SUSTAINABLE CITY AND LIVING
MESSAGE FROM THE CEO
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
― Winston S. Churchill
As we live our lives with different roles and responsibilities, we all go through life crises that we learn to overcome. It is the positive mindset and strategy that lead us to find a solution to all the challenges presented to us.
My parents were the first people who taught me the lesson that opportunities are everywhere, despite many apparent obstacles. These opportunities will not fall into our laps: we must search for them and strategize to activate them once discovered. Born into a middle-class family in Thailand, I was provided by my parents with shelter, apparel, food, and medicine when I was sick. Besides the four life necessities, I was also fortunate enough to have been provided with a good basic education without having much to worry about, compared to many who did not have such opportunities, as our country was still developing and many were living in poverty.
However, to go beyond the basic comforts of an ordinary life, I realized that I must strive to design my own future and my own life by finding a way to attain to higher goals by myself. My parents were the great teachers who taught me one of life’s most valuable lessons: anything that I desired, I must find my own path to achieve through hard work. Also, freedom and liberty were limitless in my family and never once was I forced to study anything or work in any fields that were not chosen and shaped by me, and so I could create my own education and my own career goals, and become the citizen that I desired to be. Blessed with so many opportunities in a world where numerous opportunities exist to make life better for myself, I felt obligated to share, to create more and more opportunities for others who might not have experienced the same advantages that I had.
Given an opportunity to study, live, and work in several global cities ranging from Bangkok to Tokyo to New York City (besides many other world cities where I both visited and worked), I was fortunate enough to see the similarities these global cities share: all of them are in various ways touched by the tide of globalization and shaped by its urban development challenges. Working and living in these cities, I realized how modernization and globalization have forever changed the lives and cultures of those living there. Besides the comforts and conveniences made possible by technological advances, something in common that all these cities share is a high cost of living, higher crime rates, higher stress among the dwellers, heavier traffic, higher levels of all sorts of pollution, less greenery, less human touch and contact among the people—all major obstacles to achieving a higher quality of life.
Many global cities have become powerful magnets for young people (particularly professionals) seeking meaningful employment and eager to be immersed in an exciting global city lifestyle. As we age, city life becomes less appealing, for it seems too fast and busy for retirees and the elderly whose incomes are less than when they were employed full-time. This has unfortunately forced many to move out of their city, which makes it even more difficult to find suitable employment after retirement to increase their incomes, and also diminishes the vitality and diversity so essential to a vibrant global city where the synergies between the energy of youth and the wisdom of age are what drives success. This has become a great challenge in many developed countries and some developing countries, since the world’s population structure has changed and people live longer due to technological advancements in medical care and services.
How each country copes with such rapid changes arising from economic development and technological progress, especially in the area of environmental degradation, is an urgent concern for all countries around the world. In 1992, the United Nations organized a conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio Summit (or Earth Summit) to address these global challenges. The two-week Earth Summit led to the adoption of Agenda 21, a wide-ranging blueprint for action to achieve sustainable development worldwide. It was the most comprehensive and, if implemented, effective programme of concerted action ever attempted by the global community. The Earth Summit influenced all subsequent UN conferences, which have examined the relationship between human rights, population, social development, women’s status, and human settlements — and the need for environmentally sustainable development.
As I worked on analyzing the progress of Agenda 21 from several national reports of the UN member-states during the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, I realized that such an effort to implement Agenda 21 should not be made only by international organizations or governments. As a world citizen who has been given plenty of opportunities to get education and work in diverse types of organizations and with different kinds of professionals, I realized that I and other world citizens have a duty and responsibility to make a positive change to this world through spreading the knowledge, know-how and experience that we have acquired. Thus, after acquiring skills and experience in many fields, I have decided to found the first strategic planning social enterprise in Thailand, with the explicit goal of enabling government and international organizations to handle such challenges by utilizing the talent and experience that I and my team can share through our cooperation with them.
Therefore, I founded Global City Development Co., Ltd. (GCD) to strategize, design, and deliver the prototype of a “role model” global sustainable city, the Japan-Thailand Millennium Town, which will be based on the concepts of the UN Agenda 21. Although this effort has been viewed by some as an “impossible” task, we at GCD find this effort both entirely feasible and worthwhile, and we are proud to take this immensely exciting first step to create an innovative response to the global challenges that will impel everyone’s attention and cooperation in the near future.
Last but not least, as a social enterprise and a world citizen, GCD is determined to share and create opportunities for others and to provide a working and living environment that will enhance a better quality of life for all. All of us at GCD have made it our philosophy to give more and take less, and to leave a truly meaningful legacy to this world with all the energy and strength that we willingly bring to this urgent task.