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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Thailand

Thailand’s constitution contains provisions for the protection of the environment. Section 57 reads:

The State shall:
conserve, revive and promote local wisdom, arts, culture, traditions and good customs at both local and national levels, and provide a public area for the relevant activities including promoting and supporting the people, community and a local administrative organization to exercise the rights and to participate in the undertaking;
conserve, protect, maintain, restore, manage and use or arrange for utilization of natural resources, environment and biodiversity in a balanced and sustainable manner, provided that the relevant local people and local community shall be allowed to participate in and obtain the benefit from such undertaking as provided by law.

Section 58, on the other hand, states: “In regard to any undertaking by the State or that the State will permit any person to carry out, if such undertaking may severely affect the natural resources, environmental quality, health, sanitation, quality of life or any other essential interests of the people or community or environment, the State shall undertake to study and assess the impact on environmental quality and health of the people or community and shall arrange a public hearing of relevant stakeholders, people and communities in advance in order to take them into consideration for the implementation or granting of permission as provided by the law. A person and community shall have the rights to receive information, explanation and reasons from a State agency prior to the implementation or granting of permission under paragraph one. In the implementation or granting of permission under paragraph one, the State shall take precautions to minimize the impact on people, community, environment, and biodiversity and shall undertake to remedy the grievance or damage for the affected people or community in a fair manner without delay”.

Featured Legislation

1992: The Factory Act was enacted to replace a previous Factory Act of 1969. One of the main purposes of the act is to regulate environmental and safety concerns associated with factory establishment and operation. Subsidiary regulations and notifications published by Ministry of Industry prescribes various requirements for EHS management such as

Appointment of environmental personnel

Report of pollutants release

Wastewater discharge and air emission standard

Industrial waste management standard

Soil and groundwater monitoring and countermeasures

Noise standard

Fire prevention and management

Appointment of pressure gas controlle

1992: The Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality Act, B.E. 2535 was approved. 2535 is a fundamental environmental law in Thailand. The act was enacted in 1992 to replace the previous Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality Act of 1975. It covers a wide range of pollution issues such as water pollution, air pollution, waste management, noise and vibration. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) scheme, which is an obligation for specific types of industrial projects, infrastructure projects , condominiums, etc. is implemented under this Act.

1992:  The Hazardous Substance Act, B.E. was promulgated. The legislation replaced the previous Poisons Act of 1967. The act established a legal base of chemical management in Thailand. Industries which manufacture, import, export or possess hazardous chemicals shall conduct chemical business in accordance with this act and its subsidiary regulations and notifications. The act regulates chemicals for agriculture, fisheries, livestock, food and medical purposes, industry and energy business.

1992: The Energy Conservation Promotion Act was ratified. The Act is divided in the following Sections: Energy conservation in factories; Energy conservation in buildings; Energy conservation in machinery, equipment and promotion of energy-efficient materials; Fund for promotion energy conservation; Measures for promotion and assistance Surcharges; Competent officers; Appeals; Punishment. It aims to the production of energy (by hydropower generation, petroleum oil, gas, fire, wood combustion, electricity), and to the reduction of any losses due to misuse or mishandling.

1992: The Public Health Act, B.E. 2535 was instituted,  replacing the previous Public Health Act of 1941. The purpose of the act is to assure the health, hygiene and living environment of citizens. The act prescribes duties of the local municipalities as well as the private entities. Municipal wastes are managed by local municipalities under this act. Business detrimental to health, 13 business categories defined by the subsidiary notification, shall be carried out in accordance with the requirement of the act.

2010: The Thailand Tiger Action Plan 2010-2022 was established. This Thailand Tiger Action Plan 2010-2022 is a sectoral policy document at the national level. Tigers face a very real threat of extinction as a result of a variety of factors ranging from habitat loss and prey depletion to poaching. The vision of the plan is: By 2022 tigers have recovered and thrive in the priority landscapes managed under high standard interventions and monitoring systems, and Thailand has become a strong support for international collaborations on tiger and wildlife conservation and protected area management in Southeast Asia. The goal is to increase the tiger population by 50 percent in priority landscapes together with other landscapes in Thailand by 2022.

2015: The Climate Change Master Plan, 2015-2020, was finalized. The Plan acknowledges that Thailand is facing the challenge of climate change which is a major obstacle to sustainable development. It further notes that the changing weather patterns have a profound effect on the country’s economy; and the variations and unpredictability in weather conditions are more felt in the agricultural sector and the changing patterns have also impacted on how diseases spread. The main purposes of the Plan include; (1) To provide a long-term national framework for climate change adaptation and low carbon growth promotion according to sustainability development principle; (2) To provide a policy framework for the development of mechanisms and tools, at sectoral and national level, to achieve effective resolutions for climate change. (3) To provide government agencies and relevant organizations with a framework for detailed action plans; facilitating awareness and mutual understanding by means of a common framework of reference points, thereby increasing integration and reducing redundant processes. (4) To provide budgeting agencies with a clear framework for budget allocation, thus enabling the mobilization of concrete climate change resolutions. The Master Plan utilizes the Driving ForcesPressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) framework, which is an evolution of the PressureState-Response framework. The DPSIR framework works by focusing first on the current environmental problems (e.g. climate change) and then by analyzing the surrounding factors comprehensively in order to identify the causes and reach effective solutions. The Thailand Climate Change Master Plan (2015-2050) consists of three key strategies: 1) Climate change adaptation 2) Mitigation and low carbon development and 3) Enabling environment on climate change management. The Plan also acknowledges that climate change is a trans-boundary issue, as such, domestic operations shall be in alignment with international frameworks. 1) Develop the knowledge base and technology required to support low carbon development and sustainable adaptation to climate change. 2) Increase the resilience to climate change of national development by calling for an integrated approach to climate change adaptation measures between stakeholders at all levels. 3) Reduce national GHG emissions and develop sustainable low carbon growth modalities. 4) Raise awareness and capacity to implement climate change related policies and plans in developmental partners at all levels. The goals of the Plan are divided into 3 phases; 1) Short-term: Goals related to mechanisms and capacity building measures for issues which require immediate implementation (Target year 2016). 2) Medium-term: Goals related to mechanisms and capacity building measures which require time to implement, and goals reflecting the outcome of medium-term actions (Target year 2020). 3) Long-term: Goals reflecting long-term actions, including variable goals which require continuous monitoring of indicators (Target year 2050). The Plan calls for a full involvement of all national stakeholders and sectors; energy, transport, industry, agriculture, public health, government, private sector and civil society across the central, regional and local levels of administration and organization within the nation. Further to its implementation, monitoring and evaluation, the 35 year span of the climate change master plan also necessitates periodic evaluations in order to identify the course correction and revisions that will allow the plan to meet any unforeseen challenges whilst remaining true to the original objectives.

2021:  The National Energy Policy Council approved the new National Energy Plan to demonstrate Thailand’s commitment to the Conference of the Parties to the 26th UN Climate Change Convention (COP-26). The approved plan aims to reach the target of carbon neutrality in the energy and transport sector by 2070, whereby the country will commit to reducing annual greenhouse gases emission by 20–25 per cent by 2030. Measures under the plan include:

  • increasing ratios of renewable and clean energies of new electricity plants
  • promoting electric vehicles
  • being a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) hub
  •  promoting production and use of renewable energy

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • In 2021, a command center was opened  in the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division (NED) of the Royal Thai Police with the support of UNODC and the European Union Delegation to Thailand. The ‘Iyara Circle’, also known as the Center for the Investigation of Transnational Environmental Crimes or CITEC, will build capacity, leading specialized operations and criminal investigations related to wildlife and timber trafficking and other environmental crimes in Thailand, and assist with cross-border and regional cooperation. CITEC is one of the first facilities to bring dedicated wildlife crime analysts and investigators together in an effort to coordinate operations to address transnational crime networks. This new initiative will support operations and help Thailand cooperate with neighboring countries as well as ASEAN and international partners. One of the weapons in the fight against environmental crimes is the use of digital technology for advanced analysis and surveillance during wildlife crime investigations, according to Pol. Lt. Gen. Surapon Yoonuch, Assistant Commissioner General of the Royal Thai Police. CITEC was proposed and established by global partners and financed by the European Union, spearheading a range of activities that support the preservation of the country’s unique natural biodiversity while preventing criminal activities affecting the environment. Thailand witnessed a reduction in large seizures of illegal wildlife products in Southeast Asia in 2020, but the illegal trade has not stopped, and it is expected that trafficking will resume to pre-COVID levels once border and related travel restrictions are relaxed.

References and Further Reading


Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment: E-mail: