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‘Are we ready for the age of disruption?’

“The Twenty-First Century is often described as the age of disruption. The question is, are we ready for it?”, asked Thailand’s Foreign Minister, Don Pramudwinai, as he addressed the UN General Assembly on Monday.

that it is the duty of those representing their countries to preserve and protect the livelihood of the “generation of the future”, Mr. Pramudwinai said that the world is witnessing “a sea change”, with many challenges and opportunities.

The irony, continued the Foreign Minister, is that in a world where connectivity and interconnection are the norm, reaching out is considered a weakness, rather than strength.

Nevertheless, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has arrived, he said, “irrespective of our preparedness, bringing with it an avalanche of technological advancements that will have far reaching and weighty ramifications on all matters affecting our lives.”

This is the reason that Thailand, which is chairing the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), has adopted the theme of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability”, explained the Foreign Minister, embodying the notion of long-term and sustainable advancements for mutual benefit, rather than short-term gain.

Reflecting on the key summits held during the high-Level week of the General Debate – in particular those on Universal Health Coverage, Climate Action, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – Mr. Pramudwinai noted that Thailand now ranks sixth globally in terms of universal health coverage,

The country has also pressed successfully for the ASEAN region to take a collective stand on marine debris, and ratified the 2015 Paris climate agreement; and adopted a Sufficiency Economy Philosophy as its approach to implementing the SDGs, which strives for balance between development and progress, and social factors and coherence: “Without balance the road out of economically deprived existence for millions will lead nowhere”.

Because peace and stability are necessary prerequisites for these issues, Thailand, the Foreign Minister said, along with the other members of ASEAN, is pushing for partnerships, and turning conflicts into cooperation, to enable development and progress to be sustainable: “Essentially, it is our duty to give partnership and cooperation a chance, to prove that, with a different mindset, peace and common benefits can be achieved”.

The counter-globalism movement was described by Mr. Pramudwinai as “the elephant in the room” that the world can no longer ignore, which includes “ethnophobic populism”, which stems mainly from people’s disenfranchisement from economic globalization.

For this reason, Thailand is promoting “people-centric” policies as an essential part of its economic and social policies, he continued, and fostering a development model that “leaves no-one behind”, because to do otherwise would lead to “the implosion of the economic order and widespread calamity”.

Mr. Pramudwinai concluded by warning that history has shown that great powers must know their limits and accompany their strength with a sense of responsibility and accountability.

Without due regard to this lesson, he said, the world will “remain trapped in the vicious circle that has brought this esteemed body into existence in the first place”.


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