Unprecedented changes over the last decade have rendered Bangkok, at first glance, almost unrecognizable.
Rapid growth and industrial success has made the city a magnet for migration from across the country and beyond. Millions of people flock to ‘the city of angels’ in search of opportunity amidst the concentration of economic growth and prosperity; Bangkok’s population has increased more in the last decade than the preceding three decades combined. Alongside newfound opportunity, this growth has brought myriad social, economic and environmental challenges.
With more people than ever before living in and engaging with the city, it is a critical time to look ahead and make a plan for a better, more resilient Bangkok. One that is safe, liveable and sustainable for all. How can we make Bangkok a vibrant city of opportunity for everyone, rather than a select few? How can we create space for collaboration and communities, rather than of division and exclusion? How can we work together to embrace water and its opportunities and values, rather than battle to keep it out? These and many more questions were asked in the development of this Resilient Bangkok Strategy. While the pages that follow do not provide a single and absolute solution, they do outline a series of steps that will bring us closer to our goal.
Bangkok supports over 8 million people in the city, and over 14 million in its metropolitan area, who travel to and from work, access healthcare, and partake in entertainment and recreation. To ensure that our residents can experience an increased quality of life, we will work to improve social services and mobility for all residents.
This Strategic Action Area has three goals:
- Health and wellbeing for all city residents, now and into the future
- Safe, accessible and convenient transportation network; and
- Environmentally friendly urbanization.
Ensuring our healthcare and facilities meet the evolving needs of an ageing population will be central to achieving our goals. We will work to promote and facilitate the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, through infrastructure change and engagement with the community. We will improve mobility and connectivity through actions that will
contribute to a safe, accessible and convenient transportation network and promote green space in urban areas to make the city a more pleasant and accessible place to live and work.
Climate change, urbanization and globalization will bring increasing uncertainty and unplanned interruption to Bangkok. By supporting and strengthening community-led disaster risk reduction actions and increasing institutional adaptive capacity, we will support all of Bangkok’s residents to better adapt to natural and human hazards and the increasing risks posed by climate change.
This Strategic Action Area has three goals:
- Improving resilience to floods
- Increasing public and community-driven action on awareness, preparedness and adaptation; and
- Stronger institutional capacity and regulation.
While identifying and planning for foreseeable risks is an important part of disaster risk reduction, we will also build resilience in our communities so that they can withstand a range of shocks and stresses, even those that are unforeseen.
Bangkok’s economy is inextricably connected to the global economy, bringing opportunities for economic diversity and growth through trade, tourism, and investment. Increasing interconnections and interdependencies also introduce significant volatility and vulnerability into our economy. While the city cannot shield itself entirely from this volatility, there is much that can be done to ensure our economy is strong, efficient, accessible, and competitive. We will drive a strong and competitive economy through economic diversification, both in terms of industries and in employment opportunities for our residents.
This Strategic Action Area has two goals:
- Facilitating city and community-based economy; and
- Expanding tourism, service industry and hospitality.
To achieve these goals we will work to cultivate our worldrenowned tourism and service industries by developing a roadmap for our tourism sector and by supporting tourism providers with business development training. We will explore opportunities for technological advancement, which can facilitate higher skilled and higher paying jobs and support a diverse range of community-based livelihoods.
Bangkok has come a long way since it became the capital of Thailand in 1782. The past 250 years has seen the city change from a small fortress town on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River into one of South East Asia’s most prosperous and modern cities. But while history has been
kind to the city, it has also been cruel. Bangkok has faced, and will continue to struggle with severe financial crises, floods, political unrest and other significant disruptions amidst the slow burning stress caused by increasing inequality and rampant urbanization. Such challenges have often left the city struggling to catch up. This strategy marks an important step forward for Bangkok. We are well and truly into the 21st century now. Perhaps lessons from the 21st century tell us that change and growth will be unparalleled, but we will not be scrambling to catch up, instead we will be well ahead.
Our Resilience Team
Dr. Supachai Tantikom
Chief Resilience Officer and Senior Advisor on Environment to Bangkok Governor