'Sustainable development' : law, the environment and water resources in modern Thailand
The overall purpose of this thesis is to examine problems concerning implementation of the concept of sustainable development in the area of water resources using Thailand as a case study of a developing country. The aims and objectives of the thesis are to provide an analysis of water case studies focusing on fieldwork undertaken in different regions in Thailand, an analysis of the legal system; and strategies for environmental protection; considered in the context of rapid economic expansion. The thesis begins with an examination of the foundation and background of Thailand's legal system, its economic development and its environment. Particular emphasis is given in the thesis to water resources. Water is a specific medium to judge pollution standards as a whole. Pollution for land and air often eventually makes it way into water system. Water regulation and pollution control is an example of environmental regulation as a whole. This is followed by an analysis and evaluation of the legal framework of environmental law. The aim is to examine the evolution of the legal protection of the environment in Thailand as well as to analyse the existing contradictions between the country's legal order and its actual environmental problems. The dynamics of the country's political process are then considered. Finally, the question of how the concept of sustainable development might assist in the application of environmental protection to water resources in Thailand is examined, using disputes over water allocation and water pollution. The case studies are drawn from different regions in Thailand. In Thailand there has certainly been more environmental awareness in recent years, but the implementation of sustainable development strategies remains at an early stage, despite, the Rio conference in 1992 and Rio II in 1997 emphasising the conservation of natural resources. The concept of sustainable development is also incorporated in the new Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality Act 1992 (the 1992 Act), despite to a limited extent, some principles for sustainable development such as the precautionary principle, the PPP, EIA, right of access to environmental information and public participation. In Thailand primary legislation is in place but water resources regulations are required. Thailand is on a slow learning curve in its strategies for protecting the environment. In the thesis, case studies at a local level have been undertaken and through these case studies, it is clear that sustainable development concept is not fully integrated and accepted as a way to solve water problems at a local level. This indicates a failure of western concepts and their adaptation in developing countries such as Thailand. However, traditional approaches may be used to improve and promote sustainable development concepts together with Agenda 21, western approaches and experiences, which is called "The Mixed Approach". Thailand is in the advantageous position of being able to learn from the mistakes and environmental failures of the developed countries with respect to water resources policy. At the very least, it must acknowledge that environmental problems cannot be fundamentally solved without addressing them at the time of economic development. Still further, Thailand must not adopt the model of western environmental protection laws without first ensuring that the new reforms are suitable for the needs of the Thai economy and people.