for a thriving city.

 

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

We believe that by being a socially diverse and open city, Chiang Mai will be more successful in attracting talented and creative people who want to integrate into Thai society and actively participate in improving the city’s in all aspects – economically, creatively, socially and environmentally – so as to enrich the overall quality of life and economic prosperity of Chiang Mai City. To become a more inclusive, balanced and diverse society the city and its civic and political leadership should see the benefit and facilitate the building of the structural elements to nurture a diverse and inclusive multi-cultural social environment.

Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • Number of foreign residents residing in Chiang Mai per year (dis-aggregated by nationality), and as a proportion of total population of Chiang Mai City per year
  • Number of active associations, groups, organizations and/or events that champion integration of Thai and foreign residents to engage together as one community;
  • No. of registered migrant workers (with work permits) who are working in Chiang Mai.

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

Public Safety and Security

Why is Public Safety and Security important for Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

Public safety and personal security are two aspects that are critical for people living in urban environments with large populations. For Chiang Mai Nayu, we define this as safety from crime (feeling safe and secure) and also safety related to Chiang Mai’s roads.

Fear of crime is becoming one of the most serious problems in cities around the world, including Thailand. Luckily, Chiang Mai does not have a high level of violent crime, including rape, though it does occur. Non-violent crime such as fraud, pick-pocketing is more prevalent, but still very low in comparison to Bangkok. However, what the data says and what is public perception, do not always match up. Fear of crime and feelings of insecurity in public areas create a barrier to participation in public life and reduces the livability of the city.

Environmentally sensitive design is essential by providing places and spaces for people that enable a lifestyle that minimizes negative environmental impact and creates safer neighborhoods through well designed and built environments thereby helping to improve quality of life for each member of the society.

 

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

Road safety is the other aspect of sustainability that we concentrate on here in Chiang Mai. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 22,000 or more people die each year in traffic-related incidents in Thailand, making its roads the deadliest in Southeast Asia. Chiang Mai, unfortunately, ranks near the highest each year from both road accidents and road fatalities.

The failure to wear helmets and seat belts, speeding, drunk driving, and a lack of restraints for children are among the biggest risks to road safety. It is accepted that Thailand has adequate laws on the books to deal with driving and road safety violations, but the problem is and has been for the longest time, an issue of “education on law enforcement.”

Education at all ages and all levels is clearly one way to change things. Additionally, real enforcement of the laws is fundamental. Not just helmet and seat-belt checks on certain road checkpoints, but ensuring that the traffic police are enforcing the laws regularly, whether it is running red lights, driving down the wrong side of the road, failure to yield or drunk driving.

Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • Crime rate by type / by year
  • Reported cased of violence against women (rape, assault, murder) per year
  • No of accidents related to public facilities and infrastructure per year
  • Cases of domestic violence
  • No of drunk drivers cases per year reported
  • No of road accidents / fatalities by type (car, motorcycle, bicycle) per year

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

WELL BEING

 

Well Being Sustainability Aspects

Physical Health

Why is Physical Health important for Chiang Mai cities sustainability?

Human physical health is one of the most important aspects in our society if not the most. Physical health is directly impacted not only by the external environment of a region, community and or city but also by the genetic factors related to the individuals health situation.

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

In order to promote good physical health exercise and sports activities are fundamental. Chiang Mai city does provide sport events and outdoor activities inside the schools, Universities, gyms and public spaces. There are three key outdoor sport activities for residents that are currently very popular: Buak Hard Public Park, Ang Kaew reservoir, 700-year Sports Complex.

However, the quality of air, municipal drinking water, combined with healthy nutrition and exercise are four important elements to promote good physical health in adults and children. Poor nutrition specifically leads to increased risk of lifestyle related diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease all of which are preventable. Respiratory illnesses, asthma and other lung conditions are linked to the city's very poor air quality due to the burning of forests in national parks and agricultural biomass in and around the city.

Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • Case of respiratory illness (such as Asthma, bronchitis)
  • Mortality rate attributed to ambient air pollution
  • Number of cases of diabetes, heart attack, colon cancer, obesity
  • Baby Mortality / nutrition stunting
  • Injuries/fatalities from road accidents
  • Level of Physical activity per capita
  • Local participation in sports event=> # of sport events per year
  • Drownings, especially children

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

Mental Health

Why is Mental Health important for Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

Mental health is an important key indicator that states the quality of life through our relationships, family units, social and work environments. In order to achieve a stable happy life it is important to have good mental health, where healthy harmonious relationships can thrive. Good role models in the community are essential to providing the younger generation examples of good ethical and moral behavior. Good role models play a crucial role to assist and guide the young generations to design happy successful lives.

 

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

In Chiang Mai poor mental health is related with poor role models, domestic violence/rape, depression, addictions and suicide. Some of these negative issues such as domestic violence and addictions are a serious problem in the community due to COVID 19. The family unit is impacted by these factors and women and children are not only physically abused but also suffer psychological abuse. In some cases women and children are also victims of rape. The domestic violence in Chiang Mai city is a reality as is also the trafficking of boys and girls into prostitution.

The poor role models of parenthood, the existing networks of human trafficking, the abuse and rape of women and children, the addiction to alcohol and drugs are all evidence of unstable poor mental health. The violence instigated by these abusers promotes trauma, criminality, lack of safety on the streets and poor ethical role models within the community. The abuse leads to psychological trauma and sadly into mental diseases such as addictions, depression and suicidal tendencies within the victims.

Sustainability Dashboard
Sustainability Dashboard

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • Suicides/Depression by age demographic
  • Rates of addiction (CM) Alcohol/Drug
  • Number of domestic violence cases reported
Food safety

Why is Food Safety important for Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

Food Safety is about producing, preparing and storing food with proper health and safety standards in order to minimize the risks of illness to individuals and infants. In Chiang Mai food safety is an important key indicator that is related with the health and wellbeing of the community, from infants to elderly people. Everyone should access clean, nutritious organic food free of pesticides and other carcinogenic chemicals.

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

In order to achieve good standards in health and safety in food, farmers, markets and local supermarkets must provide more organic food and use less to no petrochemicals to grow the food. The amount of industrial food that is cheap and very common contains many chemicals and heavy metals that are harmful to human health, leading the population to an increase of preventable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. This can be prevented by developing healthy and safer levels of food standards within the city.

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • Cases of food-borne / related illness
  • Number of organic markets and organic restaurants
  • Drinking water quality related illness cases
  • Food safety, industrial non-organic vs organic

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

Poverty and Spatial Inequality

Why is Poverty and Spatial Inequality important for Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

In Asian cities it is common that the poorest of the urban population live in informal settlements (i.e. slums or shanties) without land title and without access to the most basic of essential services and infrastructure while the rest of the city’s population expect to have easy access to. The nexus of poverty and spatial inequality is a key aspect of urban sustainability and is a result of imbalanced development. Urban spatial inequality is linked with the uneven distribution of resources or wealth in a certain spatial area of a city. It is essentially a disparity in wellbeing due to discrepancies in social and economic factors and outcomes that are primarily associated with poverty, rights and a lack of political voice. Being one of the important parameters for sustainable development, poverty and spatial equality should be defined as both a process and an outcome, and therefore both inequality of opportunity and inequality of outcomes are considered.

 

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

Chiang Mai’s urbanization so far represents an unequal development pattern and haphazard growth, especially in terms of the nexus of poverty and spatial inequality. Chiang Mai is considered to have a high level of spatial inequality in terms of access to basic services and infrastructure for its poorest communities, including safe housing and house registration, health services, electricity and clean drinking water, sanitation, waste collection, education, green spaces and recreation areas, etc. There are an estimated 62 informal slum communities within the boundaries of the Chiang Mai Municipality, which present significant socio-economic and political challenges to the Chiang Mai city government and society as a whole in the context of sustainable development. In recent years the city's poor communities, with the help of local NGOs, have managed to link with the municipal government to form a community development committee and to begin building a platform for addressing the issues of the urban poor in the city - issues like environment, housing and land tenure (i.e. spatial equality).

The enduring neighborhood inequality and poverty that characterizes contemporary cities like Chiang Mai is linked to the governance processes that drive policy responses to the city’s sustainability challenges. Thus, in order to understand and effectively tackle endemic community poverty and spatial inequality, a new perspective and thinking that produce new and different interventions and solutions that go beyond standard practice must begin to evolve.

Candidate Indicators:

  • Poverty level in Chiang Mai city
  • # of people below poverty line
  • Level of funding / # of initiatives aimed at poverty reduction
  • Access to education (%CM children not in school)
  • Access to hygienic toilet, clean drinking water and other types of basic sanitation programs/facilities/services
  • % of Households in the City with/without access to basic services (i.e. clean piped water, sanitary toilet, electricity)

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

Quality of Life

Why is Quality of Life important for Chiang Mai city's sustainability?

Arguably a city’s most important role is to supply as good a ‘quality of life’ as possible for its current and future residents. Cities do this with varying degrees of success and this success is not always predicated on a city’s affluence. Quality of Life is meant to represent either how well human needs and aspirations are met and/or the extent to which individuals or groups perceive satisfaction or dissatisfaction in various life domains. Quality of life is defined as the overall wellbeing of individuals in a broad and a multidimensional sense and is a key indicator of urban community sustainability. Quality of life is synonymous with the level determined by the quality of life standards and that the quality of life generally refers to psychological life, social life, professional life and physical life, but also the quality of environment and space. Issues relating to quality of life are now high on the political agenda due to an acknowledgement that levels of life quality affects both economic and social wellbeing.

Sustainability is connected with the improvement of quality of life through education, justice, transparency, community participation and recreation. It is about whether the economic, social and environmental systems that build the community are providing a healthy, productive, meaningful life for all the community residents, present and future. Social sustainability is a life-enhancing condition within communities, and a process within communities that can achieve this system condition. It incorporates equity of access to key services (including health, education, transport housing, recreation, etc.), as well as equity between generations, meaning that future generations will not be disadvantaged by the activities of the current generation.

 

What is the situation in Chiang Mai?

In 2019 Monocle magazine created the Small Cities Index and ranked Chiang Mai as number 15 in the world for the quality of life for global small cities. Important criteria in this survey included safety/crime, international connectivity, climate/sunshine, quality of architecture, public transport, tolerance, environmental issues and access to nature, urban design, business conditions, pro-active policy developments and medical care. Chiang Mai is now facing many pressures, including the increasing problem of air quality from open biomass burning, and a loss of overall GDP from the fallout of the tourism sector from COVID-19. Whether Chiang Mai is resilient in this area and can rebound to continue to offer its citizens, residents and guests a high quality of life will be up to both government, business sector and civil society.

Candidate Indicators: (What do we measure?)

  • Education opportunities
  • Personal development
  • Digital landscape
  • Cost of living
  • Personal safety
  • Transportation options
  • Infrastructure
  • Ease of doing business
  • Access to nature
  • Environmental quality
  • Social engagement / networks
  • Recreation
  • Entertainment
  • Etc.

Who is working on this aspect?

Information coming soon

About the Sustainable Development Goals

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all – meaning no one left behind. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. The 17 Goals are all interconnected and indivisible and apply to all countries, both developed and less-developed. It is imperative that we achieve them all by 2030.

Sustainability Dashboard
Learn more about the SDGs