‘Finland’s expertise in circular economy can help Thailand’ – Finnish Minister

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development of Finland, Mr. Ville Tavio

As Thailand desperately seeks solutions for PM 2.5 pollution and the rising amount of garbage, Finland has offered its expertise in the circular economy to support Thailand with its know-how in utilising agricultural waste and waste-to-energy innovations.

In an exclusive interview with Thai PBS World, Finland’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Ville Tavio, said that Finnish companies are ready to cooperate with Thailand’s government and conglomerates to establish a sustainable economy, leveraging Finland’s innovations in the circular economy.

As only 1% of the waste in Finland ends up in landfills, Minister Tavio is confident that Finnish companies can provide waste-to-energy solutions to the overwhelming amount of waste in Bangkok, while the city’s Governor, Chadchart Sittipunt, said that the capital is building three new waste management facilities.

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development of Finland, Mr. Ville Tavio, met Bangkok Governor, Mr. Chadchart Sittipunt, for future cooperation on waste to energy projects. Photo credit: Embassy of Finland in Bangkok

“I think the industrialisation of Thailand has developed quite well, but it will be great for Thailand, investing more in not only infrastructure but also new trends, which are digitalisation, green energy and the circular economy,” the Minister said

Minister Tavio warns that the issue of EV battery waste could jeopardise development and seriously damage the environment. Finland’s technology, however, could support Thailand in optimising the value which can be extracted from old batteries.

“Thailand has to be prepared that EV batteries have a life cycle as a product, which comes to an end. You cannot just dump them in landfills, as that would be an environmental catastrophe, which has been done in some countries. So, Finland has the understanding and expertise on how to recycle this material and convert old EV batteries into value”

Photo credit: Embassy of Finland in Bangkok

Another issue for which Finland has solutions is agricultural waste, which is a main cause of PM 2.5 pollution in Thailand when farmers burn it. The Minister explained that Finland’s advanced technology can convert municipal solid waste into fuel.

“Finnish people find nature so important and our policies always aim to conserve nature and the sea as well. I come from a city by the sea. So, we constantly look at how we can produce agricultural products but also protect the environment simultaneously,” Tavio said.

Finland’s government policies on nature, welfare and infrastructure have created an environment in which the citizens feel happy, as the country has been named the world’s happiest country for seven consecutive years. Minister Tavio emphasised, however, that low-levels of corruption and trust in the government are significant factors for maintaining happiness in the society, adding “This ranking on the happiness index comes from numerous statistics. If you combine the statistics, there are health and life expectancy, level of corruption and freedom indices. People have trust in the government. It is necessary to have all governmental organisations work in the way that people can trust”

“The vital part of happiness in Finland is the balance between work and life. It is important that people are happy doing their jobs, but they enjoy life at the same time. Another important part is the preservation of nature. We do everything with an environmentally friendly mindset,” the Minister said.

Photo credit: Embassy of Finland in Bangkok

During his trip to Thailand, a United Nations resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza was passed by UN Security Council. Regardless of Finland’s standpoint on Israel, the Minister said that a ceasefire for humanitarian purposes is indispensable at this moment.

“Hamas should release the hostages and we have to remember who started this war. At the same time, the request for the humanitarian ceasefire is understandable, because, from the humanitarian standpoint, people understand that a solution needs to be reached. You will see how the UN Resolution will be followed with the politics. We are hoping that Israel and Hamas will reach an agreement through Qatar and Egypt soon,” Tavio cited.

Before the interview concluded, the Minister reminisced on his study at the Phuket campus of Prince of Songkhla University more than a decade ago, which has fostered his connections with Thailand until now. Tavio also said that Thailand has developed well in past 10 years, with its uniqueness of geographic location and eastern economic corridor policy, adding that future cooperation between two countries can boost Thailand as a country leading in digitalisation and the circular economy in the region.

By Franc Han Shih, Thai PBS World


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