Mae Fah Luang Foundation hosted the EGM 2019 in conjunction with the governments of Thailand, Germany, Peru and UNODC from 15-17 December 2019 in Chiang Rai. The conference, held consecutively since 2016, aims to create a platform for experts in the field of Alternative Development to exchange perspectives in advocating for the inclusion of important issues into international forums, especially the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). EGM on AD 2019 saw 58 participants comprising government representatives from 14 countries, international organisations, academia, civil society and the private sector. The meeting comprised two parts:
- Study visit to Doi Tung Development Project, a globally acclaimed model of Alternative Development which has been scaled up to a level where villagers become entrepreneurs, implement community rules and regulations, and build a circular economy.
- Meeting on Alternative Development, with the following key outcomes:
- Private sector participation is an important factor in the success and sustainability of Alternative Development. It is necessary to have a suitable private sector partner, with similar visions and operation policies, to jointly assign roles and work procedures in a clear and precise manner.
- In Alternative Development forums, rule of Law is often linked to the suppression of illicit drug perpetrators. Thailand proposed the concept of community rule of law, where Alternative Development projects cultivate the culture of respect for community rules, such as encouraging communities to set and enforce their own rules alongside existing laws.
- Today, drugs are not just an issue for rural communities that cultivate illicit crops, but are an urban issue, particularly the use of synthetic drugs. Alternative Development methods and practices should therefore be adapted to address urban drug issues, such as the people-centric approach, listening to the needs of the communities, creating licit livelihoods, addressing the issue of poverty and implementing long-term measures.