The Thailand case is a unique one, one so unique that the United Nations thought to not only award its economic philosophy but also award the King in an all new award, never given to any person on the planet before. In May of 2006, the United Nation’s Secretary General then, Kofi Annan, presented King Bhumibol Adulyadej with the first ever United Nations Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award. It was a great honour but because we are all human and think differently, the philosophy in all its glory has had its critics too. At the end of the day, I think it is a superb philosophy that ought to see the light of day in other countries outside Thailand as well as it is human centred. It is an economy of the people, rich or poor and one that may be the solution to the current world problems of economic crisis. The world has too many failing economies and may be its time to think differently, think Thailand.

The Thailand philosophy is famous for two genius strategies, the blend of economic and social philosophies to create the ‘Sufficiency Economy.’ The economic design is two decades old having been formalised in 1990 and its greatest achievement yet is that the United Nations believe it is good enough to draw inspiration from. Some of their own development goals are drawn from this philosophy. Even better is that it is sustainable, something that the corporate worlds as well as the governments in the world having aiming for since the beginning of time. Its main strengths are sustainability, long term over short term goals and the inclusivity of shareholders.


What makes it sustainable?

First and foremost is that it in synch with the most widely used definition of Sustainable development. ‘The ability for the current generation to meet its own needs while ensuring that future generations are able to meet theirs as well.’ Thailand seems to have taken that to heart and its current economic strategy will ensure that in not being extravagant, their future generations will be able to benefit from the environment which provides most of the resources for an economy to run sufficiently.

It is a fact that it emphasizes on producing enough to meet the people’s need and not for extravagance. The King was not for the notion of the then popular ‘Asian tigers’ that competed to produce extravagantly on goods that were not really needed. (OBG, O. (2018)

The idea emphasizes the importance of the ‘middle way’. It aims at finding a balance in the economy and not being extreme to either side. It neither deprives people of pleasure, nor result in their being too needy.

It encourages reasonableness. The king made it clear that the country was not aiming towards being self-sufficient from the rest of the world but instead is a part of the larger global economy. His main idea was self-sufficiency at individual level, then at community level and finally the country before they can participate in a healthy environment with the rest of the world. It is reasonable when a country aims at eliminating poverty in the rural areas first to match up to the urban areas so that no one is left behind.

It encourages moderation. It focuses more on long-term achievements of having and producing not too much or too little rather than the short term that focuses on steep profits but only for a short while. It requires individuals and the government to be responsible for their actions.

It encourages prudence. Prudence calls for the country to be alert about its economy. Protect it from the inside out. From internal pressure that requires the economy to fail and from external pressure that may lead to negativity.

Share-holder centred ideas. This economy unlike the Western one, makes everyone a shareholder and not only the bosses but the employees, customers, communities and the government as well. In the process everyone is responsible for the economy thus better ideas for sustainability are born.

Resource protection is a result of sustainability. Thailand does not promote excesses in matters economy. This means that producing just enough, the resources especially the natural ones are preserved and given time to regenerate and nourish their reserves. The ones that do not regenerate are also preserved from over exploitation for meaningless use.


When the King was first enthroned, Thailand was mainly an agricultural land but with a poor economy. The king toured his lands and went on to improve the economy through new development projects such as introduction of the Tilapia fish in the fisheries,  cloud seeding to improve water sources and building of rural roads to ensure that farmers got their produce to the local and international markets on time. (OBG, O. (2018)

The king’s meditation not only helped the poor rural community improve their lives but also created a series of lectures throughout his country to educate people on better economic practices.

Between the years 1997-1998, Thailand became hard hit by the Asian economic crisis. The king’s ideas had to be put in work at this time if the crisis was to be resolved. He emphasized on the need for Thailand to produce enough for its need, without being extravagant.

It fought for equality between the poor and the rich. The poor did not have too little as to be needy or the rich too much to be extravagant. The idea is also rich because it brings people together in their Buddhist religion because it draws from its fundamental principles such as the ‘middle way’.

This philosophy also enables people to gather information on how to improve themselves and their economic practices becoming not only knowledgeable but also find ways to plan for their future and attain their long-term goals.

The people of Thailand have also been taught the importance of ethics in their interaction by the Sufficiency Economy. They have learnt to withstand pressure from external forces and not give in to bad practices and they have learned to work as a greater team because a team player will not want to exploit another but instead push each other forward for the greater good.

The Sufficiency Economy aims at protecting the rural poor who had been left behind for a while by their urban counterparts. The two areas were so unlike that one could easily spot the affluence of the urban rich and the poverty levels down at the poor who depended on poor agricultural means. All that is changing however as more incentives are being invested to improve by the poor.

The people benefit from food security, water preservation, biodiversity, a healthy environment and famers are made less vulnerable in society.


The Sufficiency Economy might be a better solution for mankind to pursue and improve upon. (Economics, P. (2018) The Sufficiency Economy has seen its fair share of criticism especially from capitalists that do not agree with its principles. The world has already seen the effects of capitalism and the boundaries it creates, the rich become even rich and the poor languish in their poverty. We are already witnesses to failing economies; environmental degradation and suffering why not try what we have not tried before. Thailand may be on to a huge secret and instead of sitting still and criticizing what we have not failed at yet; we may as well be the solution to its weak points and further improve it.THE CASE OF THAILAND’S SUFFICIENCY ECONOMY PHILOSOPHY

It is already roving itself to be of service to society, by bridging lifelong gaps between the poor and the rich. It is enabling people to look out for each other and doing away with harmful philosophies like ‘every man for himself’. It is protecting the environment from pollution and overexploitation and dumping because in its sustainability effort it is looking out for the welfare of the people and the environment that supports them. It is also fighting for future generations to have a comfortable chance at survival too.

Society will no longer be afraid of hunger or food insecurity or even health problems such as diabetes and obesity which may be lifestyle choices but may not exist if people concentrated on producing enough for their needs. Enough production in the food industry would mean more of healthy and less of junk mass production. The middle way would ensure that because individuals are supporting each other’s interests, no one will be selfish and look for personal gain that ends up hurting the next person. The Sufficient Economy of Thailand if embraced by the world, will not only be a solution to poorly based economies but it will also improve the world in virtue such as perseverance and honesty and the world will be better placed.


  1. References

    OBG, O. (2018). Thailand applies sufficiency economy philosophy to promote sustainable development. [online] Oxford Business Group. Available at: [Accessed 4 Apr. 2018].

  2. Economics, P. (2018). The Sufficiency Economy: a Thai Solution to Economic Sustainability. Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit. Retrieved 4 April 2018, from